We did it. We have survived another year and now it’s time to prepare ourselves for another roller-coaster ride. Here is what 2019 has in store for us.
Will Brexit finally happen?
Assuming the UK’s departure from the EU is not delayed or derailed, Brexit will finally happen on 29 March. But in reality nobody – in either London or Brussels – knows for sure how Brexit will affect the UK and the old continent. With the looming possibility of a no-deal and British Prime Minister Theresa May’s slender majority on the line, the chances that Britons will be called to vote in a second referendum are growing, if only because this is the only way of breaking the political deadlock. But it is yet to be seen whether voters will be offered another opportunity to reverse their decision to leave the EU or whether they will be asked to approve the current Brexit deal. If the stalemate remains, a general election might be the only way out.
European elections and the rise of the far-right
In 2019, Europe faces economic and political challenges which could shape its future. On 26 May, some 500 million people from 27 member states (28 if Brexit is stalled) are eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections. While in Malta the Labour Party is set for another landslide victory, the rest of Europe is bracing itself for a wave of euroscepticism. Polls suggest that far-right parties across Europe are set for massive gains in next year’s European Parliament elections while mainstream centre-right and centre-left parties are set to see their dominance diminished. An expanded far-right in the European Parliament will make cross-party alliances more difficult and block legislation.
Could Trump be put to the sword?
Across the pond a huge question mark hangs over the Donald Trump administration. When special counsel Robert Mueller releases the findings of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, Trump could be in trouble. The Mueller probe has led to criminal charges against 33 people, including three of Trump’s closest aides, and engulfed his administration in a legal and political quagmire unlike anything the US has witnessed since the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998, and Watergate in 1972. The findings could exonerate Trump but if there is enough evidence that he was aware of his associates’ criminal activity, or to have obstructed justice, there will most certainly be calls for impeachment.
Woman’s FIFA World Cup
The biggest sporting event of the year will take place in France where 24 teams will hope to reach the final in Lyon on 7 July. The team to beat remain the reigning World Champions, the USA, but a host of countries including France, Germany, England and Japan are among the favourites to lift the trophy. The women’s game is growing in stature and expectations have never been higher for the upcoming World Cup. Another major football tournament will take place in a yet named host nation, as 24 African countries will compete in the African Cup of Nations while England will look at ending their 63 years of hurt by winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League in June. If football isn’t your cup of tea, there are many other exciting sporting events happening in 2019, including the Rugby World Cup, which will take place in Japan in September, the Cricket World Cup, which will start in London in May or the World Athletics Championships which will this year be hosted by Qatar in September.
A looming financial crisis?
There should be nothing to worry about in 2019 as according to experts at investment bank JPMorgan the next global financial crisis will only begin in 2020. But while the economic forecasts for Malta remain steadily positive, the International Monetary Fund has warned that 2019 could be a terrible year given that world financial system is unprepared for another downturn. The warning comes as global growth is forecast to slow as a result of the looming trade war between the US and China which could escalate in the coming weeks after a 90-day moratorium ends. Brexit and the tug-of-war between the EU and Italy’s far-right government could also threaten the global economy. Since the 2008 crash, the west has relied on the emerging economies of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey to drive growth, but all are going through political and economic upheaval. Financial experts are also predicting large-scale business failures that could also lead to bank failures in emerging markets.