Scenarios of Europe in 2030

Future Scenarios

Last week we had a ”My Europe“ Workshop in Berlin in cooperation with the German newspaper “Die Welt”. Journalists of this this daily, which is published by the Axel Springer AG, had prepared five theses about Europe in 2030. These provocative scenarios paint quite a dramatic picture of Europe in 15 years’ time; however, they proved to be good food for thought. I would like to invite you to also reflect on these future scenarios and to contemplate the (un)likeliness of these set-ups.

Europe 2030:

  • The EU is an elitist project. The common man does not understand the procedures anymore, but that does not matter since he is not allowed to vote anyways.
  •  Our continent is a fortress, isolated from poor and sick intruders. In this way, the rich and the clever remain among themselves.
  •  Everyone speaks English only. There are no other languages.
  •  The EU does not exist anymore. It started with Greece and England, soon more and more states decided to exit.
  •  A dictatorship of pensioners is achieved; all young people under 30 have fled to Asia or Africa where they attract less attention.

Without doubt, Europe is once again at a turning point. The many talks between the Greek government, the European Commission and heads of states seem to be, once again, decisive. I would like to chip to in with the following proposition: a debt cut for Europe. Let’s abolish all debts, let’s create a new basis with new, equal criteria for everyone and a framework that is fair and consistent. What do you think?

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…


Grexit, Too High a Bill and Too Big a Deal

A Greek temple bathed in sunlight, Spotlight Europe
The Greek heritage. (Flickr: petros asimomytis/licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The European reality has always been crossed by threats of division and secessionisms due to its cultural and political diversity which constitutes both its weak point but also the basis for building its strength.

One of these aspects, which had remained a latent possibility in the last years, is now becoming more concrete; It has been nicknamed as Grexit, the hypothetical Greek withdrawal from the Eurozone.

“European reality has always been crossed by threats of division”

In February, the new Tsipras government reached an agreement with the Eurozone creditor countries, including a package of immediate reforms and an extension of four months of the financial assistance program. Even though Europe could feel relieved at the moment the compromise calls for tough negotiations on a new financial assistance program, to be introduced by the end of June.

In any negotiation the fundamental element that influences the behaviour of the players and then the final result, as Jean Pisani-Ferri, French economist, public policy expert and French government Commissioner General for Policy Planning recently observed, is the cost that the impossibility to find a further agreement would bring to the protagonists themselves.

To understand more deeply the phenomenon, it is important to focus on two key points: The actual legal provisions it could base its ruts in and the economic consequences of its realization.

Concerning the first aspect, under the Treaty on the European Union, the fundamental document of institutional regulation of the EU, it is written that «Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements» (Art. 50), but no provision appears to establish either the opposite process, an exclusion carried out by all the components against one Member State, or the revocability of the Euro – membership.

Andre Sapir, Bruegel, Spotlight Europe
Andre Sapir, Bruegel (Detail, Flickr: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills/licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)

André Sapir, think tank Bruegel’s Senior Fellow, Professor of Economics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and former economic adviser to the president of the European Commission confirmed this. In an interview that recently appeared in several European daily newspapers, the Italian Il Sole 24 Ore, he affirmed that Grexit is just an exercise of «Phanta-politics». He also underlined that the other Member States would not accept to lose a Mediterranean politically and economically strategic point, such as Greece.

But what would be the bill generated by a possible Greek withdrawal from the Eurozone, in economic terms?



Germany vs. Europe?

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl (Remix by Spotlight Europe)
Is Germany playing with the future of the European Union? (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

During the last months it appeared as if Germany’s image that was tediously reestablished 70 years after the end of the Second World War, is in the process of deterioration in large parts of Europe. However German politicians still believe that they are doing everything right. It becomes apparent in the way in which they are dealing with the crisis in Ukraine and Greece but also in the manner in which they appear towards other states and give advice.

Now, one eventually wonders how can it be that the Germans are perceived as arrogant, dogmatic technocratic and stubborn. What are the reasons in the end?

“Economic power helped Germany to its outstanding position”

One aspect for sure is that the economic power helped Germany to its outstanding position at Europe’s front. Germany is believed to be rich. Many people hold the belief that its wealth and economic influence has not only been gained by effort alone but also by beneficial historic constellations after the Second World War. The swift provisions of its war debts may have played a crucial role as well as the launch of the Marshall Plan that pumped money into Germany’s base material industries and into its medium-sized enterprises.

It is not decisive at all of whether or not Greece has met the financial criteria for accessing the monetary union at that time. It is a fact that Europe needs to stand together now and that the Euro is an identity-forming currency that will leave its stamp on our future in the world.

Germany has to wake up to its current image and has to discard its self-inflicted leading position in Europe, otherwise it will risk its future, the future of the European Union, the Euro and especially the future of generations to come.

“oderint dum metuant”

The Roman saying “oderint dum metuant” – may they hate me if only they do fear me – by Lucius Accius cannot be Germany’s maxim for the future. It does not mean however that Germany should start to back down in everything. Neither does it mean that it should let itself be blackmailed by its Nazi past. Put plainly it means that the Germans should for a start show more humility and understanding towards people living in other countries.

How do you see this?

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…


Meet with My Prof.

Georgi meets his Professor Dr. Steven to learn more about his view on Europe. (Picture: Dr. Martin Steven, Georgi Kirkov; Remix by Spotlight Europe)

Ever wondered how your professors and teachers see Europe and its future? Then lets conduct an interview with them! Spotlight Europe supports you when you want to do an interview. Georgi (21) goes to Lancaster University and has met with his professor Dr. Martin Steven.

Georgi: Who is Dr. Martin Steven?

Prof. Steven: I am a lecturer in political science at Lancaster University, UK, and also the convener for postgraduate studies in Politics. My research interests fall within the area of comparative government, especially the European Union. I have published around 20 articles and books on the role of political parties and interest groups in the public policy process, including projects focusing on multi-level governance, electoral system design and social policy issues. I have also worked in the past in the public and not-for-profit sector, including for a London-based NGO.

Georgi: The news about the Scottish independence referendum is gradually fading away, but how likely is it to have another one in a couple of decades?

“Nationalism has a tendency not to go away completely.”

Prof. Steven: There is a chance – at present, the Scottish National Party is enjoying a lot of popularity in the opinion polls. The SNP would need to win an outright majority at the next Scottish elections in 2016 to bring forward a new referendum in the near future. We know from studying similar cases such as Quebec in Canada and Catalonia in Spain that nationalism has a tendency not to go away completely, but develop in different forms. Yet if support for independence in Catalonia is presently strong, support for it in Quebec is presently relatively low so we will have to wait and see in which direction Scotland heads.

Georgi: Do you believe that the EU gave Greece loans which it knew could not be repaid without taking new ones and in a way put the Hellenic Republic in a vicious circle?

Prof. Steven: I am not sure the EU has done anything too unreasonable – the Greek economy needed to be bailed out due to excessive public expenditure, and the Commission, the Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund stepped in to help. While it is reasonable for many ordinary Greek voters to feel disillusioned with aspects of EU economic policy, it is not really fair for the new Syriza government to suggest that the problems are all the responsibility of Brussels.

Georgi: Where will the enlargement process of the EU end? Do you think that Turkey should ever become an EU member state?

“The Eurozone crisis has really affected confidence in an ever closer union.”

Prof. Steven: It used to be that the answer to this question was ‘no’ as European leaders appeared to be intent on widening and deepening their borders as much as possible – but the context is quite different now. The Eurozone crisis has really affected confidence in an ‘ever closer union’, even amongst those who believe that EU integration has no reverse gear. Turkey has been a candidate country for European membership for many years – and I do not think that will change any time soon due primarily to the size of its population.

Georgi: How do you imagine Europe in the year 2065? Will the EU survive?

Prof. Steven: It is a good question – the former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said that ‘a week is a long time in politics’… We can be confident that the government of Europe will be reformed quite a lot over the next few years. There may well develop a type of two tier European Union, one with the Euro (and therefore also fiscal union) and one outside the Eurozone that resembles more of a free trade area. But it is difficult to see the European Union not surviving in some form as different European countries have too much in common both economically and culturally to not work together politically.

Visit Prof. Dr. Steven´s website for more information about him. (Site)

About the interviewer:
Picture Georgi Georgiev Kirkov, Spotlight Europe
Georgi interviewed his Prof.

Georgi (21) participated in our workshop in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2012. He currently studies Politics and International Relations at University of Lancaster in England.