The European Commission, at the request of an EU inter-institutional task force, commissioned Chatham House and FRIDE to produce a report analysing trends in power and governance to 2030, carried out under strand 3 – Governance and Power – of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS).
The report - Empowering Europe's Future: Governance, Power and Options for the EU in a Changing World - shows that the world in 2030 will likely be a more fragile place due to the rise of economic interdependence, the diffusion of power, and the disruptive potential of resource insecurities, climate change and technological innovation. In this less predictable world, power shifts – measured in terms of economic output, scientific research, demography, and military spending – from the West to the rest will not be linear, not least due to the proliferation of domestic challenges in emerging economies. The risk may be that many governments become more introverted and less inclined to international engagement and compromise, as they cope with increasing turbulence at home.
Conversely, a faster-changing world will offer wide-ranging options and new opportunities to more actors – both state and non-state – who are flexible and quick enough to seize them. The growing number of actors will make international cooperation more difficult and less ordered. As power becomes more diffuse, it will also become more constrained, which will put a premium on the ability to partner and build political coalitions. The EU will face a major challenge in trying to both temper geopolitical tensions and advance a rules-based global order.
Current economic, demographic and military spending trends point to a downsizing of the EU’s relative weight in the international system by 2030. However, only the US and perhaps China will have combined resources comparable to those of the Union (if taken as one) on a 2030 horizon. The EU’s experience of managing rules-based integration uniquely positions it within a more interconnected and competitive global operating system. Managing a more congested and rapidly changing world implies developing new methods of political engagement. The EU may not evolve into a superpower in this emerging world, but by building on its strengths and experiences it could become a 'super-partner' for other countries and regions, as well as with its own member-states.
In the period 2014–19 there are four key areas where the EU could focus its partnering initiatives:
- Making global markets work.
- Securing clean and sustainable energy resources.
- Preventing conflict and supporting cooperative security.
- Becoming a science and technology powerhouse and fostering innovation.