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13th Jul 2020

Magazine

Europe in Review 2014

"The year politics came back to Europe" - Donald Tusk's words as he took over the EU Council presidency on 1 December, 10 months after Russia invaded Ukraine when a popular uprising overthrew its corrupt and pro-Russian president.

EUobserver, in its second annual review, looks back at the main events which shaped European affairs in 2014.

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  • EUobserver, in its second annual review, looks back at the main events which shaped European affairs in 2014. (Photo: EUobserver)

The year also saw: the election of a new European Parliament and its phalanx of anti-EU deputies; the appointment of a new European Commission, EU Council chief, and head of foreign relations; as well as a wave of pro-democracy protests in central and eastern Europe.

The parliament forced through a novel way of choosing top jobs: the "top candidate" process, which heralds a sea-change in EU elections in years to come.

The new commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, had to fight for his job moments after his appointment following revelations that he helped engineer mass-scale tax avoidance in his time as the leader of Luxembourg. But his biggest challenge is likely to be getting the EU economy back to growth, as far-left parties in Greece and Spain threaten to unseat the political establishment.

The UK this year survived a vote on Scottish secession, while Spain quashed a referendum on Catalan independence.

But the 2015 British elections also threaten the status quo: a surge in support for the anti-EU Ukip party will make the prospect of a British exit in 2017 and a second Scottish vote more likely.

Meanwhile, looking over the Mediterranean horizon, things got worse - again - with a new war in Gaza and the emergence of Isis in Iraq and Syria.

The deepening conflicts risk seeing more terrorist attacks and more migrants risking their lives to cross the sea to Europe - still an oasis of prosperity and rule of law, but struggling to contain internal and external challenges as never before.

Click here to read previous editions of Europe in Review magazines.

Analysis

From Solana to Mogherini: What did Ashton really do?

Ashton's defenders say she created Europe's foreign service and clinched the Iran and Kosovo-Serbia accords. But in fact she played a minor role in all three, posing the question: How should we remember the EU's first foreign policy chief?

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'Dictator' vindicated

In January, Viktor Orban's inflammatory comments concerning migrants raised eyebrows. By the end of the year, politicians across Europe echoed his sentiments.

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