European politicians pondering 2023

Tuesday 3rd January, 2023 - Bruce Sterling

WHAT WILL MATTER IN 2023? This week, Playbook brings you an exclusive peek into the topics that will dominate EU politics this year — as predicted by Brussels’ top officials. We’ll start today with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, some of her colleagues, the new Swedish Council presidency and its predecessors. We’ll have more predictions for 2023 from top officials later in the week, including from Spain’s EU ambassador, and, rather fittingly, from the Commission’s vice president for foresight, Maroš Šefčovič.

Looking into the crystal ball: Playbook asked everyone to list the three developments that will matter most in 2023. Unsurprisingly, most included Russia’s war on Ukraine as their first pick. The exceptions: Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson and Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton, who focused on key developments in their own portfolios — citing a worldwide renewable energy boom and the need for Europe to maintain its industrial base, respectively.

The other key priorities give a fascinating preview of what to expect this year — from a renewables boom and a worldwide scramble for the increasingly scarce materials needed to build them, to trade deals with South America and a stronger focus on inequality as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. Here’s the full write-up …

**A message from the United Nations World Food Programme: It’s 2023, and the world is still facing a food crisis of unprecedented proportions — the largest in modern history. That’s why WFP and the European Union are working together to reach everyone in need with the right support, no matter who or where they are.**


Favorite book read in 2022: Yuval Harari’s “21 lessons for the 21st century.”

3 developments that will matter most in 2023: “Support for Ukraine in pushing back the aggressor. Speeding up the transition to renewable energies in Europe. Strengthening competitiveness in Europe and forging new strategic alliances globally.”

In 2020 EU leaders and the public were scrambling for masks, in 2021 for COVID vaccines and microchips, in 2022 it was natural gas. What will be the vital scarce good in 2023? “Clean energy.”


Favorite book: “Samlede værker” by Lydia Sandgren — “it gives you suspense and a lot of food for thought.”

3 developments in 2023: “The war in Ukraine is still defining the situation. So the energy crisis will remain in focus. Together with our ability and willingness to use our common strengths. Accelerating the fight against climate change is key — both for the planet, the war and human wellbeing. Social cohesion and belief in the strength of our European welfare model and our social market economy is essential and will be tested.”

Next scarce good: “Affordable input for European supply chains will be key — and our willingness to pay for security. What we should never be in short supply of in Europe is our ability to work together.”


Favorite book in 2022: “The Power of Geography” by Tim Marshall.

3 developments in 2023: “Continuation of Russia’s war against Ukraine but also continued strong support by Europe and international partners. New geopolitical order as an impact of the war. [It will be] most interesting to see positioning of China and rise of India. The EU has raised its political profile at the global level and will further strengthen its security and defense capacities (NATO accession Sweden and Finland; strategic compass). Race against climate change impacting also Europe heavily with extreme weather conditions. Climate change will also drive migration from exposed continents, especially Africa.”

Next scarce good: “Green energy (renewables, solar and wind power, hydrogen) will be the most vital source to drive the EU’s economy and protect the environment. The second, equally vital good, will be skilled labor force to implement the green and digital transition and to foster Europe’s innovation capacity.”


Favorite book in 2022: Serhii Plokhy’s “The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine.”

3 developments in 2023: “Restoration of peace in Europe, reconstruction of Ukraine and the EU’s strategic autonomy, which at least in some areas, for example, energy and raw materials, could be achieved by speeding up the European Green Deal.”

Next scarce good: “Solar panels and wind turbines will be a key commodity. Last year we saw largely increased number of applications to develop new renewable energy parks. Once permissions to build them will be issued we will see an increased demand of [these] technologies.”


Favorite book in 2022: “Quantum mechanics of molecular structure” by Professor Kaoru Yamanouchi, on MOOC…. (((what kind of leisure reading is that??))