GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

Global Trends to 2030: Challenges and Choices for Europe


The next decade will be defining for the future of Europe and Europe’s role in the world. Seismic global power shifts; pressure on liberal democracies; challenges to global governance; the transformation of economic models and the very fabric of societies; new uses and misuses of technology; contrasting demographic patterns; and humanity’s growing ecological footprint – the world is well on its way towards a new geopolitical, geo-economic and geotechnological order. What role will Europe play in this fast-changing world? How can the European Union ensure that it does not end up a middle power, caught between the United States and China? What will it take for Europe to hold its destiny in its own hands in 2030?

Against this backdrop, the ESPAS Global Trends to 2030: Challenges and Choices for Europe report is a contribution to support policy- and decision-makers as they navigate the world into 2030. We may not be able to provide a linear, predetermined chart – from port of departure to port of arrival. But what we can do is extrapolate insights from current global trends; explore some of the key uncertainties that will shape Europe’s future; and better anticipate some of the choices and decisions that might confront us in the coming decade.

Without purporting to be all-encompassing, this report seeks to pull together available evidence for what one may well call a European reality-check. Europe is a key global player in many areas, but the world is no longer Eurocentric – nor will it be so in the future. Europeans will be fewer, older, and relatively poorer while much of the rest of the world is rising. Even if European Union Member States pool more resources together, Europe will remain outspent on security and defence. And as global power is being redefined by rapid technological progress, Europeans lag behind China and the United States on emerging technologies and innovations – from Artificial Intelligence to quantum computing.