The new Commission entered into office on 1st December. Its president is promising "a transformation process that will impact all of the components of our society and our economy", in a time when the Union wants to play a leading role in the world. With a team that reflects the new political situation in Europe, Ursula von der Leyen will have to work to provide the Union with the means of her ambitions.
At its meeting on 12th and 13th December, the European Council will begin discussions at the highest level on the Union's budget for the period 2021-2027. While the withdrawal of the United Kingdom will reduce revenues, the 1% threshold of gross national income is again at the heart of the debate. Negotiation will start with arbitrations that will be difficult to find.
Europe is one of the leading destinations in the world in terms of migratory flows: there are 77 million migrants in Europe, Russia included, according to the UN's department for population. But Europeans find it difficult to acknowledge that Europe is a land of immigration. The populist parties decry the "great replacement", "invasion", "conquest" and the States' loss of identity, whilst around 34,000 people have died in the Mediterranean since the start of this century.
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.
Whilst the Dakar Forum for Peace and Security in Africa is meeting on 18th and 19th November, the EUCAP Sahel and the Emergency Trust Fund are under review. The EU has made Niger a vital place for its security and development policy in Africa, however the pursuit of immediate and quantifiable results relegates general thought about the long term effects of external support to the background.