By Barry Edwards



The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) is an inter-institutional EU project which has published a paper called’ Global Trends to 2030: Can the EU Meet the Challenges Ahead? As the title suggests it analyses every aspect of the EU and presents a detailed proposal for consideration by the main decision making organisations of the union as the basis for planning the next 15 years of progress.

The main principle behind the recommendations is that if the EU is going to compete effectively with the USA and Asia, especially China, it must improve the economic and political infrastructure to achieve that ambition. ESPAS believes the EU should speed up the establishment of the continent- wide market in all the main sectors, manufacturing, energy, communications and financial services if it is going to have any chance of meeting that challenge.

The paper is comprehensive and well-presented although it does have 82 pages, it is well worth reading the executive summary and conclusion which are both 5 pages long. If you click on the link below you can download the paper;

ESPAS is closely linked with ORBIS the Open Repository Base on International Strategic Studies which publishes papers on a wide range of subjects regularly.

To demonstrate the content of the ESPAS document, below are some extracts;

“The powerful forces governing the global transformation that started in the early 1990s are reshaping the world ever more strongly and rapidly. The world is becoming steadily more complex, more challenging and also more insecure.”

“Powerful forces of globalisation will continue to transform the world. Poor adaptation and fragmenting multilateralism are making it more difficult to forge collective approaches to resolving problems in a peaceful fashion, despite manifestly increasing interdependence.

The steady decline of Western power and the rise of competing Asian countries, China foremost, increase political tensions and conflicts in the Middle East and possibly in Asia, as well as a pos­sible major realignment around Russia, China and the Middle East. Together these factors could generate an atmosphere of insecurity and conflict reminiscent of pivotal moments in the early 20th century.”

As you can see from the short excerpts above the paper looks at all the possible implications that could affect the EU not just the development of the union itself. It is rare to read a paper that is so comprehensive and thought provoking; the world is becoming so interconnected that whatever happens elsewhere has a big impact on all regions which have to be taken into consideration when making plans for the future.

Currently, the three main world blocs, USA, EU and China will gradually be joined by Russia, Africa, ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) and South America as they develop and grow creating their own blocs to influence world events. It is clear that the world is forming into areas of power that must cooperate if there is to be universal progress and you cannot make plans for political and economic development without taking them into account.

The ESPAS paper discusses what those implications could be and suggests possible actions to be taken by the EU to play its role in world events. They advocate that this can only be achieved if the EU integrates much more closely which will certainly conflict with Eurosceptic movements around Europe and be very relevant to the forthcoming referendum in the UK.

I have never heard of ESPAS or ORBIT since coming across this paper this week but it certainly addresses many reasons why the EU project should continue which have not been discussed before. This paper is likely to make many people rethink their ideas about the EU and how it should progress over the next fifteen years.

That’s all for this week, more observations next week.