So this is Christmas, and what have you done…
Not an easy task to summarize 2014 in Brussels in a blog post. Beyond the hectic day to day and the rain (200 rainy days per year on average in Brussels Capital, Wikipedia dixit), a few highlights can definitely be extracted from 2014 that may make it a crucial turning point in the years to come. I will focus below on four of them: Institutional renewal in the EU; consolidation in the telco and cable sectors; competition policy in the digital era and privacy related developments. Most significantly, it all happened in a year where Telefonica was celebrating its 25th anniversary in the capital of the EU!.
A year high in politics but low in digital policy
While the impact of the Luxleaks scandal it is still to be gauged as these lines are written, 2014 will be surely recalled in Brussels as the year of the spitzenkandidaten. This year has seen for the first time a process of institutional renewal based on the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, successfully leading to the attribution of the Commission’s Presidency to Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, the candidate that emerged as winner of the Parliament elections held in May22-25. In the desperate search for bridging the democracy gap that exacerbates the disaffection of the EU citizens with the institutions, some excitement has been brought for the first time to European elections with candidates debating on TV and campaigning at the national level. Not enough to increase the turn out though, still a meager 43%.
Against the naysayers that were foreseeing a rise of the discontent and euro sceptic that would make the Parliament ungovernable, we have seen the pragmatism of a sort of grand coalition among EPP, Socialists and Liberals that ensures stability and a starting point closer than ever between Parliament and Commission in terms of developing the European agenda moving forward. Mr. Juncker and Mr. Schulz, that remains as the President of the European Parliament, will be a key axis in that regard. At the Council, enlargement has become a full reality beyond the rotating presidencies with the designation of Poland’s former Prime Minister Mr. Tusk as President of the European Council. All these developments at the political level reached their climax with the configuration of the new European Commission, the most political Commission that can be recalled with a high profile College including 9 former Prime Ministers or Deputy Prime Ministers, 19 former Ministers, 7 returning Commissioners and 8 former Members of the European Parliament.