Europe and Africa migrants discussion Ludovic Marin/Getty Images

Europe’s Chance in 2018

With no looming crisis and only one major election in 2018, the coming year is on track to be one of relative calm for Europe, providing a rare opportunity for the European Union to make progress on long-term challenges, from climate leadership to migration. Three areas, in particular, stand out.

MADRID – It has become a cliché to declare, each December, that the next year will be a crucial one for the European Union. The pattern is familiar: Europe has a turbulent 12 months, driven by events for which it was not prepared, jerry-rigs a response, and resolves to address the deeper structural issues. Then the next year arrives, and Europe is again overwhelmed by events, and becomes trapped again in short-term crisis-response mode. Will 2018 break the mold?

The short answer is that it might – or, at least, it can. After nearly a decade of relentless drama – a financial disaster, followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the migration crisis, the Brexit vote, and the election of a US president who has called into question the transatlantic relationship – Europe is entering 2018 in a relatively stable position.

Not only is there no crisis looming on Europe’s borders; despite anemic growth, the economic outlook also appears stable. More important, the elections in the three largest European economies in 2017 produced no further populist insurrections. France now has a pro-European president in Emmanuel Macron; a pro-European grand coalition is emerging in Germany; and the British leadership, though deeply divided, has managed to agree with its EU partners on a divorce bill that will serve as a platform for continued negotiations. Italy is the only major EU country scheduled to hold an election in 2018.