Dahrendorf Foresight Project

Foresight II

“Enhancing Europe’s Global Deployment of Power: Eight Proposals”

In 2019, the second foresight project “Enhancing Europe’s global deployment of power: Eight proposals” focuses on Europe’s strategic challenges from inside and outside the continent that undermines its ability to fully exercise its sharp and soft power. We ask: What is responsible for this underutilization of sharp and soft power?

To approach that question, the project applies a back-casting approach: instead of developing different scenarios for Europe in 2030, the project starts with an ideal scenario and asks experts from government, business and academia to develop measures to reach this scenario. During that process, factors are identified that undermined an ideal development of these measures. Starting from a best-case scenario for Europe, participants were asked to develop measures that lead from today´s under-utilization to a fuller and more effective use by 2030.

By looking at four policy fields (finance and investment; trade; creation and control of knowledge; and data ownership and Regulation) the group came up with an initial set of such measures, which we have vetted and developed further since then.

Why underutilization?

Europe has many assets yet does not seem to be able to fully use them: it has a sizable population only exceeded by India and China, and is a global market power, generating 16.3% of global GDP in 2018, roughly equivalent today to the shares of both China and the US. The EU is the world’s largest free-trading zone and has the 2nd most important international reserve currency. Lacking comparable hard power, Europe has traditionally seen itself as the global champion of ‘soft power’, defined as the ability to project its values and norms onto the global stage, without relying on force or coercion.
The EU is, however, increasingly less able to coherently exercise this power. It is a union of citizens and states in which power remains in the hands of the states, competing against each other to a considerably greater extent than their counterparts in China and the US. In relation to many of the big challenges of the day, individual member states are frequently the global interlocutors, rather than there being a collective European voice.

“Europe in 2030”

In 2030, we envision the EU to act as a self-confident and united market power that offers a democratic and socially inclusive alternative globally. We furthermore see the EU as a champion of

  1. Economic growth with high-quality employment
  2. Open trade with equitable access for those outside the single market or customs union
  3. A rule-based order with norm setting ambitions, enhancing and further developing today’s multilateral order.

Project outcome

The initial workshop was held in early May 2019 at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and was attended by around 20 experts from all over Europe.

The results of the initial workshop have been tested in a validation workshop in July 2019 at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at The Johns Hopkins University and in another round of online validation with experts from Asia.

The project report, which describes all developed measures in detail, was presented at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels in early October 2019.

Watch this space for the final report, which will be online soon.


Foresight I

“European Security 2030”

From 2018 until 2019, the Dahrendorf Foresight Project „European Security in 2030” brought together experts from 12 countries to look into the future, engaging in strategic and systematic conversation about the drivers of European security in the decade ahead. The result is a collection of six alternative futures that – taking into account political, technological, socioeconomic and migratory trends – suggest various versions of tomorrow’s reality. While the presented scenarios are mere representations of what “could be”, they are uniquely informative for anyone wondering where current global trends will lead us 10 years down the road.

Read the full report here.

What is foresight and why do it?

Today, strategic foresight and scenario planning is being applied in strategy design and policy planning processes throughout the private and public sector. It plays an increasingly important role in assessing risks and unintended consequences of decisions in a highly volatile and uncertain environment. Strategic foresight aims at identifying weak signals of change and reveal “unknown unknowns”. Depending on their interplay, their dynamics and their influence on the system at stake, they may lead into completely different kinds of futures (scenarios). These alternative futures may hold risks and dangers but also chances, opportunities and leeway for action. The more decision-makers have thought through such alternative narratives of change, the better they are prepared in case of their emergence, contributing to the ability of ‘anticipatory governance’.