Former Social Democrat premier (2011-2016) Zoran Milanovic (SDP) won the second round of the presidential race that took place in Croatia on 5th January 2020, ousting incumbent rival Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who was running as an independent, with the support of the centre-right HDZ. According to an almost complete count Mr Milanovic won 52.73% of the vote and Ms Grabar-Kitarovic, 47.27%.
The failures of certain merger projects like Alstom/Siemens call into question the inadequacy, or even obsolescence, of European competition law and its place in relation to other public policy objectives. Other challenges arise: on the one hand, the existing law faces the challenges raised by the digital economy; on the other hand, European competition law does not take sufficient account of international competition. Should a rebalancing not be carried out between competition policy and industrial policy so that the objectives of the latter can be deployed?
The unique character of the European Union as neither a State nor an international organisation has from the outset required the creation of a language regime that meets particularly high standards. Multilingualism, which is less widely practised today, meets a democratic requirement. The Union must invest in translation and interpreting and affirm its willingness to maintain the debate in several languages.
Whilst the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 opened up European prospects for the Western Balkans, the agenda that was promoted then has hardly been completed to date. These countries have experienced worrying democratic regression in a serious demographic and economic situation which is playing into the hands of re-emerging powers. The re-engagement of the European Union with the Berlin Process and the six flagship initiatives on the part of the Commission, approved in 2018 is positive, but is now seen to be lacking. Divisions are still deep, and reconciliation is waning. Given the fragile stability of these countries, which are now being wooed by third parties, the time has come for a new approach. Economic and political re-engagement, including the launch of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, but based on a new framework, is vital for the very security of Europe.
The blockade of the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body since 11 December illustrates the threats being made to the multilateral international order. China, which presents itself as one of its defenders, only partially respects it, while simultaneously it tries to modify it to its advantage. It is urgent for Europeans, in the ilk of Phil Hogan on 12 December, to defend and reform the political and trade multilateralism embodied by the UN and the WTO as the guarantors of international law.