2021 started with a bang. On 6 January 2021, a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. The world watched in disbelief as the loser of the 2020 US presidential election, Donald Trump, refused to accept his unambiguous defeat and appeared to be trying to overturn the results.
This wasn’t the only thing to shake European faith in US leadership in 2021. The chaotic US evacuation from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban to power undermined President Joe Biden’s message that “America is back”. The signing of the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States (and the cancelling of a multi-billion euro submarine contract with France) rubbed salt in the wound.
Migration was back in the news. From squabbling between France and Britain over migrant channel crossings, to Belarus’ weaponisation of migration as a way to pressure the EU to end sanctions, analysts warn that the issue is unlikely to go away soon (particularly given economic pressures from the pandemic and the rising number of conflicts and autocratic crackdowns globally).
World leaders met in Glasgow to agree on a plan of action on climate change. Campaigners are generally underwhelmed by the outcome of the COP26 summit. Europe suffered severe floods in 2021, causing several deaths and catastrophic damage in several countries. European public opinion sees climate change as a serious problem that policymakers should tackle, though rising energy prices over the winter may test that resolve.
Meanwhile, the pandemic continues. The full impact of the Omicron variant on healthcare systems is still unclear, though the spike in the number of infections is alarming. Will 2022 be the year the pandemic finally ends?
Was 2021 a good year for Europe? And what will 2022 bring? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
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