The shaping technological standards and norms for the future.

The
possibilities for the future of the European Union are depending on
three major challenges in 2018. The first is whether the new German
government and the French government can relaunch and evolve the
European project and thereby provide an alternative narrative to that
of nationalist populism. The second is whether the people of Italy
electing a Party that is pro-European Union, showing yet again that
populists have limited opportunities in core European countries. The
final challenge is whether the United Kingdom can achieve a deal with
the EU, since otherwise it would damage its economy, what would show
that populist policies offer no solutions for the problems of
globalisation and slow income growth.

Europe
has an opportunity in 2018 to reverse the trend of it falling behind
in digital technologies. It has the capacity to enter the
technological competition over quantum computing, artificial
intelligence, and robotics. This is the area in which economic
growth, security, and the preservation of democracy will take place
and the alternative is to fall even further behind, with China and
America shaping technological standards and norms for the future.
European leaders could use the European Commission’s €1 billion
quantum project and Macron’s proposal to create a European DARPA
for a much broader promotion of technological innovation on the
continent.

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The
leaders of this effort will be France and Germany. Macron is one of
the most pro-European French presidents in history, but he needs to
convince his people of the benefits of the EU again, and to convince
them that his European intervention initiative would be beneficial
for all of France and the rest of the Union. Germany’s new
leadership, regardless of whether it is a grand coalition, a minority
government, or some other plausible alternative, will need to commit
to this relaunch of the EU. The two nations have to work together to
bring Europe’s future.

It
is likely that Trump will have difficult relations with Putin,
Erdogan, and Xi and that provides an opportunity for Europe to
reverse the trend of increasing European irrelevance, by both
cooperating with and pressuring the White House. Since
Donald J. Trump’s administration decided to back away from the
Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) and Americas role as world leader
regarding global governance, the world economy looks towards China
and the EU. Europeans can work with Beijing to protect international
institutions such as the Paris Agreement on climate change when
necessary and possible. The two economies are representing a quarter
of the world population and two thirds of the worlds GDP. They have
some common views on how global governance should advance and when it
comes to trade, aid, climate change and a host of other issues.
Brussels and Beijing want to work together with the international
community to find common solutions. The point of a potential EU-China
G2 partnership wouldn’t be to replace the other existing mechanisms,
but to complement them, by forming a consensus between the two
powers. While this partnership will be no absolute solution for the
gap in global governance, created by the protectionist agenda of the
US, it will at least mean that the next four or eight years will not
be lost, while the United States is disengaged and unwilling to lead.
It will mean that at least some progress will be made on issues like
development assistance, trade, migration, or climate change.