European Commission, 2011

The Global Europe 2050 scenarios have been shaped with a view to combine the global perspective (notably including future dynamics and trends that are mainly out of the reach of EU policies) with a specific focus on the future of European integration. In the focus of these scenarios the potential impacts of EU policies in such diverse areas as governance and geopolitics, economic and technological growth stimulation, the use of land and of other increasingly scarce natural resources and, most importantly, research, innovation and education are devised and assessed.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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