Opinion & Analysis

Ten issues to watch in 2019

Executive summary

This annual publication offers up-to-date insight from policy analysts in the European Parliamentary Research Service on ten key issues and policy areas that are likely to feature prominently on the political agenda of the European Union (EU) in 2019.

Each of the ten contributors presents the state of play on the issue, highlights what the European Union is doing and the specific role of the European Parliament, considers possible interactions with the other issues, and looks to the future to identify some of the major staging posts ahead.

This new edition covers three clusters of issues. The institutional cluster starts with ‘A new European Parliament – A new European Commission’, focussing on the institutional implications of the new political landscape which citizens will define when they vote in the European elections in May 2019. It suggests the ways the new European Parliament may differ from the current and previous ones, and looks at how the new European Commission will be appointed. Next, this cluster puts the spotlight on ‘The way forward’ for a Union of 27 Member States, looking at the direction of the current debate and the future beyond Brexit. Finally, the ‘Future financing of the Union’ presents the content and objectives of the Commission’s proposals for the financial framework for the next seven years, and the Parliament’s ambitions and position in the negotiations.

Four geopolitical issues form the second cluster: first, the relationship between the European Union and Africa – referred to by the President of the European Commission in his 2018 State of the Union speech as our ‘twin continent’. This section looks at the push for stronger relations and explores potential partnerships. Then, ‘Trade wars’ takes stock of current relations between Europe, China and the United States and addresses the political, economic and legal implications and the EU’s response in this context. Next, ‘Internal security’ reveals how crime is increasingly becoming digital in nature and how the EU is dealing with the issue. Lastly, environmental and climate challenges are studied from an unusual perspective, albeit one constituting the largest part of the surface of our planet, namely the oceans. ‘Towards a policy for the oceans’ looks at the benefits of, and pressures on, the oceans, as well as at EU and global policies in this area, and at likely developments in the coming year.

Technological issues close the circle of these ‘Ten issues to watch in 2019’, starting with a reflection entitled ‘From artificial intelligence to collective intelligence’, which explores this emerging topic and the role of the EU in 2019 and beyond. This is followed by a piece on ‘Electric mobility’, looking at the growing market for electric road vehicles and EU action to support it. Finally a more general contribution on ‘Digital transformation’ takes stock of this omnipresent phenomenon and looks at how best to build a digital economy and shape the legal, ethical and regulatory framework it needs.

Complementing the two previous issues in this annual series, and the extensive offer of EPRS publications in general, this 2019 issue of ‘Ten issues to watch’ seeks to inform Members of the European Parliament and the broader public, and to stimulate reflection and discussion at the start of a decisive year for the future of Europe and its citizens.

Read the full report here