Members' Research Service By / January 7, 2020

Ten issues to watch in 2020

This is the fourth edition of an annual EPRS publication designed to identify and frame some of the key issues and policy areas that are likely to feature prominently on the political agenda of the European Union over the coming year.

© kojihirano, Eugenio Marongiu, Alfa Photo, Fotosr52, View Apart, Nicolas Economou, Angurt, FooTToo, vchal, Maridav /

Written by Etienne Bassot,

© kojihirano, Eugenio Marongiu, Alfa Photo, Fotosr52, View Apart, Nicolas Economou, Angurt, FooTToo, vchal, Maridav /

A new European Parliament and new European Commission, a new decade, and a new financial framework to adopt for the next seven years – 2020 would seem to be a year full of new beginnings. But 2020 does not start with a blank page: next to the political commitments already made and work programmes already adopted, a range of issues are already on the table, some recent, some less so, but all requiring our understanding, and each calling for action.

To help us to see where we need to focus and take action, the European Parliamentary Research Service has asked a dozen of its policy analysts to select, from myriad interesting topics, ten issues to watch in 2020. These issues concern all aspects of European policies: economic and social, European citizens and migrants, the most advanced technologies and most affected regions, budget and finances, as well as trends within our European borders and across the oceans or at the pole. Some of these issues follow directly from previous editions of this publication – such as the multiannual financial framework, migration, and the impact of US politics on transatlantic relations. Others are assessed in a new light, for example climate action and energy transition. And still others are brand new in this series of publications, such as the ‘gamification’ of EU democracy, and the Arctic.

Behind this diversity, two main themes emerge: climate and solidarity. These two themes will not come as a surprise: they were at the heart of campaigns for the European elections last year, and continue to make the headlines at both European and national levels. The December 2019 Parlemeter – the Eurobarometer survey for the European Parliament – confirms that, first and foremost, European citizens demand a greener and fairer Europe. Climate change, poverty and social exclusion are citizens’ key priorities for the European Parliament to address.

Climate and solidarity have therefore logically inspired the written contributions as well as the visual representation of the ten issues and their interaction, represented on the cover of this publication. In 2020, no issue can be presented, let alone understood, in isolation, detached from its interactions with others. As one example among many, biodiversity calls for climate action, which will affect the adoption of the multiannual financial framework, which will define the Just Transition Fund, which will influence the fight against poverty and exclusion that affect children, who interact via 5G, which enables more on-line involvement of citizens, who coordinate support to migrants using new technologies or express their concerns for the Arctic on line, and so on.

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In a world in which all issues are directly or indirectly related to the others, the thinking follows this pattern. It follows that, with this publication as increasingly elsewhere, you can choose to read these issues in any order you wish. Cross-referencing will make the connections and guide you from one subject to the other.

We hope that you will enjoy reading this latest edition of ‘Ten Issues to Watch’ and that it will stimulate your reflections and ignite your curiosity as you explore the challenges and opportunities of 2020.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Ten issues to watch in 2020‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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