Written by Leopold Schmertzing,

europe in the night

The EU faces challenges from both outside and within its borders. Most of these are the symptoms of big underlying trends, and handling them requires foresight. The annual Global Trendometer aims to provide such foresight for decision-makers in the EU, by analysing the changes in these long-term trends. The publication does not offer answers or make recommendations; rather, it presents summarised information derived from a range of carefully selected sources. This latest issue of the Global Trendometer analyses the following long-term trends: The future of India: Aligning ambition and potential

  • India possesses essential demographic, political and economic ingredients for long-term success, but also has major constraints to overcome, such as regionalism, nationalism, and sorting out relations with their neighbours, Pakistan and China.

The future of the labour share of income

  • Over forty years, labour compensation as part of the national income shrank, while the share of capital increased. This trend correlates with the rise in inequality. Digitalisation, globalisation and demographic change might further decline the labour share.

Democracy in the age of artificial intelligence

  • Artificial intelligence can diminish or increase democratic freedoms. It can polarise or enliven the political debate. It will probably take a central place in pro- or anti-democratic beliefs. One thing is certain: AI will force democracies and authoritarian states to adapt.

The US political system after Trump: Lasting damage to the republic:

  • Donald Trump has shattered political rules, reinterpreted the role of the US President like none of his predecessors, and changed relations with Congress, the judiciary and bureaucracy, but is his administration an exception, or a new standard, and is he a threat to the republic?

Remittances: a hidden contribution to development

  • Remittances sent from migrants abroad are a significant and stable source of income, exceeding direct investment globally. They increasingly help women, and could be revolutionised with crypto-currencies, however nationalism and anti-terror legislation may limit remittance income.

Food (in)security in China

  • With rising wealth and demand, in 2030, China might no longer be able to cater to increasing food demands. Political sensitivities and environmental issues come into play and future global land-grabbing by China might not be sufficient to meet its population’s rising demand for meat.

Long-term economic waves: Fact or fiction?

  • 40 to 60-year economic cycles explain the patterns seen after the inventions of the steam engine, railroads, chemical and electro-technology, the automobile and lately information technology. The next cycle might be related to ecology, ageing and biotechnology.

Public procurement in the city of the future

  • Urban public procurement is tied to trends such as a shift of power to cities, greater administrative flexibility and greater use of the private sector. Adequate monitoring of data might solve ecological issues and spread participation.

Deep fake: from fake news to fake reality?

  • A ‘deep fake’ is disinformation based on digitally manipulated data, for example videos. Due to the plausibility of such forms of data, they have a great negative impact. Artificial intelligence and declining trust might make this worse. What will such practices do to journalism and privacy standards?

Climate engineering, a miracle solution to climate change?

  • Technically possible, geoengineering tools involve interventions on land, in the oceans or in outer space. Although many techniques remain hypothetical, concerns are raised. What are the uncertainties? Can a climate-safe future be created?

The Global Trendometer uses a specific foresight tool – trend analysis – which asks: how will developments catch up with us in the future? It is, however, not only focusing on trends, but also on uncertainties – key questions that decide the future trajectories of trends – and on disruptions – low probability, high impact opportunities and threats. This is the third edition of the Global Trendometer, following earlier issues in 2016 and 2017. The Global Trends Unit has produced a total of 32 articles on future issues that are still relevant today. Why not read for yourself?

Read the complete study on ‘Global Trendometer – Essays on medium- and long-term global trends – July 2018‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.