Tracing path for stronger Europe

The Commission’s first Strategic Foresight Report looks at 14 global megatrends, among them changing security paradigm

Photo: EU Maroš Šefčovič.

In its first ever Strategic Foresight Report, released on Wednesday, the Commission aims to identify emerging challenges and opportunities to better steer the Union’s key choices in the coronavirus reality and beyond using resilience as a “compass” for this journey.

In short, resilience is the aptitude to withstand and handle challenges and at the same time to go through transitions in a viable and fair fashion.

Commenting the report EC President Ursula von der Leyen stressed that in these turbulent and challenging times, political leaders have to look wide and far ahead to take informed, meaningful and courageous decisions for a swift recovery: “a recovery that is geared to the

green and digital transition”. She also underscored that the report shows the key importance of resilience for a strong and lasting recovery.

According to EC Vice-President in charge of interinstitutional relations and foresight, Maroš Šefčovič, the pandemic has not only thrown a sharp light on the vulnerabilities, “but has presented opportunities that the EU cannot afford to miss”. We cannot expect the future to become less disruptive – new trends and shocks will continue to affect our lives, he said adding that this first-ever Strategic Foresight Report “sets the scene for how we can make Europe more resilient – by boosting our open strategic autonomy and building a fairer, climate-neutral and digitally sovereign future”.

The EU executive explains that strategic foresight will inform major policy initiatives and be part of toolbox that the Commission uses in designing future-proof policies and legislation that serves both the current needs and longer-term aspirations of European citizens.

Presenting the grounds for using foresight in EU policy-making, this report also introduces a comprehensive concept of EU resilience.

EU resilience in social and economic, geopolitical, green, and digital dimensions is considered in view of the Recovery Plan for Europe and for each of them the report identifies the capacities, vulnerabilities and opportunities revealed by the coronavirus crisis to be tackled in the medium- to long-term.

Over many years, the Commission has using foresight but the new in the approach is the aim to embed it across all policy areas. The recent Communication on Critical Raw Materials is the first example of foresight line helping boost the EU’s open strategic autonomy. The pandemic crisis has revealed Europe’s overreliance on non-EU suppliers for critical raw materials and has highlighted how supply disruptions can affect industrial ecosystems and other productive sectors.

Foresight exercises will be systematically conducted for all major policy initiatives and published forward-looking, annual Strategic Foresight reports, analysing emerging trends and challenges to inform the policy- and decision-making.

For mainstreaming foresight the executive as well proposes supporting the development of capacities in EU and Member State administrations and the building a collaborative and inclusive foresight community with EU and international institutions and partners.

Future reports will inform the priorities of the annual State of the Union

addresses, subsequent Commission Work Programmes and multi-annual programming with objective to kindle strategic conversations on forward-looking European priorities. It also includes scenario-building exercises on the green, digital and fair transitions.

The EU’s vulnerabilities and resilience capacities are analysed in the light of relevant megatrends, long-term driving forces that will most likely have a significant influence on the future. The Commission’s Megatrends Hub identified 14 global megatrends, among them diversifying inequalities, increasing significance of migration, increasing influence of new governing systems, climate change and environmental degradation, changing nature of work, growing consumerism, changing security paradigm, diversification of education and learning.

Prototype resilience dashboards are given as an example of a way of monitoring resilience. They will be further developed and co-created in exploratory discussions with Member States and other key stakeholders.

The Commission Strategic Foresight Agenda, supporting overarching political priorities, will include ad-hoc foresight exercises to inform major initiatives planned in its Work Programme. Crosscutting issues identified as high impact such as open strategic autonomy, the future of green jobs and skills, and deepening the twinning of the green and digital transitions across all policies and strategies, will also be on the radar.

 

 

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