Members' Research Service By / January 11, 2022

Ten issues to watch in 2022

This is the sixth edition of an annual EPRS publication aimed at identifying and framing some of the key issues and policy areas that have the potential to feature prominently in public debate and on the political agenda of the European Union over the coming year.

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Written by Etienne Bassot.

Two years of pandemic have taught us – institutions, researchers and citizens alike – how much today’s issues are global. From fighting the virus to addressing climate change or securing supply chains, the pandemic has accelerated our awareness of our common destiny. Global issues call for global solutions and global leadership − solutions that can inspire other countries and continents all over the world.

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To help us to understand these global challenges and make sense of what is unfolding before our eyes, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) asked its policy analysts to identify ten issues to watch in 2022. With so many burning issues in Europe and in the world, a selection of just ten is by definition subjective. Yet, it is the opportunity to shine the spotlight on a series of topics selected for their obvious importance or their relevance to global leadership. EPRS then tasked the experts selected to explain why these issues matter particularly in 2022 and what we might expect in the year to come. For other issues that remain ‘hot’, such as migration at Europe’s borders and the situation in Ukraine, readers will find our analysis in previous editions of this publication (listed under the ‘Further reading section’) and in the thousands of publications EPRS has issued online and in paper over the years.

While the previous edition of this publication, and the associated introductory event, had highlighted the interdependence of the selected issues, the underlying theme of this 2022 edition is the global nature of the issues. This is seen in the written contributions but also inspires the visual representation of the ten issues on the cover of this publication. The ten topics selected either affect the world as a whole − achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic growth, securing supply chains, moving towards sustainable agriculture, ensuring nuclear non-proliferation − or present standards, solutions or ways ahead that could be taken up worldwide. These include shaping the recovery, striking the right monetary policy balance between continued favourable financing conditions to support the recovery and addressing inflation concerns, setting standards for the internet of things, the potential of the truly innovative participatory democracy experience of the Conference on the Future of Europe, the vision of a continent where people in all their diversity are equal, and strengthening a defence union when the European Union is experiencing ‘loneliness’ (solitude) in transatlantic relations and needs to define its ‘narrative’ (récit), to quote Luuk van Middelaar’s geopolitical analysis.  

The year 2022 brings us into the third year of a pandemic that is far from over, although the resilience of people and societies has been tested to the limits. But 2022 also means the next European elections are just two years off, with a series of issues where the European Union has demonstrated its capacity to rebound, shape its future, and project its leadership worldwide, and where the European Parliament is in the vanguard. This 2022 edition brings some notes of hope at the start of a critical year. We hope that you will enjoy reading this latest edition of ‘Ten Issues to Watch’ and that it will stimulate your own reflection, and ignite your curiosity as you explore the challenges and opportunities of 2022.

Read the complete in-depth analysis on ‘Ten issues to watch in 2022‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Or watch the video on ‘Ten issues to watch in 2022‘ on YouTube.

Chips global supply chain
Chips global supply chain
Global fabrication capacity by region, 2019 (%)
Global fabrication capacity by region, 2019 (%)
Developments in EU defence under the current Commission
Developments in EU defence under the current Commission

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