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European Union

European Union

Protecting Europe: The EU’s response to hybrid threats

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The EU takes hybrid threats seriously and has designed an array of policies to counter them. Its main focus is the ongoing crises beyond its borders, throughout its eastern and southern neighbourhoods. In Ukraine and elsewhere, the EU is trying to counter hostile Russian actions. But its countermeasures are focused inwards too as its own member states come under attack. These measures are helping more generally to ‘future-proof’ the EU tself, to shore up its own internal structures and networks in the face of a rapidly shifting international landscape.They are helping Europe respond to powers such as China and the use of new technologies such as 5G. These countermeasures now cover everything from the European digital economy to its cyber, maritime, space and energy domains. But they play a particularly important role in three sectors, namely the security of EU borders, its critical infrastructure and the information environment. These three fields constitute quite literally the nuts and bolts of the European Union. Protecting them means defending the very cornerstones of the EU – the three fields are vital to the continued integration of the European economy and to the health of the democratic institutions underpinning it. Predictably, they are the subject of our in-depth case studies.
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Healthy boundaries: remedies for Europe’s cross-border disorder

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The migration crisis that engulfed Europe in 2015 highlighted the EU’s vulnerability when faced with major instability and disruption at its borders. Although the Union has internal and external security arms – comprising the ten home affairs agencies that underpin its Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), on the one hand, and the international missions undertaken under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) on the other – it still struggles to deploy these instruments effectively. This Chaillot Paper examines how the EU, bearing in mind its evolution as a multinational bureaucratic organisation rather than a traditional state actor, can successfully develop meaningful security capabilities. It explores possible new formats for AFSJ-CSDP cooperation, outlining four options for joint deployment: ‘demar­cated’, ‘sequential’, ‘modular’ and ‘integrat­ed’. Stressing the importance of a clear-eyed diagnosis of the changes underway in the global security environment, the paper explores how these four joint security formats might be adapted to address crises with maximum effect.
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The Future of Work OECD Employment Outlook 2019

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, July 1, 2019
Abstract in English: 
The world of work is changing in response to technological progress, globalisation and ageing populations. In addition, new organisational business models and evolving worker preferences are contributing to the emergence of new forms of work. Despite widespread anxiety about potential job destruction driven by technological change and globalisation, a sharp decline in overall employment seems unlikely. While certain jobs and tasks are disappearing, others are emerging and employment has been growing. As these transformations occur, a key challenge lies in managing the transition of workers in declining industries and regions towards new job opportunities. There are also concerns about job quality. While diversity in employment contracts can provide welcome flexibility for many firms and workers, important challenges remain in ensuring the quality of non-standard work. Moreover, labour market disparities could increase further unless determined policy action is taken to ensure a more equal sharing of the costs of structural adjustment in the world of work. While there are risks, there are also many opportunities – and the future of work is not set in stone. With the right policies and institutions, the future of work can be one of more and better jobs for all.
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OECD Sovereign Borrowing Outlook 2019

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Abstract in English: 
More than a decade on from the Global Financial Crisis, while debt-to-GDP ratios are back around pre-crisis levels in some countries, debt burdens have continued to climb in others, exceeding 100% of GDP in some cases. The challenges sovereign debt managers are confronting in an environment of high debt burdens and relatively tighter financial conditions have been compounded by recent political uncertainties. OECD governments will also need to refinance around 40% of their outstanding marketable debt over the next three years. This means that most countries are focused on mitigating refinancing risk, maintaining flexibility in funding programmes, and broadening the investor base. In countries where financing requirements are limited and declining, sovereign debt managers face a “positive” set of challenges. For example, the minimal optimal size of outstanding sovereign debt required to maintain a vibrant government bond market and facilitate the implementation of monetary policy is currently under discussion in a few countries.
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OECD‑FAO Agricultural Outlook 2019‑2028

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Monday, July 8, 2019
Abstract in English: 
Global agriculture has evolved into a highly diverse sector, with operations that range from small subsistence farms to large multinational holdings. Farmers’ products are sold fresh in local markets, but also across the world through sophisticated and modern value chains. Beyond their traditional role of providing humankind with food, farmers are important custodians of the natural environment and have become producers of renewable energy. In order to meet the high expectations society places on agriculture, public and private decision makers require reliable information on the likely trends of global demand, supply, trade and prices and the factors driving them. To this end, the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook is an annual reference that provides a comprehensive medium-term baseline scenario for agricultural commodity markets at national, regional and global levels. In addition to providing a plausible baseline scenario for agriculture markets in the coming decade, the Outlook identifies a widening set of risks to agricultural markets that can help policy makers better anticipate and manage them.These include the spread of plant and animal diseases and the growing risk of extreme climatic events, as well as possible supply disruptions from growing trade tensions. This OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2019-2028 foresees that the demand for agricultural products will grow by 15% over the coming decade.
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326
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OECD Economic Outlook

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Abstract in English: 
A year ago, the OECD warned about how trade and policy uncertainties could significantly damage the world economy and further contribute to the growing divide between people. A year later, global momentum has weakened markedly and growth is set to remain subpar as trade tensions persist. Trade and investment have slowed sharply, especially in Europe and Asia. Business and consumer confidence have faltered, with manufacturing production contracting. In response, financial conditions have eased as central banks have moved towards more accommodative monetary stances, while fiscal policy has been providing stimulus in a handful of countries. At the same time, low unemployment and a slight pickup in wages in the major economies continue to support household incomes and consumption. Overall, however, trade tensions are taking a toll and global growth is projected to slow to only 3.2% this year before edging up to 3.4% in 2020, well below the growth rates seen over the past three decades, or even in 2017-18. While growth was synchronised eighteen months ago, divergence has emerged between sectors and countries depending on their exposure to trade tensions, the strength of fiscal responses and policy uncertainties. The manufacturing sector, where global value chains prevail, has been hit hard by tariffs and the associated uncertainty on the future of trade relationships, and is likely to stay weak. Business investment growth, also strongly linked to trade, is set to slow to a mere 1¾ per cent per year over 2019-20, from around 3½ per cent per year during 2017-18. However, services, less subject to trade jitters and where most job creation takes place, continue to hold up well. In parallel, growth has weakened in most advanced economies, especially those where trade and manufacturing play an important role, such as Germany and Japan, with GDP growth projected to be below 1% in both countries this year. In contrast, the United States has maintained its momentum thanks to sizeable, albeit waning, fiscal support. Divergence is also visible among emerging-market economies, with Argentina and Turkey struggling to recover from recession, while India and others are benefitting from easier financial conditions and in some instances fiscal or quasi-fiscal support.
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Preparing for a more united, stronger and more democratic Union in an increasingly uncertain world

Date of Editorial Board meeting: 
Publication date: 
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Abstract in English: 
On 9 May 2019, EU leaders will meet in Sibiu, Romania, to reflect on our Union’s political aspirations and prepare the ‘strategic agenda’ for the next five years. They will do so on the eve of the European Parliament elections where more than 400 million Europeans will take to the polls in the world’s largest transnational democratic exercise. They will do so thirty years after the end of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall and fifteen years after the unprecedented enlargement of our Union, which overcame our continent’s painful division.
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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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