What happened in the European Union, what has changed and what we will remember forever. 2019 in brief.
A greener Europe: the Thunberg’s effect
In April European Parliament invited the young environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Even though she could not speak in plenary, the Environment Committee was overwhelmed by her speech. “Our house is on fire,’ she said with a reference to the recent fire at Notre Dame in Paris, but the cathedral ‘will be rebuilt, while our foundations are not so strong’, was her warning. She may not be a girl to save Europe from climate change, but her words were powerful. Since that day, so many things have changed. The “Friday for futures” movement has grown more and more across Europe, gaining a lot of support among the younger generation. Moreover, the European Parliament has decided to declare a climate emergency and to start doing everything possible to safeguard our planet. Last but not least, the EU has reached an agreement to limit the use of plastic: from 2021 stop to disposable plastic. an intense year, but the first step in the fight against climate change.
“It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling,”
Greta Thunberg: TIME’s person of the year
Who’s leading the European Union?
The citizens of the 28 Member States, including the British struggling with Brexit, elected their new representatives in Strasbourg. At European level, the hegemony of the socialist and popular groups is over and they will need (growing) liberals to form a majority. The increased focus on environmental concerns in the EU has given the Greens a boost. The Sovereigns have established themselves in fewer countries than expected, but they won in Italy with Matteo Salvini. The new president of the European Parliament is the Italian David Sassoli. Charles Michel is President of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen is elected President of the European Commission. The European Central Bank has new leadership: Christine Lagarde.
“For the generation of my parents, Europe was an aspiration of peace in a continent too long divided.
For my generation, Europe was an aspiration of peace, prosperity and unity that we brought to life through our single currency, free movement and enlargement.
For the generation of my children, Europe is a unique aspiration.”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Along came Johnson
The Conservative leader won his battle by bringing home an overwhelming victory: winning the early elections by a majority of 80 MPs. In the end, Brexit will be done. With Boris Johnson, the British Parliament was finally able to vote and decide. The President of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, predicted hard times during the negotiations for the exit. Meanwhile, Scotland has started again to call for a referendum and independence. That land no longer wants to be part of the United Kingdom.
Boris Johnson, Great Britain’s Prime Minister
“Today, at this pivotal moment in our history, we again have to reconcile two sets of instincts, two noble instincts, between the deep desire of friendship and trade and mutual support and security between Britain and our European partners, and the simultaneous desire equally deep and heartfelt for democratic self-government in this country. Some people say they are irreconcilable and it just can’t be done.”