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What are the most significant long-term external trends that will affect the role of the EU in 2020 to 2050?

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The shape of the world to come in a few decades.
    1. General trends and internal challenges.
    2. Changes in the international system.
    3. A turbulent neighbourhood.
  3. The consequences for the EU: An important player in the future international order.
    1. A major economic partner which needs to adapt in the context of globalisation.
    2. An important shaper of the international order.
    3. Could Europe become a superpower? Will it run the 21st century?
  4. Conclusion.
  5. Bibliography.

By 2025, Europe will represent only 6% of the world population, and its relative share of global wealth and trade will have shrunk. Contentious economic and welfare reforms as well as the integration of a growing migrant population will be among the key internal challenges for many EU Member States. Based on current trends, the EU may also be surrounded by an increasingly turbulent neighborhood, from Russia to the Mediterranean and Africa. The ongoing debate on the future of Europe suffers from a lack of perspective on the global developments that are changing the context of European integration itself. Too often European integration is regarded as a regular process, advancing or stalling, depending on endogenous or intra-European variables only. Absorbed in endless debates on the reform of their political, economic and social structures, there is a risk that the EU and its member states may loose sight on the momentous developments taking place beyond their borders, yet affecting their own future. While Europe ponders its own future, the future of the world is in the making. The risk is that the Union and its Member States will be increasingly subject to, rather than actors of, change.

[...] However in several areas current trends indicate that the EU might have difficulties maintaining its status (population ageing, industries offshore generating values outside the EU, competition in technologic areas, insecurity faced with globalisation, fear of European integration We can mention these internal challenges very briefly: - The need to renegotiate the social contract i.e., the entitlement programs of the social welfare state hammered out in the post-1945 period. This is not a choice but a necessity: a large, aging population sits atop a shrinking labor pool and declining birth rates, unemployment remains chronic - The need to take effective decisions in a wider EU, an effective instrument of policy deliberation and execution Decisions taken by the European Monetary Authority will carry more weight than national policies in Berlin or Paris. [...]

[...] The international political system will present two main features: Second the consolidation of regional multilateral frameworks of which the EU will continue to represent the most advanced example third the potential proliferation of weak states, which might fail to prevent disorder from spilling over their borders A turbulent neighbourhood The EU is surrounded by regions with a high potential of problems and tensions. By 2030 the political, economic and security outlook at the borders of the Union is likely to have deteriorated considerably even if catastrophic shocks do not occur. [...]

[...] In a world that moves so fast the EU needs to adapt - but needs to adapt to new partners, new technologies, to stay in competition The greatest benefits of globalization will accrue to countries and groups that can access and adopt new technologies. Europe risks slipping behind Asia in nanotechnologies for example. - For Europe, an increasing preference for natural gas may reinforce regional relationships?such as with Russia or North Africa?given the interdependence of pipeline delivery. - will have to deal with migrations The EU policies on migration will be linked increasingly to those of its partners, and will require close cooperation with source countries An important shaper of the international order - leading global governance and fighting against poverty To tackle the world's big issues, the international community will need to reduce conflict, improve governance (accountable governments), make globalisation work for the poor (improve capacity to trade) and provide new resources for development. [...]

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