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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.

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