Centuries of empire domination across much of the world and two World Wars have given rise to today's Europe - a continent flush in economic power and gains, under the umbrella of the powerhouse European Union (EU), but yet, a continent facing contraction and division in 2019 from a clash of elitists, the rise of the far right, political agitation and a failure to reform its aggregate security system.
The Maastricht Treaty signed on February 7, 1992 at Netherlands, to further the integration of Europe, was a continent-saving vehicle to cope with modern times. The founding of the EU at Maastricht, Netherlands, November 1, 1993, further solidified Europe's needed integration to adapt into a dynamic world against the historical blight of two people-consuming World Wars. The six founding members of Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have witnessed membership rise to 28-nations with a total population of 513-million people.
Embarrassing statements to Europe about its proportionate funding for NATO from the isolating United States (US) President Donald Trump, should be more than sufficient to prod Europe in 2019 to reform its main security group NATO, which has provided the defense security so that the continent could flourish.
Not without problems, the EU has admitted former soviet-bloc nations as robust trade, freedom of movement and political cooperation have provided rising standards of living to all EU members. Today's Europe must be the most prosperous for most Europeans than at any other time in the continent's history.
In spite of these solid social and economic gains by the EU, the people of member country, the United Kingdom (UK), have voted to leave the union and barring no 12th-hour change of heart, the UK will exit the EU on March 29, 2019 - a contraction of EU membership.
Viktor Orban is steering EU-member nation, Hungary, directly into conflict with the norms of the union. Orban's policy on migration, education and labor will conflict with the EU in 2019. In Italy, the Eurosceptic government will continue to butt heads with the EU in 2019 in respect to budgetary guidelines and migration issues. In Poland, judiciary and other social reforms will buck EU mandates in 2019. Austria could conflict with the EU in 2019 with regards to migration.
A political leadership crisis developing in Belgium could impact Europe in 2019 and Catalonia's skirting with sovereignty will not disappear from the affairs of Spain. While land ownership issues could become aggravated in Ireland in 2019, the Emerald Isle's still robust economy could act as a model for both Portugal and Greece. Corruption questions will prolong in Malta in 2019, while the affairs of Albania, Belarus, Armenia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova and Georgia will continue to adjust to market economies under a constant threat of Russian meddling.
The expressed intent of Ukraine to be closer to Europe has cost that country Crimea, annexed by Russia, as well as ongoing agitations and conflict in its east from Russian meddling. This saga of Ukraine, will continue in 2019. Norway, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland will continue to prosper in 2019, but all will face right wing actions.
Angela Merkel has been a voice and world leading figure for global stability and rational leadership from the helm of her Germany. Her presence remains a source of comfort in the topsy curvy world of international affairs. Under her, Germany will continue to prosper in 2019 in spite of right wing troubles brought to the fore by her exercising the humanitarian responsibility of housing tens of thousands of displaced people, in 2015 and subsequently.
Luxembourg will continue to build wealth in 2019 based upon its financial health and financial business atmosphere.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron will have to find a way to reconnect with the French people in 2019 from atop his seemingly elitist pedestal. Numerous weekends of "yellow vest" protests over reforms and other issues have left too many French people believing that the man to whom they gave a mandate, has forgotten the average citizens. Under a reengaged leadership, a stable labor market and defeated extremism, France will prosper in 2019.
An economic warning to the UK that it could become poorer should it leave the EU without an agreement should be taken very seriously. UK residents in 2019 will continue to be unsure as to the Kingdom's best path forward, with the EU or Brexit. The final decision should rest solely with the British people - its electorate.
Amid a looming Brexit, migration issues, right wing troubles, Russian meddling and elitists troubles within the EU, Europe will likely fair well in 2019. A barometer to the continent's stability post Brexit or no exit, would be the political mood of the Czech Republic more so than Poland's or Hungary's or even Italy's. There is an overwhelming and rising Russian influence in the Czech Republic. If EU loyalty is maintained in the Czech Republic, then Europe could enjoy a bountiful 2019.
Tomorrow: The World in 2019 - China.