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2021 Strategic Foresight Report

Key global megatrends that will impact the EU in the future

The 2021 Strategic Foresight Report focuses on key global megatrends that will continue to affect the EU in the coming decades: from climate change, technological acceleration and digitalisation, to major economic, geopolitical and demographic shifts.

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Climate change and other environmental challenges: Global warming will probably surpass 1.5℃ in the next 20 years and head towards 2℃ by mid‑century, worsening the pressure on water and food safety worldwide. By 2050, 200 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance partly due to ecological effects.

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Digital hyperconnectivity and technological transformations: The number of connected devices globally might increase from 30.4 billion in 2020 to 200 billion in 2030. Increased connectivity of objects, places and people will result in new products, services, business models, and life and work patterns. Europe’s global leadership ambition in the twin transitions could position it strongly in an emerging lucrative market and create new types of work, for example green jobs, in both established and emerging sectors. 

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Pressure on democracy and values: As of 2020, 34% of the world’s population was living in countries where democratic governance was declining and only 4% in countries that were becoming more democratic. Large-scale misinformation, powered by new tools and online platforms, will pose increasing challenges to democratic systems and drive a new type of information warfare.
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Shifts in the global order and demography: The world is becoming increasingly multipolar. China is set to become the biggest economy before the end of this decade, with India possibly surpassing the EU in the next 20 years The world’s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050, while the EU’s is expected to fall by 5%, to just over 420 million by 2050

All these change will affect the EU’s freedom and capacity to act and require efficient and coherent policy action.

10 strategic areas to strengthen the EU’s global leadership

10 Strategic areas

The 2021 Strategic Foresight Report aims to set the stage for well-designed and future-proof policies and engagements, to put the EU in the best position to achieve its long-term policy objectives and play a strategic role in a multipolar and contested global order. It underlines the importance of joined up internal and external policies and calls for a comprehensive approach.

The EU will continue to leverage its close international partnerships to promote peace, stability and prosperity, present a united front against hostile actors and common challenges, and uphold the promise of progress. It will strengthen mutually beneficial relations with its neighbours and more distant partners. It will take the lead in effective multilateral cooperation, while protecting EU citizens and the economy from unfair and abusive practices.

The 10 areas have been identified thanks to the foresight process as strategic ones in order to ensure the EU’s freedom and capacity to act in the decades to come:

  1. Ensuring sustainable and resilient health and food systems
  2. Securing decarbonised and affordable energy
  3. Strengthening capacity in data management, artificial intelligence and cutting edge technologies
  4. Securing and diversifying supply of critical raw materials
  5. Ensuring first-mover global position in standard-setting
  6. Building a resilience and future-proof economics and financial systems
  7. Developing and retaining skills and talent matching EU ambitions
  8. Strengthening security and defence capacities and access to space
  9. Working with global partners to promote peace, security and prosperity for all
  10. Strengthening the resilience of institutions


Strategic Foresight Report - 2021

Strategic Foresight Report – 2021 - reader friendly version