Addressing the future together: the Annual ESPAS Conference

Written by Leopold Schmertzing This year’s Annual Conference of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) on ‘The Global…

Written by Leopold Schmertzing

This year’s Annual Conference of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) on ‘The Global Economic and Technological Revolution’ will be held on 12-13 November 2015 in Brussels.

The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) is a framework for cooperation and consultation at an administrative level, and on a voluntary basis, between the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Council, and the European External Action Service, with the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee as observers. The aim is to work together on medium- and long-term trends facing the European Union.

This year’s ESPAS conference brings together some of today’s foremost thinkers and practitioners. Building on the recently-published ESPAS report, entitled Global Trends to 2030: Can the EU meet the challenges ahead?, it envisions a lively and innovative discussion on the future of ‘The Global Economic and Technological Revolution’. The report itself already highlights the transformative industrial and technological revolution that will gain speed in the next decade and asks how to reshape our economy and foster a society of change and innovation.

The first day of the conference, organised by the European Commission, is titled ‘Global Trends 2030: Economy and Government‘. Experts and policy makers will look at economic and technological issues such as: How will digital technologies transform jobs, economic well-being, value-creation and business models over the next 15 to 20 years? What is the future of work, education and government? How can we keep the internet open and collaborative? How might we embrace ‘breakthrough’ technologies already in the pipeline? Access to the event is by invitation only.

Day two focuses on ”Global Trends 2030: Future Society, Science and Geopolitics‘ and is organised by the European Parliament. The event brings together three panels of academics and practitioners for ‘armchair conversations’ on some of the key global trends redefining the future and reshaping the policy landscape. How will societies adjust to face such varied challenges as climate change and a new global middle class? How will scientific breakthroughs change our daily lives and define who we are as human beings and societies? How robustly will the transatlantic partnership deal with old and new challenges?

This conference launches a new cycle of events that will also explore the other two ‘global revolutions’ identified in the report. In 2016, the ‘social and democratic revolution’ focuses on the rising middle class and on dealing with inequalities and restoring trust in democracy. In 2017, the ‘geopolitical revolution’ will address issues like multipolarity and Chinas rise and will ask how to enhance the international role of the EU. In between future annual conferences, the ESPAS network will focus on a wide range of future issues in order to stimulate both debate and action.

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  • Sirs,

    this is very interesting. We from the European Academy of Sciences and Arts are launching the project “Next Europe” and please ask Mr. Schmertzing on his interest on this project, which would be very complementary to this endeavours.


    Felix Unger



    Dear members,

    Dear friends,

    Europe appears fragile today. However, the answers to the present crises are weak. Without a myth or vision, those crises can hardly be managed.

    A myth always establishes identity, and in a narrative way a cohesive European identity can be formed. Let us tell each other, what we think of Europe. Let us tell each other, how the “Next Europe” should look like. All those concerned with Europe, are invited to communicate their thoughts and ideas from the perspective of their respective academic field. “Next Europe” is the collection of ideas and concepts of European citizens with the aim of providing a solid basis for Europe’s future. Only through a concrete vision of Europe’s future are we able to form a different Europe – the “Next Europe”.

    The artist Anselm Kiefer has appropriately portrayed Europe’s present situation in two of his paintings. One is called, “Hortus philosophorum” – the garden of philosophers – in which scholars develop ideas and concepts while strolling through the garden. The second one is called “Starfall” and illustrates how easily Europe can fall apart. Through a narrative way, however, the stars of Europe’s heaven may be fixed again

    You are cordially invited to go with us into the garden, the “hortus philosophorum”. We will collect your ideas, which you are asked to enter in the word document attached to and send it back to The results will be collected in form of a readable text, your authorship will be ensured of course. The goal of the project is to fix the stars of Europe again, to make them shine brightly so they can show us the future of Europe – the “Next Europe”.

    All European Academies as well as those outside of Europe are also invited to contribute to their perception of Europe.

    We, The European Academy of Sciences and Arts as one of the biggest Think Tanks of Europe, are called upon to collect concepts and ideas for our “Next Europe”.

    Attached you will find the basic concept for the project as well as a roadmap and another document, in which you can enter your comments and ideas and send them back to The overall text emerging from our project will include your name.

    The final publication will be presented to a wide audience with the goal to find a basis for the future of Europe.

    Jiří Drahoš, President of the Czech Academy, has promised me recently to organise the first meeting for “Next Europe” in Prague. The date will be announced in due time.

    „Next Europe” is a very ambitious project, for which you are all invited to participate. Moreover, you are cordially asked to forward this E-Mail to your friends and relatives, who are concerned about Europe – particularly those outside the German-speaking area. This appeal should spread like an avalanche over Europe.

    With best regards,

    Felix Unger

    Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Felix Unger


    European Academy of Sciences and Arts St.-Peter-Bezirk 10, A-5020 Salzburg Austria Tel: +43 / 662 / 84 13 45 Fax: +43 / 662 / 84 13 43

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