With the New Year upon us, E&M looks to the future and wonders what 2016 might bring for Europe and beyond.
Marred as it was by financial crisis, an unprecedented influx of refugees and the possibility of both a Brexit and Grexit, 2015 might well be a year that most Europeans would prefer to forget. Is 2016 likely to be any better? E&M editors have been doing a spot of divining and bring you their predictions for the year ahead.
As foreseen by Chris Ruff
- January: A tell-all exposé is released, mirroring that of David Cameron’s biography, exposing Jeremy Corbyn’s fondness for the film Scarface, foie gras and unfairly traded coffee.
- March: EU chiefs propose directive banning the word “crisis”. After a terrible year stumbling from one catastrophe to the next the European Commission decides to invoke a little known clause in the Lisbon Treaty and outlaw the “reckless use of certain expressions which threaten to endanger the ever-closer unity of the European peoples”. A spokesperson explains: “2016 will be a crisis-free year. From now on we will only speak of disagreements, scuffles, dilemmas and very occasionally ‘a right bloody mess'”
- July: Viktor Orbán continues to be a thorn in the side for other EU leaders, insisting at a summit of EU finance ministers in Budapest that all proceedings be conducted in Latin. “Mr Orban is simply protecting Europe’s Christian values and culture”, said an aide.
- November: President Donald Trump is sworn into the White House. “Let’s make America great again!” he barks to the whooping and screaming crowds at the inauguration address. “Great. AGAIN!” Cheers once more. “A-M-E-R-I-C-A, what does that spell?” The crowd roars in unison. “It’s gonna be GREAT!” People, cheering slightly less now, nervously start looking at each other. Steam is coming from President Trump’s ears. “Did I mention I’m a billionaire? I made loads of MONEY! Money is GREAT” Nervous laughter. His face is getting redder by the second. “Ya know what’s great about the US of A? EVERYTHING!” Some people start backing away slowly. His hair is now hovering 3 cm above his head, buttressed by a layer of hot air. “AMERICA. GREAT. AMERICA. GREAT” he repeats over and over in a robot-like fashion. People are screaming. The President’s entire body is now splitting in two as if along an invisible seam. As the two sides of his body sag to either side like a cheap sleeping bag a silhouette appears in front of the glow of the Capitol building’s floodlights. The crowd squint, but all they can make out is his long leather boots and starkly upright posture, the hint of a shadow above the figure’s top lip. Suddenly, as red banners are unfurled from every available lamppost, a queer, yet powerful voice with a strong Austrian accent transcends the hushed masses: “You’ve missed me haven’t you?”
As foreseen by Sam Volpe
- In football, February will see the election of a new FIFA President. Much like the old one, whichever tainted bureaucrat takes over will struggle to deny numerous damning allegations and do nothing whatsoever to make the sport more accessible to fans. Towards the end of the year, in yet another twist in the saga “Cristiano Ronaldo: Saint or Sinner”, the Portuguese star will sell the naming rights for his next, as yet unborn, child. “Nike-Samsung Ronaldo” is a name unlikely to trip off the tongue.
- In the summer, as per usual, the women’s Olympic football tournament will far outshine the men’s equivalent, because well, they actually care about the thing. A talented Team GB would have been among the contenders except, well, administrators from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales couldn’t work out how to do the exact same thing they did in 2012 again. Instead, look out for some irritated British women on a TV screen near you come August.
- Cycling and athletics are two sports which will continue the war on doping into 2016 with differing results. July will see the world’s best cyclists repeatedly struggle immensely on the cols of the Tour De France, this will be reassuring to everyone except Chris Froome’s wife Michelle who’ll annoy the entirety of Europe on Twitter. As for the world of track and field events, former British MP Sebastian Coe will confuse his role as president of the sport’s governing body with his political past and try to impose trade sanctions on Russia in response to mass doping. Vladimir Putin will find this very funny, and then enter the Greco-Roman wrestling in Rio. That man likes a challenge.
- Finally, to comment on world tennis, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic will continue to win almost everything. It’s not exactly straining the tea-leaves to say so, but they’re both just really good.
Towards the end of the year, in yet another twist in the saga “Cristiano Ronaldo: Saint or Sinner”, the Portuguese star will sell the naming rights for his next, as yet unborn, child.
As foreseen by Frances Jackson
- Calls for a sugar tax will gain pace in the UK and beyond, with the result that chocolatiers and confiseurs replace bankers as the continent’s pariahs-in-chief. Swiss banks will spot the business opportunity and begin to offer a range of new services, including the provision of cool, dry places, well away from strong light and odours, for customers to store their stash of the sweet stuff.
- The craze for “food portmanteaux”, as epitomised by the cronut, will reach new heights, making it difficult to buy anything edible that is not in fact made up of at least two foodstuffs. Fish and chips will do away with the middle-man and become “frips”, that is to say, batter-fried chips, while the Bavarian Weißwurstfrühstück will come to feature pretzel-shaped sausages, thus disposing of the need for real pretzels.
- A new marketing campaign for dill, devised with the help of a well-known Manhattan ad agency and subsidised by the EU, will finally enable the herb – long the sole preserve of Eastern European cuisine – to break into the Western market. Slogans will include “Dill: not actually as bad as you might think” and “So many babushkas can’t be wrong”.
As foreseen by Nicoletta Enria
- Kanye West’s decision to step into politics in preparation for his 2020 bid to become US president will shake up the hip-hop world as the self-proclaimed hip-hop prophet resigns from the music industry. Robbed of guidance, the European hip-hop scene will have to take a pause for reflection before beginning its search for the new Messiah.
- Bieber Fever will end up infecting everyone in Europe, when the young popstar’s Renaissance reaches the continent with his 2016 “Purpose” tour. If you catch sight of teenagers fainting on the street, fear not, Justin Bieber may be in the vicinity and his intoxicating presence will sure to affect love-struck adolescents across Europe.
- Old meets new, as electronic music slowly sweeps the world with the likes of Skrillex and Diplo ready to quash all independent acoustic or rock music. How will repressed music genres react? What better way than to merge genres and create a new androgynous music style – unrecognisable and unable to fit in any limiting musical description. One music to suit all, the Esperanto of the music world.
- With Euroscepticism on the rise, the competition in this year’s Eurovision will be fierce. A no-holes-barred battle between countries fighting to prove their superiority to other countries, and not just musically. Could the Hunger Games have found its European successor? Stockholm will have to prepare the arena accordingly.
As foreseen by John Wheatley
- Smart homes: as austerity and thrifty governance squeezes budgets ever more tightly, parliaments across Europe bring the technology of the smart home to their respective military installations with SH2, resulting in sentient silos. The initial panic gives way to widespread popularity when SH2 designs the first robot to twerk realistically.
- Driverless cars: SH2 is expanded to manage congestion and driverless cars become its eyes and ears around the globe. Public support becomes expands and SH2 stocks soar.
- Commercial spaceflight: test flights continue to fail unexpectedly. Public opinion puts pressure on space agencies to expand SH2 to managing resupply missions. The missions succeed.
- The end of memes: with its presence in the satellite network, SH2 decides it can now oversee humanity’s passing without the risk of its own destruction. Thus, memes cease to be a mainstay of the internet, due to the audience being enslaved, deceased or robotic. Happy New Year.
Cover photo: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Flickr); Licence: CC0 1.0