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European Union

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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The Future of Government 2030+ - A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, March 1, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The Future of Government 2030+: A Citizen Centric Perspective on New Government Models project brings citizens to the centre of the scene. The objective of this project is to explore the emerging societal challenges, analyse trends in a rapidly changing digital world and launch an EU-wide debate on the possible future government models. To address this, citizen engagement, foresight and design are combined, with recent literature from the field of digital politics and media as a framework. The main research question of the project is: How will citizens, together with other actors, shape governments, policies and democracy in 2030 and beyond? Throughout the highly participatory process, more than 150 citizens, together with CSO, think tank, business and public sector representatives, as well as 100 design students participated in the creation of future scenarios and concepts. Four scenarios have been created using the 20 stories emerged from citizen workshops. They served as an inspiration for design students to develop 40 FuturGov concepts. Through the FuturGov Engagement Game, the project’s ambition is to trigger and launch a debate with citizens, businesses, civil society organizations, policy-makers and civil servants in Europe.
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102
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The Future of Rail - Opportunities for energy and the environment

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, February 8, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Global demand for transport is growing fast. On present trends, passenger and freight activity will more than double by 2050.Such growth is a token of social and economic progress. But it carries with it growth in energy demand and in emissions of CO2 and atmospheric pollutants.Greater reliance on rail can cut that growth. The world is becoming ever more urbanised and rail travel is well matched to urban needs.High-speed rail can serve as an alternative to short-distance air travel. Conventional and freight rail can complement other transport modes to provide efficient mobility.This book shows what can be done and how. Its scale is global, with a special focus on the needs and opportunities in India.
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175
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Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060 - Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Abstract in English: 
This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.
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214
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What if....? Scanning the horizon: 12 scenarios for 2021

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Friday, January 25, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Foresight is about choice, decision and action – and not, as is repeated time and again, predicting the future and getting it wrong.
This Chaillot Paper aims to alert decision-makers to potential developments with significant strategic impact while they can still prepare for, or even avoid them. This is done using two methods combined: horizon-scanning as well as single scenario-building. Taken together, they produce plausible events set in 2021 – with strategic ramifications well beyond that. All 12 scenarios in this Chaillot Paper reflect the expertise and imagination of the researchers who wrote them: some explore potential conflicts, while others look at disruptive political developments, or indeed at crises with significant ramifications.
That said, all are designed in the hope of drawing attention to foreign and security policy aspects which are potentially overlooked, and all are extrapolated from ongoing and recent developments.
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74
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Trends Shaping Education 2019

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, January 21, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Did you ever wonder whether education has a role to play in preparing our societies for an age of artificial intelligence? Or what the impact of climate change might be on our schools, families and communities?
Trends Shaping Education examines major economic, political, social and technological trends affecting education. While the trends are robust, the questions raised in this book are suggestive, and aim to inform strategic thinking and stimulate reflection on the challenges facing education – and on how and whether education can influence these trends.
This book covers a rich array of topics related to globalisation, democracy, security, ageing and modern cultures. The content for this 2019 edition has been updated and also expanded with a wide range of new indicators. Along with the trends and their relationship to education, the book includes a new section on future’s thinking inspired by foresight methodologies.
This book is designed to give policy makers, researchers, educational leaders, administrators and teachers a robust, non specialist source of international comparative trends shaping education, whether in schools, universities or in programmes for older adults. It will also be of interest to students and the wider public, including parents.
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109
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Rebalancing the Euro Area: A proposal for Future Reform

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
Under a monetary union, fiscal and monetary discipline have to go hand in hand if macroeconomic stability is to be maintained. The question is how to set up the right institutions to achieve this stability in a credible manner. This policy brief proposes a new institutional arrangement for the euro area to restore fiscal discipline. It places the responsibility for compliance entirely on the shoulders of the member states. It also provides for the mutualisation of 30% of the member states’ debt-to-GDP ratio.
This would help to maintain a stable currency and to limit the risk of contagion should another crisis occur in the future. However, this comes at a cost. Under the fiscal scheme proposed, member states, which would be fully fiscally sovereign, would need to run long-term sound fiscal policies to benefit from euro membership.
In addition, this brief proposes a reform of Target2 under which overspending economies would have to pay the financial cost of accessing extra euros, which would deter the accumulation of internal imbalances within the euro area. All this is expected to change the current fragility of the architecture of the euro, provide member states with the right incentives to abide by sounder economic principles and make them fully responsible for the policies they adopt.
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20
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25 Years of Spitzenkandidaten: What Does the Future Hold?

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018
Abstract in English: 
This paper critically reflects on the development and implications of the Spitzenkandidaten system. It makes three claims. First, it argues that, despite the assertions of many commentators, this system did not appear out of the blue in 2014 but has a much longer history. Since the Maastricht Treaty, a series of steps have been taken that have clearly led the way to this outcome and, in fact, may even lead beyond it. These steps, including the role of the European People’s Party, are explained here as they cast a different light on the whole process, without which the success of the Spitzenkandidaten system cannot be properly understood.
Second, the paper claims that, from a political–institutional point of view, the system implicitly promotes the parliamentarisation of the EU architecture and might eventually lead to a stronger EU executive and a weaker European Parliament, as is the case in most national parliamentary systems. This would be the opposite of what many of its supporters would like to see. Third, the paper concludes that, in order to avoid this unintended consequence and fulfil the democratic potential of the Spitzenkandidaten system, the current procedure must be understood as an intermediate step on the road to the direct election of the president of the EU. This, however, requires its success and consolidation in 2019. The paper thus ends with some recommendations that will help to make this happen.
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16
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Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India 2019 - TOWARDS SMART URBAN TRANSPORTATION

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Abstract in English: 
The Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India is a bi-annual publication on regional economic growth, development and regional integration in Emerging Asia. It focuses on the economic conditions of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. It also addresses relevant economic issues in China and India to fully reflect economic developments in the region.
The Outlook comprises four main parts, each highlighting a particular dimension of recent economic developments in the region. The first part presents the regional economic monitor, depicting the economic outlook and macroeconomic challenges in the region. The second part consists of a special thematic chapter addressing a major issue facing the region. The 2019 edition of the Outlook looks at smart cities, with a special focus on transportation. Addressing traffic congestion, in particular, is critical in realising the potential benefits of urbanisation for growth. The third part of the report includes structural country notes offering specific recommendations for each country, and the fourth part discusses the recent progress made in key aspects of regional integration.
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279
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