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European Futures

Five Possible Scenarios for 2010

Gilles Bertrand, Anna Michalski and Lucio R. Pench

This book is an innovative and highly original exercise in scenario building, the aim of which is to investigate the future of Europe. The scenarios investigated by the authors include ‘triumphant markets’, ‘turbulent neighbourhoods’, ‘the hundred flowers’, ‘shared responsibilities’ and ‘creative societies’. These are five coherent and thought-provoking images of Europe in 2010. Rather than present a definitive picture of the future of Europe, the authors highlight the range of possible futures, and the factors and actors that are likely to shape them. Written in a narrative style, the scenarios are grounded in a rigorous analysis of the main trends affecting Europe’s future, including demography, technology, globalisation and post-modernity.
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Chapter 6: What We Know About the Future

Gilles Bertrand, Anna Michalski and Lucio R. Pench


The scenarios take into account in an implicit fashion a number of deep-seated trends affecting Europe’s present and future. For those deemed to be the most significant, the Forward Studies Unit undertook a specific analysis, the results of which are presented below. The trends differ as to the degree of certainty that can be attached to each of them. For instance, the demographic trends are ‘set’, in the sense that a change in the projected age structure of the European population would take at least two generations to materialize. The trend of globalization is considered fairly stable in the time frame of the scenarios, but a major politico-economic shock might alter or even reverse its course, and the weight of the different elements driving it may evolve. Other trends, like the emergence of new security threats, are of a different nature in the sense that they are mainly driven by man-made events, taking place at a precise moment in time, and can therefore be more easily influenced by political decisions. DEMOGRAPHY (EUROPE) Regardless of the scenario that one adopts, when it comes to demographic trends the direction of change is clearly foreseeable. Like the other parts of the industrial world, Europe is ageing. This is not an entirely new trend: the population of industrial countries has been growing older for the best part of the last 150 years, due to the decline in fertility and mortality. However, as life expectancy has risen to unprecedented high levels (as much as 80...

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