Struggles for change

Populist parties, extremists on the left and right, and hostile foreign governments are all likely to exploit grievances and economic vulnerabilities to further their agendas.

01
Europe

Images: Getty Images (Xavier Leoty/AFP; Thierry Monasse; Louisa Gouliamaki; Kiran Ridley; Hollie Adams)

ROLL OVER DOT CATEGORIES TO SHOW SPECIFIC  COUNTRIES

Migration will return to the top of the EU agenda in 2022, with a divide forming between those states that refuse mandatory quotas and those seeking a total overhaul of the system.

DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM FOR REFUGEES

Divided or united?

A plethora of thorny issues will probably drive a wedge between European countries in 2022. From imminent challenges to policy on migration and the rule of law, to longer term strategic issues such
as climate change and defence policy, there is shrinking common ground between European powers. Such divisions will provide ample opportunity for the many political actors across the continent that
seek to change the status quo.

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

Europe

Struggles
for change

A resurgence of anti-establishment sentiment and agitation in Europe is likely in 2022, amid uneven national recoveries from the pandemic. Weakened economies, public disaffection with mainstream political parties, and a probable rise in immigration will provide opportunities for the many political actors that seek to change the status quo in Europe. Populist parties, extremists on the left and right, and hostile foreign governments are all likely to exploit grievances and economic vulnerabilities to further their agendas.

Europe enters 2022 in a weakened state, albeit with more resilient prospects for economic recovery than many other regions. It is also likely to be a year of relative continuity with little change at upcoming national elections, with the exception of Viktor Orban’s government in Hungary, facing the highest chance of an electoral defeat since 2010. But this does not mean Europe will escape political turbulence. Countries across the continent face multiple threats to their recovery and 2022 is likely to be a year where crises on several fronts will test the EU.

New Covid-19 outbreaks and ongoing disruption to global supply chains, and particularly energy supplies, are the main factors that could derail or slow growth and compound a raft of other issues that threaten discord. These risk factors for Europe as a whole are heavily interconnected to the recovery and stability prospects of other regions, which themselves are pegged to wider negative geopolitical trends and instability. 

The increasingly competitive and adversarial nature of international relations, not least between Russia, China and the United States, but also between smaller states in Europe’s near abroad will almost certainly have a direct impact on how Europe fares in the coming year. Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria and the Western Balkan states, are particularly vulnerable to crises in 2022 that the EU can ill afford and seems poorly equipped to prevent. >>


Key indicators


Greece-Turkey tensions

The eastern Mediterranean is a potential crisis flashpoint in 2022 amid territorial disputes over gas reserves. The three key issues to track as sources of tensions between Greece and Turkey remain the unification of Cyprus, gas exploration rights, and maritime border disputes. A specific development that would probably lead to naval deployments and risks of confrontation is the exclusion of Turkey from gas production and distribution deals between Israel, Greece and Egypt. This would probably lead to Ankara ramping up provocative exploration operations in Greek waters.


Trade union activism

There was a slump in trade unions’ mobilisation in Europe in 2020 amid widespread lockdowns. Rising unemployment and inflation rates make a sharp rise of industrial activism more likely, particularly as these converge with an easing of Covid-19-related restrictions and furlough schemes. A slower than anticipated economic recovery, with growth levels staying below 1-2%, may lead governments to implement austerity measures that in turn would point to strikes and walk-outs being more likely. Job losses and higher costs for businesses would also make it harder for these to meet demands from unions.


Libertarian terrorism

The growing infusion of libertarian ideologies among radical political movements would push up the potential for violence at demonstrations and acts of terrorism. Extremist groups have been promoting anti-state and anti-globalist ideas catalysing opposition to Covid-19 restrictions and vaccinations. Most actions have been limited to activism and civil disobedience so far. But the tying together of radical ideologies on both the extreme left and right has led to a proliferation of conspiracy theories, and with this, calls for violence against ‘global corrupt political and economic elites’.

 

CLICK ON FLAGS TO
SHOW INFORMATION

Forecasts

SERBIA

General election

April

EUROPE

Europe Day

8 May

Europe

Eid Al-Fitr

2 May–3 May

Europe

End of Ramadan

1 May

EUROPE

International Worker's Day

1 May

France

Presidential election
 – 2nd round

24 April

Europe

Earth Day

22 April

United Kingdom / Ireland

Anniversary of Good 
Friday Agreement

15 April

FRANCE

Presidential election 
– 1st round

10 April

EUROPE

Start of Ramadan

2 April

France

Legislative elections
–  2nd round

June

Hungary

Legislative elections

April

Europe

Annunciation Day

25 March

AUSTRIA

Presidential election

April

BELGIUM

EU leaders' endorsment of Strategic Compass

March

GERMANY

Munich Security Conference

18 February–20 February

Belgium

EU-AU summit

17 February–18 February

GERMANY

Presidential election

Before 16 February

PORTUGAL

Legislative elections

30th January 2022

FRANCE

Anniversary of the 
Charlie Hebdo attack

7th January 2022

France

Legislative elections – 1st round

June

Malta

Legislative elections

June

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Presidential election

October

Germany

G7 Summit

Before December

GERMANY

Anniversary of Paris Climate Agreement

12 December

FRANCE

Anniversary of the Bataclan attack

13 November

FRANCE

Anniversary of Samuel 
Paty's assassination

16 October

Spain

Anniversary of 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia

1 October

Slovenia

Presidential election

October

Latvia

Legislative elections

October

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Legislative elections

October

Spain

National Day of Catalonia

11 September

Portugal

UN Ocean Conference 
in Lisbon

27 June–1 July

SWEDEN

Legislative elections

September

EUROPE

Ashura

7 August–8 August

FRANCE

Anniversary of the 1995 Metro Saint Michel attack in Paris

25 July

FRaNCE

Anniversary of 
the Nice attack

14 July

UNITED KINGDOM

Orangemen's Day

12 July

EUROPE

Eid Al-Adha

9 July

Hungary

Referendum on LGBT+ law

Before July

SPAIN

NATO Summit in Madrid

29 June–30 June

Slovenia

Legislative elections

June

FRANCE

Orthodox Christmas Eve

6th January 2022

Dates to watch

Scroll down

Struggles for change

Populist parties, extremists on the left and right, and hostile foreign governments are all likely to exploit grievances and economic vulnerabilities to further their agendas.

01
Europe

A plethora of thorny issues will probably drive a wedge between European countries in 2022. From imminent challenges to policy on migration and the rule of law, to longer term strategic issues such as climate change and defence policy, there is shrinking common ground between European powers. Such divisions will provide ample opportunity for the many political actors across the continent that seek to change the status quo.

Forecasts

Struggles
for change

A resurgence of anti-establishment sentiment and agitation in Europe is likely in 2022, amid uneven national recoveries from the pandemic. Weakened economies, public disaffection with mainstream political parties, and a probable rise in immigration will provide opportunities for the many political actors that seek to change the status quo in Europe. Populist parties, extremists on the left and right, and hostile foreign governments are all likely to exploit grievances and economic vulnerabilities to further their agendas.

Populist parties, extremists on the left and right, and hostile foreign governments are all likely to exploit grievances and economic vulnerabilities to further their agendas.

Europe enters 2022 in a weakened state, albeit with more resilient prospects for economic recovery than many other regions. It is also likely to be a year of relative continuity with little change at upcoming national elections, with the exception of  Viktor Orban's government in Hungary, facing the highest chance of an electoral defeat since 2010. But this does not mean Europe will escape political turbulence. Countries across the continent face multiple threats to their recovery and 2022 is likely to be a year where crises on several fronts will test the EU.

New Covid-19 outbreaks and ongoing disruption to global supply chains, and particularly energy supplies, are the main factors that could derail or low growth and compound a raft of other issues that threaten discord. These risk factors for Europe as a whole are heavily interconnected to the recovery and stability prospects of other regions, which themselves are pegged to wider negative geopolitical trends and instability. 

The increasingly competitive and adversarial nature of international relations, not least between Russia, China and the United States, but also by smaller states in Europe’s near abroad will almost certainly have a direct impact on how Europe fares in the coming year. Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria and the Western Balkan states, are particularly vulnerable to crises in 2022 that the EU can ill afford and seems poorly equipped to prevent.


For best results
We recommend that you view this in a desktop browser. If using a tablet or smartphone, some infographics may only respond to device-specific gestures.

Images: Getty Images (Xavier Leoty/AFP; Thierry Monasse; Louisa Gouliamaki; Kiran Ridley; Hollie Adams)

Key indicators


Greece-Turkey tensions

The eastern Mediterranean is a potential crisis flashpoint in 2022 amid territorial disputes over gas reserves. The three key issues to track as sources of tensions between Greece and Turkey remain the unification of Cyprus, gas exploration rights, and maritime border disputes. A specific development that would probably lead to naval deployments and risks of confrontation is the exclusion of Turkey from gas production and distribution deals between Israel, Greece and Egypt. This would probably lead to Ankara ramping up provocative exploration operations in Greek waters.


Trade union activism

There was a slump in trade unions’ mobilisation in Europe in 2020 amid widespread lockdowns. Rising unemployment and inflation rates make a sharp rise of industrial activism more likely, particularly as these converge with an easing of Covid-19-related restrictions and furlough schemes. A slower than anticipated economic recovery, with growth levels staying below 1-2%, may lead governments to implement austerity measures that in turn would point to strikes and walk-outs being more likely. Job losses and higher costs for businesses would also make it harder for these to meet demands from unions.


Libertarian terrorism

The growing infusion of libertarian ideologies among radical political movements would push up the potential for violence at demonstrations and acts of terrorism. Extremist groups have been promoting anti-state and anti-globalist ideas catalysing opposition to Covid-19 restrictions and vaccinations. Most actions have been limited to activism and civil disobedience so far. But the tying together of radical ideologies on both the extreme left and right has led to a proliferation of conspiracy theories, and with this, calls for violence against ‘global corrupt political and economic elites’.

 

UNITED KINGDOM

Orangemen's Day

12 July

EUROPE

Start of Ramadan

2 April

Europe

Eid Al-Fitr

2 May–3 May

Europe

End of Ramadan

1 May

EUROPE

International Worker's Day

1 May

France

Presidential election
 – 2nd round

24 April

Europe

Earth Day

22 April

UK / Ireland

Anniversary of Good 
Friday Agreement

15 April

FRANCE

Presidential election 
– 1st round

10 April

SERBIA

General election

April

Hungary

Legislative elections

April

Malta

Legislative elections

June

Europe

Annunciation Day

25 March

AUSTRIA

Presidential election

April

BELGIUM

EU leaders' endorsment of Strategic Compass

March

GERMANY

Munich Security Conference

18 February - 20 February

Belgium

EU-AU summit

17 February–18 February

GERMANY

Presidential election

Before 16 February

PORTUGAL

Legislative elections

30th January 2022

FRANCE

Anniversary of the 
Charlie Hebdo attack

7th January 2022

EUROPE

Europe Day

8 May

Portugal

UN Ocean Conference 
in Lisbon

27 June–1 July

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Presidential election

October

Slovenia

Presidential election

October

Germany

G7 Summit

Before December

GERMANY

Anniversary of Paris Climate Agreement

12 December

FRANCE

Anniversary of the Bataclan attack

13 November

FRANCE

Anniversary of Samuel 
Paty's assassination

16 October

Spain

Anniversary of 2017 independence referendum in Catalonia

1 October

Latvia

Legislative elections

October

Slovenia

Legislative elections

June

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Legislative elections

October

Spain

National Day of Catalonia

11 September

SWEDEN

Legislative elections

September

EUROPE

Ashura

7 August–8 August

FRANCE

Anniversary of the 1995 Metro Saint Michel attack in Paris

25 July

FRaNCE

Anniversary of 
the Nice attack

14 July

EUROPE

Eid Al-Adha

9 July

Hungary

Referendum on LGBT+ law

Before July

SPAIN

NATO Summit in Madrid

29 June–30 June

FRANCE

Orthodox Christmas Eve

6th January 2022

Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.

Divided or united?

Europe