VERA – Forward Visions on the European Research Area

VERA is funded by the European Union's FP7 programme for research,
technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 290705

Global/Europe 2030-2050

Code: B06

Primary project information

Lead: Expert group: Effie AMANATIDOU, Daniele ARCHIBUGI, Dragana AVRAMOV, Henri BOGAERT, Anette BRAUN, Maciej BUKOWSKI, João CARAÇA, Ged DAVIS, Jaap de ZWAAN, Lionel FONTAGNE, Nicole GNESOTTO, Joyeeta GUPTA, Helena HELVE, Nicolaas Sieds KLAZINGA, Heli KOSKI, Ana MORATO MURILLO, Geoff MULGAN, Andrea RICCI, Tomas RIES, Ingo ROLLWAGEN, Carlo SESSA, Luc SOETE, Kalheinz STEINMULLER, Leopold SUMMERER, Philine WARNKE.
Type of activity: executive summary of expert groups work
Date conducted: N/A
Date of Publication: October 2011
Duration: N/A
Summary: Forward-looking exercises are not set out to forecast or predict the future, especially with such a long-term perspective as adopted here, but rather to provide images of possible futures that can stimulate and inspire policy and decision makers, and society at large. Such visions of the future should not be constrained by mainstream, conventional thinking, hence the above reference to the daring dimension of the study. On the other hand, to effectively serve the objective of influencing policy and decision making, the proposed visions of the future should be credible, and build upon past and present knowledge, hence the reference to realism.
The report is the result of a highly participatory approach to scenario building that seeks to optimally combine visionary thinking with plausibility: it was generated by an iterative process of interaction and debate among a group of experts representing a considerable variety of disciplinary expertise/specializations. To make the most of the individual and collective expertise of the group, a full bottom-up process was adopted, with the experts contributing freely to both the overall selection, framing and shaping of the scenarios, and to their detailed representation. While such a “free-mode” approach led to an unconstrained and unconventional representation of possible long term futures, the complementarities within the group and the extensive debate that took place ensured that the basic requirements associated with scenario building (like plausibility, internal consistency) were ultimately met. The methodology adopted for building scenarios combines and integrates a qualitative and a quantitative component.
An extensive narrative is provided for each of the scenarios, along a common format that deals in sequence with six main dimensions of the future:
- Global demographic and societal challenges;
- Energy and natural resource security and efficiency, environment and climate change;
- Economy and technology prospects;
- Geopolitics and governance: EU frontiers, integration and role on the global scale;
- Territorial and mobility dynamics; Research, education and innovation.
The six dimensions are illustrated, for each scenario, in increasing order of sensitivity to policy decisions, starting with demographic trends - already largely in the cards, and therefore considered as exogenous – and concluding with the future of research and innovation, which remains to be shaped by appropriately inspired policies.
Financed by: European Commission - Social sciences and humanities
Budget: N/A
Research area/market/industry/sector: FLA, social sciences,policy, energy,
Main report (full title): Global Europe 2050 - Executive summary (in addition in grand challenges : State of the art of international Forward Looking Activities beyond 2030 by Anette Braun DG Research with the input from expert group)


Economic Challenges: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: acceleration globalisation, Asia-led global growth and trade, economic consequences of ageing, European youth not on the move, A still vital European industry (p.7). Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe":a declining labor input, human capital circulation, a declining infrastructure investment (p.9) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": a new global financial stability, new opportunities for the EU industry and emplyment trends, tackling the challenges of knowledge economy, new forms of value creation activities, smart investment in global and local infrastructures. (p.11-13). State of the art report: economic developments/distribution of scarce resources;energy consumption; oil shortage; water shortage; food shortage;
Economic Challenges Shortlist: accelerated globalisation; Asia-led global growth and trade; Economic consequences of demographic change; EU under threat though declining labour input, human capital circulation, and declining infrastructure investment; New global financial stability; New opportunities for EU industry; New forms of value creation activities; Smart investment in global and local infrastructures; Oil shortages; Water shortages; Food shortages
Geopolitical Challenges: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: redistribution of global power, change of military power balance, challnged role of EU on the global stage.(p.7-8) Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": EU fortress, Global insecurity, a widening governance gap (p.9-10) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": towards the political European Union, global security, EU leadership on the global stage. (p.13). State of the art report: global crises in democracy in society; religion and ideology; redistribution of global power; emergence of BRIC and E7;competition and cooperation among conventionla powers; EU security issues.
Geopolitical Challenges Shortlist: Redistribution of global power; Change of military power balance; Challenged role of EU on the global stage; Europe as closed off 'fortress' to immigration; EU development toward a political union; EU leadership on the global stage; Emergence of BRICS countries
Societal Challenges: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: population ageing, immigration.(p.6) Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": a shrinking population in Europe, a declining social capital, (p.8) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": preserving the standard of living, active aging, an open european society.(p.10-11). State of the art report: globalisation and its impact; multi-ethnic society; migration flows; the city as the standard human habitat; poverty; demography and its impact; aging, rising age-related public spending; labour market, empolyement and brain drain; chamging role of families;
Societal Challenges Shortlist: Ageing European population; Shrinking European population; Declining social capital in Europe; Maintenance of standard of living by further European integration; Rising age related public spending; Brain drain from European countries
Technical Challenges: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: a challenging transition to digital Europe.Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": the continuing ICT revolution, new developments in energy technologies, key enabling technologies. (p.12-13). State of the art report: new developments in technology; modern weapons technology; space: extending the current economic frontier; bioeconomy
Technical Challenges Shortlist: A challenging transition to digital Europe; A continuing ICT revolution; New developments in energy technologies and key enabling technologies; Modern weapons technology; Extending the current economic frontier into space
Mobility Challenges: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: global urbanisation. Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": increasingly vulnerable and unsustainable cities. (p.10) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": A polycentric europe, smart and sustainable mobility. (p.14)
Mobility Challenges Shortlist: -Global urbanisation
-Increasingly vulnerable and unsustainable cities
-A polycentric Europe
-Smart and sustainable mobility

Summary of relevant aspects

Aspects of ERA Governance: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: In the “Nobody cares” scenario, the innovation system thinking and education and coordination capabilities at EU level fail to emerge, leaving the whole Europe in an unfavourable competitive innovation position as compared to other regions of the world, and especially to emergent economies.The ERA has not fully been realised although significant improvements are evident. While the fifth freedom (free circulation of knowledge) is possible there are still institutions, legislations and rules which are MS-specific and not harmonised thus hindering circulation of research, cross-border funding of research. (p.8) Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": The ERA concept is long forgotten as it has not materialised and the lack of trust in science has grown considerably. Trans-national research agendas exist in some cases where nations share the same interests but they are mainly driven by industry with profit-making motives. (p.10) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": The ERA has accelerated to more than what it aspired to be in 2015. It's fully realised and even more, there are uniform rules and regulations in setting research agendas taking into account societies concerns and interests with societal organisations fully engaged in research policy-making alongside the research community and businesses. A lot of research is also done in the virtual world not requiring large amounts of money and also based on concepts like the peer production, the shared economy, etc. (p.14)
Aspects of RTI Governance: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: Although some improvement has been made there is still duplication of research and fragmentation across regions and countries with significant resources being wasted. At the national level the situation remains that the research world is separate from businesses and that the businesses still do their major projects in house although using largely approaches like open-innovation.(p.8) Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": Most of research governance is fragmented within national borders even more than in the 2010s. Earlier steps taken towards research governance and coordination at the supra-national level have been withdrawn due to overall crisis (e.g. financial but may also be public outcry with various S&T risks materialising from new advancements). This crisis towards science not only downsized research to a large extent but it has also put it behind national borders. Grand challenges are not a theme of common interest anymore but a topic addressed by individual nations as they see fit for their own interests and stakes. (p.10) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": National interests are tackled within national programmes focusing on specific strengths and weaknesses but taking into account the overall international strategies which are primarily devoted to tackling global problems like hunger, poverty, regional inequalities, energy shortages, etc. All countries have the international dimension in their national research policies to facilitate participation in trans-national and international activities. (p.14)
Other Aspects of Governance: Scenario "Nobody cares:standstill in European integration: The public sector agencies of different EU countries collect and diffuse data in a fragmented manner and pricing practices for PSI sectors vary among countries. In many cases, data is difficult to access and expensive. Some public sector agencies use IPR protection for restricting the re-use of data.
(p.8) Scenario "EU under threats: fragmented Europe": The public sector agencies of EU countries protect IPRs of their data by various education and means (e.g. copyright, database protection) and sell it with market prices, often competing with private sector innovation parties. The public sector information concerning the actions of governments is increasingly stored for internal information systems only. (p.10) Scenario "EU renaissance: further european integration": filling the governance gap (p. 13), public sector information: the government data is opened up for public use in EU (p. 14).
Background information: Global Europe 2030-2050 is an expert group under EU Commission. The objective of this group is to conduct both quantitative and qualitative analyses in terms of well-grounded connections between challenges and visions and options for action on which policies can be built in the years to come. This is to be done through the elaboration and exploration of the main drivers that may affect or impact the world and Europe by 2030/2050, thus integrating the long-term dimension in the policy preparation. At the moment there exists 3 publications: Global Europe 2050 - Report summary , State of the art of international Forward Looking Activities beyond 2030 and Inventory of Forward Looking Studies with a focus beyond 2030.


Scenario 1: Nobody cares: standstill in European integration. In this scenario, Europe is seen in a process of prolonged “muddling through” in the absence of guiding and visionary actors and the lack of a redesigned policy framework. Thus, economic growth remains low in Europe. The divergence between the EU and the leading world economies - USA in the short-medium term, but also China in the longer term - widens, as the latter keep a strong developmental pace (the implicit assumption is therefore a better future trajectory for the rest of the world). The challenges posed by the ageing phenomenon in Europe are not decisively addressed, leading to economic instability. The completion of the European market remains unachieved. There is limited public support to address climate change and other global challenges, leading among others to an increased dependence on the foreign supply of energy.
Scenario 2: EU under threats: a fragmented Europe. This scenario under threat envisages a global economic decline, with protectionist reactions, the subsequent increase in transaction costs and increasingly congested infrastructures. A range of serious geopolitical risks emerge including possible low-intensity conflicts - civil wars, nuclear conflicts and the radicalization of governments in advanced democracies. The EU heads towards disintegration, triggered by the possible withdrawal of one or more leading Member States and the emergence of two or more speeds of development and integration within the Union. Climate change and its implications are not addressed. Food and oil shocks materialize. Major energy supply disruptions and failures of the different European grid(s) system(s) are becoming more probable due to heavy underinvestment in the renovation of these. The failure of Europe to implement sound research policies leads to a reduction in the pace of innovation. Productivity gains diminish progressively until 2050 within the EU, also compared to the "Nobody cares" scenario. Unlike Europe, the rest of the world and especially the emerging markets reap their potentials to economic growth, so that the rest of the world continues to keep a relatively strong developmental pace.
Scenario 3: EU renaissance: further European integration. In this EU renaissance scenario (depicted as “ER” in the following) global security is achieved, with the generalized enforcement of human rights and the rule of law. The world undergoes a global democratization of power also as a consequence of increasingly active non-state actors, global public policy networks and the media. The EU is enlarged both east- and southwards, and political, fiscal and military integration is consolidated. There is strong public support toward challenging targets in e.g. climate change and energy efficiency. The all-continental integration of energy systems (with renovation and heavy re-investments) boosts the share of renewable energy. Innovation systems undergo major reforms to become increasingly systemic, with more user-integration, more easy-to-use technological systems and services, and more encompassing smart growth oriented technology and innovation policies. Importantly, the EU manages to optimally design its technological and research policies, to target the right domains and methods, and this leads to an acceleration in the pace of innovation and the productivity gains increase progressively until 2050 within the EU, compared to the Nobody cares scenario, the rest of the world keeping its own pace.
Who benefits from the actions taken?: N/A

Meta information

Time horizon: 2030-2050
Methods: scenario building, combination of qualitative and quantitative compnents,
Objectives: The main objective of the Global Europe 2030-2050 is to conduct both quantitative and qualitative analyses of FLA . It aims at providing well-grounded connections between challenges and visions as well as options for action on which policies can be built in the next decades. This long-term dimension helps to anticipate, predict, evaluate and project. It could inspire new policies, provide evidence for policy making to understand and shape the world of tomorrow.
The tasks of this Group of experts are firstly to review and build on existing European and international Forward Looking Activities relating to main changes and challenges that the world and Europe will have to face in the next thirty/forty years. Secondly, the group evaluates the underlying trends and tensions for the World and Europe up to 2030/2050 on the basis of a set of specific hypotheses as to establish a "business as usual" scenario. Thirdly, it aims at generating "alternative scenarios" of the World up to 2050 with intermediary steps at the end of each decade focusing on major potential transitions and disruptive factors ("Wild cards").
Finally, the experts highlight future European research priorities and European research governance that answer to the identified transitions and which would allow the EU to remain at the same time competitive and sustainable in the globalized environment.
Countries covered: Europe, India, China, US, Sub-Saharan, Brazil
ERA actors/stakeholders mentioned: Commission, member states,

Entry Details

Rapporteur: Jukka Hyvönen
Rapporteur's organization: VTT
Entry Date: 31.08.2012