Energy & Environment

December of fire and a decisive 2024

December 2023
By Gianni Pittella

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The Cop 28 conference wrapped up with a collective determination – not easily reached – to gradually phase out the use of fossil fuels, which stand as the primary cause of the planet’s warming. Moreover, the European Council has initiated discussions regarding the accession of Ukraine and Moldova. This move was made possible by the departure of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from the meeting. Nevertheless, the agreement concerning the EU budget revision and aid allocation to Kiev got delayed due to Orbán’s opposition. Looking ahead, there’s an anticipation of a new Council session aimed at revamping the Stability Pact. If no consensus is reached, the former detrimental regulations, paused during the Covid period, might resurface. Additionally, efforts are underway to fulfill the commitment of providing financial aid to Ukraine.

It’s been an incredibly eventful December. Yet, the prospects for the new year are even more interesting and, in many ways, more worrying. 2024 will be a pivotal election year, with the United States choosing their President and Europe its Parliament.

It might sound unbelievable, but in the US, the same players from the last election look to be back in the game. Despite numerous legal issues, Trump doesn’t seem willing to abandon his candidacy. His age and the identical rhetoric from four years ago give an impression that time has stood still in his world.

Honestly, I hope that 2024 won’t be another round of Trump vs. Biden. But if that happens and if Trump wins, the consequences for the world would be clear and deeply troubling. One consequence would be that the EU would remain the only major global institution defending culture, values, and Western principles in a world led by autocrats capable of wars, oppression, stifling dissent and freedoms, and undermining democracy.

In such an unfortunate scenario, would the European Union be able to face this challenge? If Orbán can afford to simply leave the room to avoid vetoing and blocking Ukraine’s accession process, if we cannot rid ourselves of this veto power that undermines a democratic institution, then I’m worried about what lies ahead.

If many party leaders in Italy are treating the European elections as a way to flex their national strength and are essentially deceiving voters by running as top candidates, fully aware that they’ll have to step down the next day due to conflicts of interest, then it’s no wonder doubt and pessimism dominate the scene. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that, considering the pivotal importance of this election year, everyone grasps the gravity of this momentous occasion.