Negotiations, red lines and black lists. 2021 has been an intense year for the European Union.
The year began with the pending fringes of Brexit.
Brussels versus London
The Protocol on Northern Ireland entailed a series of border controls and some goods became scarce.
But the situation worsened when sectarian tensions returned to Northern Ireland. In April, riots broke out between unionists and Republicans.
To calm the waters, Brussels made a series of concessions, ending the so-called “sausage war”.
But, in the autumn, London went on the offensive again, threatening to activate “Article 16”. Brussels responded immediately:
“Let there be no doubt: activating Article 16 to seek the renegotiation of the Protocol would have serious consequences,” said Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission.
And to the commercial war, two new sources of tension were added: the non-granting by London of a series of fishing licenses for French fishermen, and the increase in migration in the English Channel.
Brussels versus Beijing
Relations have not been easy with China in 2021 either.
In March, the EU imposed sanctions on a number of Chinese officials for human rights violations.
Beijing responded immediately and drew up its own blacklist featuring several MEPs.
All this left in the air the investment plan that China and the European Union had negotiated.
Now, the European Union tries to mobilize 300,000 million euros to counteract the so-called Chinese Silk Road.
And if all this was not enough, Lithuania ended the year by calling for a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Brussels versus Silicon Valley
In 2021, Brussels has advanced in its particular crusade against the American tech giants.
Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager is leading the campaign.
The aim is to limit its dominant position and hold digital platforms responsible for illegal content.
It is expected that in 2022, the Digital Markets Law will see the light, which would make the European Union the main technology regulator in the world.
And meanwhile, the battle continues in court. The European Justice has confirmed this year the fine of 2,400 million euros against Google for abuse of a dominant position.
Brussels versus Warsaw
The gap around the rule of law has also widened between Brussels and Warsaw.
Poland crossed the first red line by declaring several zones “LGBT free”. Only after the European Union threatened to cut him off did he back down.
The second challenge came from the hands of the Polish Constitutional Court, ruling the supremacy of Polish law over European.
“This ruling calls into question the foundations of the European Union,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
“I will not let politicians blackmail Poland,” replied Mateusz Morawoecki, the Polish prime minister.
And to finish muddying the waters, in November, the European Justice imposed a daily fine of 1 million euros on Poland for violating the independence of the Justice.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.