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The EU: a changing of the guard and the consequences | RiskMap2022


The EU: a changing of the guard and the consequences

Alexandra Kellert | Analyst

2022 will see the EU adjusting to life without German Chancellor Angela Merkel, devoid of the leader who so often brokered deals between the bloc’s members. Meanwhile, other leaders from major states – including France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Mario Draghi – will face challenges at the ballot box or from within their own governments. 

The potential for national changes at the top will likely offer a further blow to the EU’s ambitions as a geopolitical player in the traditional sense. Finding consensus between member states in time to respond quickly to global developments will remain a challenge.  

The EU will, however, continue to thrive in its role as global regulator. In recent years, the EU has brought in landmark legislation, such as GDPR, that have not just had an impact on EU-based businesses, but on all organisations around the world that interact with EU-based companies and consumers. 

Businesses should expect plenty more legislative proposals in 2022, as the incumbent European Commission is likely to see it as its last chance to get laws through before the end of its term in 2024. The EU will continue to seek to balance the demands of businesses with those of consumers, and to push for European values via regulation rather than reacting to events. There are already multiple legislative measures at various stages of development within the European institutions that are likely to have a similar global impact in the coming years. Legislation that would require European companies to undertake mandatory due diligence of environmental and human rights risks within their global supply chains is one such law that is likely to see progress in 2022. The technology sector will also remain a major focus. The EU’s umbrella Digital Markets Act will be aimed at increasing competition in the market and at stepping up European influence over the largely US-founded digital tech sector. Meanwhile, the EU is also looking at implementing more specific legislation to ensure that European standards take precedence in a range of sectors, such as sustainable car battery standards. The bloc will further seek to expand its global influence via the terms of its trade deals, such as the inclusion of emissions pledges. Though there, the realities of geopolitics are likely to intervene, with many deals continuing to face delays as a result of evolving relationships on the political level. Internal politics will also get in the way of some of these initiatives, such as agreements relating to carbon emissions, and businesses will need to monitor developments to understand the likely impact.

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