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European Strategy and Policy Analysis System

ESPAS Report 2019 : Global Trends to 2030

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, April 5, 2019
Abstract in English: 
For something as unknown as the future, it appears to have become surprisingly predictable. A Google search of ‘future 2030’ yields more than 97 million results, all more or less claiming similar things: that 2030 will see a more connected, yet fragmented world, with hazardous shifts in demography and energy, and dangerous changes in technology, environment, and politics.
The future, while overall negative, appears to be a rather certain place.
This illusion of definitiveness is created by two dynamics: first, the pessimistic tone that runs through the vast majority of foresight reports. This is a common feature when it comes to future thinking, with one study showing that all studies undertaken on the future over the last 70 years have one thing in common; pessimism. The reason for this is simple: although both optimism and pessimism are natural human dispositions, the latter is more prevalent by far. Humans are, genetically speaking, biased towards the negative – some studies even indicate that this is particularly the case for Europeans. Second, pessimism in foresight is encouraged by the grave air that surrounds it: in general, negative statements are given more attention than positive ones. That said, more pessimism in foresight does not equal greater accuracy, as one study shows.
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52
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Trends in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This paper addresses the present state of play and future trends, uncertainties and possible disruptions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data in the following areas:
Political: AI is biased, difficult to scrutinise and to estimate its power, and – more so when embodied in autonomous systems – potentially dangerous. Policy responses are accountability, transparency, safety and control, and public debate. These should be based on ethics. AI will lead to better governance, more debate, new policy actors and processes, a contest over centralisation, and the EU catching up. AI might progress in a revolutionary or evolutionary mode, lead to new political divisions, and change democracy. AI might be misused as a “superior orders” defence. What if data analysis changes or replaces democracy?
Socio-economic: Big Data is changing the role of data, is often dependent on sensitive information, is handicapped in the short term but better in the long term due to data protection, and its industry is in danger of monopolisation. AI lowers the cost of prediction, replaces human prediction and human labour and causes social problems, increased nudging and misuse of the term AI. AI will lead to more data, economic growth and more job market distortions. AI might lead to new industry giants, a request for more privacy, new state solutions, yet unknown jobs, AI taxes and increased state ownership. What if new economic ideologies emerge, singularity strikes or AI monopolies are broken up?
Geopolitical: AI is increasing the power competition between the US and China and gives both more power. Europe tries to create businesses and find its strengths. All are investing in military solutions and the west has a slight disadvantage here. AI will lead to a shakeup of the international system, hierarchies and networks becoming more powerful, and real-life deception being more difficult. AI might lead to China becoming the most powerful power overall and in AI. The future of AI R&D and the success of Europe’s broad approach is uncertain. What if there are two digital worlds, China becomes a data-privacy defender, and AI become targets?
Technological: Superintelligent AI is invested in and researched, challenged by philosophy, and possible this century. It might imitate the brain, be assembled together or be designed by other AIs. An intelligence explosion or a conscious AI could be possible, and might be the last invention of humanity. It would require long term funding, need to overcome many technical hurdles, be dangerous due to its intellect, possibly be contained with collective intelligence, and maybe have humans lose their jobs, safety or purpose.
Key questions for policy-makers: What makes European AI distinctive? What areas can and should we prioritise, if any? What should be regulated? How could and should the EU foster AI development, avoid monopolisation, provide data pools, use high data standards, link researchers and corporations, balance fundamental with applied AI research and private with state funding, boost applications, compensate for job loss, keep AIs away from dangerous actors, support EU foreign policy (neighbourhood, FPI, democracy and human rights, aid and development, economic freedom), improve our lives with AI, change the geopolitical AI race, deal with autonomous weapons and superintelligent AI and organise Foresight?
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19
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Global Trends to 2030: New Ways out of Poverty and Exclusion

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Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This paper analyses the issues of poverty and exclusion in the context of the major trends that characterise the present and will shape the near future. It also explores the uncertainty that emerging trends may pose for EU societies in terms of poverty and exclusion, and looks at options and alternative paths to counteract these two phenomena.
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20
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The Future of Mobility and Migration Within and From Sub- Saharan Africa

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, December 17, 2018
Abstract in English: 
African migration – its drivers, dynamics, and consequences –increasingly features in global policy debates. Concerns vary widely, including everything from economic and human development, human rights, and human and state security. For OECD countries, particularly members of the European Union, there
are additional concerns. These include securing labour required to support an aging European population and expensive social welfare system; upholding commitments to human dignity; maintaining a positive reputation and influence throughout the ‘global south’; and politically derived imperative to starkly limit
spontaneous movements of Africans across Europe’s external boundaries. As illustration, despite a growing need for labour, the number of newly issued long-term work permits (12+ months) for African labour migrants has been reduced from 80.000 in 2008 to 20.000 in 2016.
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Number of pages: 
25
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Is the Internet Eroding Europe’s Middle Ground?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, December 17, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Within Europe, public debate has become increasingly concerned with issues of identity, belonging and threats associated with ‘out-groups’ (such as immigrants and refugees). These issues are the focus of many insurgent populist parties, which are shaping debates in many countries across Europe.
When asked to identify the most important issue facing Europe, survey respondents in 2017 gave the highest rankings to terrorism and immigration – two issues that provoke public debate on the threat of minority ‘out-groups’ to majority ‘in-groups’.
Polarisation is reflected in deeper divisions and distrust between opposing groups. There are many indicators of increasing polarisation in European societies (though no agreed measure or major comparative study).
The issues around which polarisation is taking place are especially related to national identity, culture and inclusion, between people who espouse cosmopolitan values and people who espouse traditional cultural and nationalist values.
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26
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Global Trends to 2030: Shaping the future in a fast-changing world

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Global power shifts, pressure on liberal democracies, challenges to global governance, the transformation of economic models and of the very fabric of societies, new uses and misuses of technology, humanity’s growing ecological footprint: the world may be on the cusp of a new geopolitical, geo-economic and geotechnological order. Against this backdrop, how can the European Union ensure that it holds its destiny in its own hands? What must it do to better prepare and shape the future, tackling emerging challenges and seizing the opportunities that will arise?
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Number of pages: 
72
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Global Trends to 2030: The Future of Migration and Integration

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Abstract in English: 
International migration and geographic mobility have major implications for societies and economies. This is true at global level, and, perhaps even more so, at European level. The special impact on Europe is partly down to its history. Until just two generations ago, most European countries recorded much more emigration than immigration. In fact, some EU Member States and neighbouring countries still do which implies a potential loss of talent and skills. As a result, there are no ‘classical’ immigration countries on the European continent, comparable to the US, Canada or Australia. This goes some way towards explaining why Europe’s migration policies often lack coherence, selectivity and a focus on socio-economic outcomes. Since the 1990s temporary or permanent admission granted by EU Member States is dominated more by rights-based and humanitarian considerations (family reunion, asylum, humanitarian protection) than by economic interests.
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10
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Global Trends to 2030: Identities and Biases in the Digital Age

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Digital technologies have opened up ways of discovering the world, creating an unprecedented access to knowledge and information. Fostering vast communication and connection opportunities, they came with the promise of furthering free and open democratic deliberation. And they have initially delivered: facilitating freedom of expression, enabling easier and faster access to information and greater transparency, boosting media diversity, and creating broader opportunities for civic engagement and political participation. Social media in particular now allow for unparalleled connectivity of a truly interactive nature. They help people stay in touch with friends and family, and find people who share the same passions, interests or beliefs across borders, facilitating new groups and communities of interest to form and grow.
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10
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Global Trends to 2030: The Future of Work and Workplaces

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Abstract in English: 
In some ways, the future of work is here; in others, it is shrouded in uncertainty or heralded with great expectations. Of course, throughout human history, work has changed, as have societies. Transformations in how and where work is conducted, by whom it is performed and under what conditions, as well as how it is remunerated and valued, have come hand in hand with changes in individual and family life, social cohesion and wellbeing, and civic and political life. Today, a number of observed mega-trends are again shifting the tectonics of work: Pervasive digital technology is opening up boundless new opportunities while at the same time blurring workplace boundaries and impacting human behaviours and expectations in ways that may still be unknown. Continuing population growth will create the biggest – but potentially most precarious and polarised – global workforce to date, with sustainability implications of an existential scale.
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14
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The Future of International Trade and Investment (ESPAS Ideas Paper)

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Abstract in English: 
This paper examines current trends, uncertainties and wild cards in relation to international trade and investment. It then considers implications for the European Union.
The European Union’s interest remains clear: a rules-based order is better than a transactional or winner-takes-all approach to international trade. But it is wise to plan for the worst, while hoping for the best.
The future of international trade and investment may lie somewhere between the extremes of the status quo and a reversion to protectionism. This would involve a thorough revision and rebalancing of multilateral norms, to take account of major global changes on many fronts. The EU has traditionally been a leading player in the creation of international institutions and norms. But the days when Europe could dictate the global agenda are over. Europe’s role will be increasingly a matter of seeking to influence events, rather than asserting dominance. In the coming decades, internal unity and a strong sense of purpose will be all the more important.
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12
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