Petra Pakodzi

European Affairs Analyst

The EU faces its current challenges: will its fragility precede a renewed vitality?

Challenges from inner institutions, member states and external threats have always had an impactful role in the history of the European Union. Being aware of these current affairs is a key in becoming a responsible citizen.

Generally speaking as the coronavirus pandemic started in 2019, the EU had to share its attention towards equally important issues-facing economic, social hardship and the largest health crisis of the new century. The availability, amount, schedule of vaccination was the main question throughout 2020 which is trying to be resolved. What about this pandemic’s financial, mental and educational aspects? A crisis is in progress as people are losing their job, struggling with mental health, youngsters and students are missing their experiences from education. This mechanism has started to test the eurozone and its institutions, which system has been standing on weak legs since its formation because Europe has failed to address it.

Moreover, 2020 contained many more sensitive debates: the first country left the Union a Brexit deal had to be reached. This phenomenon illustrates the fragmentation of the strongest economic and social bond ever existed. Besides, two key countries of the union have tense uncertainty towards their future-Can Mario Draghi solve Italy’s crisis? Who is going to be the next leader of Germany?

Threats to democracy are coming from in- and outside of Europe.

For example, Russian influence could have been observed since the establishment of the Soviet Union. This still impacts countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary and Poland. Not just European values, but human rights and dignity are being threatened by populist leaders of member states. In the inner circle of the EU, Hungary and Poland have been implementing laws limiting LGBTQ+ people’s life, abortion concerns, free press and education. As this process is taking place in other leading countries-such as China-the EU has a major role in intervening and standing up for human rights. By the development of the information technology industry the risk comes from a new part of checks and balances-the medium and via this-the influence of Big Tech. As the process has already started in the US, the European Union is also starting to regulate the tech giants . Furthermore, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed the willingness of the EU to work strongly together with the new Biden administration, slightly articulating the new bond with the US, leaving aside the departing UK.

All these cases have to be dealt with sensitivity, by putting emphasis on the impacts on the climate. The EU can indicate its countries preferences by negotiating international treaties, funding projects and encouraging member states to a new green direction. As the European Green Deal is the first of its type people tend to be ambitious about its goals and significance. This aims to improve people’s quality of life by making the union a low carbon economy. Every aspect of the new world order has to be altered such as consumption, energy generation and transport. The target for the Union is to create a bloc of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Besides, the EU as a leading actor in the economy, has to promote green transition to other players of the international game.

In conclusion, with the beginning of the pandemic the EU started to face many more problems than before. Problems that were not resolved and which have to be shed light on to create a diverse, tight economic and social bond in Europe.