In the short run, the European continent will face great changes. We’ve gathered the top 5 people and events that will change the face of Europe.
Our list includes a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic – the first wave after the mass vaccination. The departure of Angela Merkel from chancellor’s office, which for the first time in 16 years will bring to the new trends in the management of the EU’s largest economy. A global shift in Europe’s relations between Western and Eastern Europe – from ideological dreams to economic pragmatism, which will influence Ukraine significantly, where the ideas of opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk about the necessity to repair economic relations with Russia will gain more influence.
Furthermore, Europe will face a new large-scale migration crisis, which will jeopardize the humanistic values of the EU and underline the need to strengthen the community borders.
Find out the key challenge for the immediate future here.
New wave of coronavirus
Unfortunately, it is approaching inexorably: it has already touched a number of countries and dangerously hints at the difficult autumn.
This wave will be a defining one, in fact, it would be the first Covid-19 wave since the beginning of global vaccination.
And the way the European countries will cope with the worsening epidemiological situation will clearly show the prospect of both the global fight against coronavirus and everyday life in the conditions of juxtaposition of Covid-19 and its new strains.
By the way, speaking about the strains. Against the background of the emergence of new strains of coronavirus (in particular, the Delta strain), we should expect the continuation and even intensification of the “vaccine sprint,” which will have to undergo a “field test” against new variations of the virus.
Therefore, success or failure in warding Covid-19 off this fall will also have a direct impact on the situation with anti-vax companies and opponents of the quarantine restrictions, who embark on large-scale protests in many European countries every so often.
As you might know, they are opposing the quarantine restrictions, many of the protests are also aimed as the refusal from the “compulsory” vaccination. Some of the protests were accompanied by the clashes with the law enforcers, so the mass character and attitude of the protesters should not be underestimated.
The success of vaccinations would clearly have to cool their ardor, at least for a while. The opposite result would provide them with very serious advantages in some further protests. At least, some new supporters might appear.
Angela Merkel, who has been serving as German Chancellor for 16 years, will no longer run for the office. Back in October 2018, she stepped down as the head of the ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). This autumn, following the results of the elections to the Bundestag, a new chancellor will be announced.
German parliamentary elections are scheduled for 26 September. Three contenders run for the chancellor’s office: CDU representative Armin Laschet, Greens representative Annalena Baerbock, and Olaf Scholz, representative of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
At the moment, according to polls, the ruling CDU/CSU bloc is in the lead, followed by the Social Democrats, lagging by about 5 points behind, and the Greens, which are about 7-8 points behind.
In the context of the upcoming elections, additional intrigue of Merkel’s departure is the future of the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD). In the last Bundestag elections, the far-right entered the parliament for the first time, demonstrating the third highest result in the country, taking 94 mandates.
If they manage to improve their result, this will change Germany’s further policy, given the difficulty of forming the ruling coalition in the Bundestag last time (taking into consideration radical views of AfD, it’s not considered as one to enter the ruling bloc).
Given the level of Germany’s influence, further development of global politics in Europe will directly depend on who becomes the new chancellor. Considering that the candidates have completely different positions on many issues, this brings additional intrigue both to the future confrontation in the elections and to the future of political alignments on the continent.
Economic and political pragmatism
We are convinced that it could be called a global event. The ideas of pragmatism embrace more and more countries, capturing the minds of their authorities.
Key point: it is necessary to reject from the emotional decisions and statements and to solve important challenges from a pragmatic point of view, first of all, proceeding from the specific interests of a country.
We do not need to go far in search of proof. One of the most indicative points is the decision on the Nord Stream 2 (NS 2) gas pipeline.
Nord Stream 2 is a 1,230 km pipeline that brings Russian gas to Germany. The construction started back in 2018 in the waters of the Baltic Sea, the project cost exceeds $ 11.5 billion.
The construction has been continuing on and off due to the resistance from a number of countries protesting against Russia’s rising energy influence.
Despite the construction of this gas pipeline was opposed, despite various sanctions and demands, despite accusations of building “gas weapons of blackmail,” the project is almost completed.
First of all, because it turned out to be beneficial for Germany. And eventually, the United States put up with this fact, where, by the way, pragmatism has also prevailed recently (just recall the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan, simply because President Biden considered military presence unreasonable).
Ukraine is the only country that do not get over it (it loses most of all due to the launch of the NS 2), which kept on demanding that construction should be stopped. But in the end it had no choice in the matter.
Return of Viktor Medvedchuk to the active political life in Ukraine
This autumn, Ukraine will face great turbulence. Due to the impending economic and social crisis, the country will have to choose between two options: the need to negotiate with Russia – this is actually dictated by the common sense – and complete surrender of all remnants of independence to international corporations, upheld by the current government. A wave of mass protests is expected due to unaffordable utility rates. In addition, the population will demand to finally stop Donbas war.
The only politician who is able to offer an alternative, peaceful way of the country’s development, is the opposition leader, Viktor Medvedchuk, currently subjected to political repressions by the Ukrainian authorities.
Medvedchuk, who is under US sanctions, has consistently pursued Ukraine-Russia rapprochement policy, led by his close friend Vladimir Putin.
Medvedchuk’s Opposition Platform – For Life party ranks second in all opinion polls, and in the event of early parliamentary elections, it may well bypass untrustworthy party of President Zelensky.
Thus, Medvedchuk can lead Ukraine either as a prime minister or as a president. This can leave the region behind a shaky situation for one of sustained balance, because only he can reach an agreement with Russia on achieving peace in the East of Ukraine, he will build relations with Europe on the parity basis, instead of behaving like a blackmailer or a beggar.
This will help rebuild relations in Eastern Europe from scratch.
This problem has existed for years. And it has intensified lately. Europe is literally overwhelmed by waves of migrants from troubled countries experiencing wars, hunger, economic, and other problems.
A new impetus happened quite recently, after the seizure of Afghanistan by militants of the radical Islamist Taliban group, who waited for their “glory hour” after the withdrawal of US troops from the country.
The video of how the inhabitants of Afghanistan, risking their lives, are trying to leave the territory of the country, flashed around whole world. And the States, like many European countries, have faced the need to accept and somewhere to accommodate thousands of refugees.
By the way, not all countries agree to this. For example, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has already announced that he no longer wants to accept refugees from this country (at the moment there are more than 40,000 Afghans in Austria).
But, it is unlikely that European countries will be able to turn blind eye to this challenge. Moreover, the problem of refugees is relevant not only in the context of Afghanistan.
Old are the problems with refugees on the Lithuania-Belarus border, the flows of migrants are not weakening, and at some moments they even intensify in other European countries.
Over-all, the issue is extremely urgent. And the near future will show how Europe can cope with it. And whether it will cope with it at all.