As 2012 draws to a close Open Europe has put out its take on what to expect from 2013. Reviewing our (admittedly milder) effort at this last year, shows that we didn’t do too badly, especially for what turned out to be a very volatile and difficult year for Europe (with plenty of government interventions, which are notoriously hard to predict).
See here for the full report where we lay out our view on three key topics to watch in 2013 – discussions of a ‘Brixit’, the formulation of the new eurozone banking union and, of course, the continuation or otherwise of the eurozone crisis.
Section 1: The eurozone crisis – survival but stagnation
2013 looks likely to be a calmer, but still painful year for the eurozone, with several political flashpoints (notably German, Italian and Austrian elections) that could quickly trigger a fresh flare-up in the crisis – particularly as many of the campaigns could become de factor judgements on the eurozone crisis and the bailouts. The eurozone is unlikely to fully turn the corner, with low growth and high unemployment continuing to plague many countries. Activism from the ECB is likely to help ease concerns, with its new bond buying programme the OMT potentially activated to aid Spain at some point. This will be needed as markets will still be on edge with Italy, Spain and France face funding costs of €332bn, €195bn and €243bn respectively.
Section 2: Banking union – slow or even slower? A decision on the second step of the banking union – a joint fiscal backstop – is unlikely to be taken amid continued disagreements and domestic pressures. Even plans to have the ESM recapitalise banks already look to have been pushed back to 2014. During the year it may become increasingly apparent that, as is, the banking union does not represent a solution to the crisis.
Section 3: Britain in the EU – a mid-life crisis or full divorce?
We don’t see any fundamental changes to the relationship, but positioning and political manoeuvring will set the stage for the 2014 (European Parliament) and 2015 (General) elections – that in turn could decide the exact nature of the EU-UK relationship in the future. Two important issues to watch will be the opt out (and back into) EU crime and policing laws as well as the negotiations on the EU budget. The general tone of the debate within the government and Conservative party will be an important test ahead of the elections.
Obviously then, this is far from an exhaustive list but simply represents our thoughts on some key points of interest to watch in 2013. Feel free to share your thoughts for 2013 in the comments below!