5 events that will shape the European Union in 2016

1. EU Referendum in the UK

Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? First time voters are given a say on EU membership for 41 years and is scheduled to take place before the end of 2017. Those in favour of a British withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) argue that outside the EU, the UK would better control immigration, its own trade negotiations, and freed from EU regulations. Those in favour of remaining in the EU, argue that leaving the EU would risk the UK’s prosperity, diminish its influence over world affairs, and result in trade barriers between the UK and the EU.

2. Dealing with the Refugee Crisis

More than a million refugees crossed into Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggled to decide how to provide humanitarian support to people who have been hurt or displaced. According the the CNN, the number of refugees arriving in Europe has dropped dramatically since December, due to stricter border policies in Turkey and other EU nations, as well as worsening weather conditions along the refugee route. 2016 is the year where Europe has to face the borders’ challenge  in the continent’s largest refugee influx since the end of World War II.

3.  TTIP Negotiations

2016 might be the year where the European negotiators will finalize the trade pact with the US. But is still unknown if the agreement will come together under the Obama administration or not. By summer of the new year, the aim is to have moved forward the negotiations by having all the text of the deal ready. Opponents to the TTIP see it as a threat to the European law, especially regarding environment, public health and food regulation.

4. The Challenge of Climate Change

What’s next after COP21 in Paris? Many of the activists who attended the demonstrations agreed on the fact that in order to reduce the impact of climate change and global warming, the political and social system has to change first. After her participation in COP21, activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein, believes that the response to climate change has to come from the citizens, since world leaders said anything about the carbon budget or the unlimited power of fossil fuels companies.

5. Raise of Nationalism

A direct consequence of the four above: part of the European citizens’ response to the European crisis has been rise their nationalist identity against big global lenders. European frameworks are under assault amid a renewed obsession with national identity. In France, the right-wing ultra-nationalists National Front party with Marine Le Pen; in the UK the whole country faces questions of where it belongs; and also Italy, Portugal or Spain face similar nationalist defiance.

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