Empowering Europe’s Future: Governance, Power and Options for the EU in a Changing World

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.

Click here to download the executive summary of the report.


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Global governance reform. Multilateralism. EU security and defence policy. EU institutional reform.
Strategic affairs. Geo-politics. EU security & defence policy. NATO. Counter-terrorism. Defence industry.

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

FRIDE ceased its think tank activities on 31st December 2015 for economic reasons. The Board of Trustees had to take this difficult decision since, despite many efforts to diversify its funding sources, FRIDE cannot sustain its think tank operations with a view to 2016 and beyond.

Established in 1999, FRIDE has made a major contribution to shape debate on Europe’s external activities in an increasingly challenging international environment. It has covered issues ranging from democracy and human rights to sustainable development, new approaches to multilateral cooperation and security affairs. FRIDE’s long-standing focus on the extended neighbourhood of the European Union proves today all the more relevant given widespread turbulence in the region. FRIDE’s emphasis on the importance of the values framing Europe’s external activities is central to current political debates in Europe and beyond. This shows the need for continued engagement in the pursuit of a common European foreign policy that is both effective and informed by the core values of European integration.

The Board wishes to thank Diego Hidalgo, FRIDE’s founder, for his tireless commitment and very generous support for many years. The Board also wishes to thank FRIDE’s dedicated staff, the members of the Board and the Advisory Committee for their contribution in making FRIDE one of the top foreign policy think tanks in Europe. We are very grateful to all those who have supported FRIDE’s work and projects over the years and we thank the many partners from all parts of the world who have worked with FRIDE on joint initiatives. We hope that FRIDE’s extensive input to the debate on Europe in the world will continue to inform thinking and action at a very critical time for Europe’s future.

The President of the Board

FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.

Establecido en 1999, FRIDE ha realizado una gran contribución al debate sobre las actividades exteriores de Europa en un ambiente internacional cada vez más complejo. Ha trabajado en temas que van desde la democracia y los derechos humanos al desarrollo sostenible, los nuevos enfoques en la cooperación multilateral y las cuestiones de seguridad. La atención prestada por FRIDE a la vecindad extendida de la Unión Europea durante mucho tiempo prueba ser hoy aún más relevante debido a la turbulencia que azota a la región. El énfasis de FRIDE en la importancia de los valores que enmarcan las actividades exteriores europeas es central en los debates en Europa y más allá. Esto muestra la necesidad de un compromiso continuo con la búsqueda de una política exterior europea común que sea eficaz y esté basada en los principios fundamentales de la integración europea.

El Patronato desea agradecer a Diego Hidalgo, fundador de FRIDE, por su incansable compromiso y muy generoso apoyo a lo largo de tantos años. También quiere expresar su gratitud a la dedicada plantilla, a los propios miembros del Patronato y del Comité Asesor por sus contribuciones para hacer de FRIDE uno de los principales think tanks de Europa en cuestiones de política exterior. Estamos muy agradecidos con todos aquellos que han apoyado el trabajo y los proyectos de FRIDE a través de los años y también damos las gracias a los numerosos socios de todas partes del mundo que han colaborado con FRIDE en iniciativas conjuntas. Esperamos que las extensas aportaciones de FRIDE al debate sobre Europa en el mundo continuará informando el pensamiento y la acción en un momento muy crítico para el futuro de Europa.

El Presidente del Patronato

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