European Union in the World 2025: Scenarios for EU relations with its neighbours and strategic partners
Who would have thought a decade ago that not only the European Union but also its neighbourhood both in the East and in the South would have been turned upside down due to a series of crises? Back in 2006 the EU had gone through a successful ‘big bang’ enlargement absorbing ten Central and Eastern European countries and was about to take two more states on board. The economy was doing well, ideas for establishing a ‘ring of friends’ in the immediate neighbourhood were flowering and Russia was seen as a close partner. Yet things have gone differently than might have expected. The financial crisis, the Arab Spring and its consequences, the Russian annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine, the development of ISIS, the war in Syria and the growing number of refugees and migrants from North Africa and the Middle East are challenges the European Union has been facing in recent years.
Although predictions of the end of the European project seem to be premature, it has become obvious that the EU is in a serious crisis, both as an idea and as an organisation and international actor. Therefore simply reacting to crises is no longer an option. The EU desperately needs to think and act strategically if it wants to survive and to have any influence on the global stage.
Above all, it needs to define its future-oriented interests and how these interests can be reconciled with values that the EU attempts to project and protect. Against this backdrop, the Dahrendorf Forum – Debating Europe initiated a foresight project which aimed to set out different scenarios for the future relationship between the European Union and the five countries/regions of the Dahrendorf Forum: Ukraine and Russia, Turkey, MENA, United States and China.
The alternative futures engage in defining the most likely trajectories, downside risks, new trends and ‘unknown unknowns’. By reflecting the forward-looking challenges, the Dahrendorf Foresight Project tries to assess the EU’s role in the world in 2025.
ORBIS is powered by ESPAS, the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System, a unique inter-institutional project aimed at strengthening the EU's efforts in the crucial area of forward planning. ESPAS brings together the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat General of the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service to strengthen the Union's collective administrative capacity to identify and analyse the key trends and challenges, and the resulting policy choices, which are likely to confront Europe and the wider world in the decades ahead.