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Progress for our plans get Europe ready for a changing world

8 October 2013

Progress for our plans get Europe ready for a changing world

A British MEP’s blueprint for keeping the EU abreast of changing trends in key areas such as population growth, climate and shifting global power, received the enthusiastic backing of the European Parliament today (Tuesday).

A British MEP’s blueprint for keeping the European Union abreast of changing trends in key areas such as population growth, climate and shifting global power, received the enthusiastic backing of the European Parliament today (Tuesday).

The report by James Elles, Conservative MEP for the South East, builds on existing plans for a planning framework that would link the three EU institutions in identifying long-term trends on major policy issues.

It describes a world in rapid transition and points to fundamental changes in power, demography, climate, urbanisation and technology. Such scope and speed of change means that policy-makers must invest much greater effort into reading these global megatrends, it argues.

Specifically, the report calls for an agreement to be signed between the three EU institutions, the Parliament, Commission and Council, to ensure that staff with the right expertise are committed fully to analysing and monitoring global trends, creating an online repository of papers and source-material which should be available to policy-makers and citizens worldwide.

Presenting his report to MEPs in Strasbourg, Mr Elles explained: “Effective EU policy-making will depend more and more on the timely identification of long-term trends that have a bearing on the challenges and choices facing the Union in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.”

But he said people should not have the illusion that the purpose of the planned European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) was to predict the future. History was littered with examples of those who thought they knew how events were going to unfold, only to find the opposite occurred, he cautioned.

He went on: “The emphasis must be…on developing an effective capacity for the provision of independent, high-quality inter institutional analysis and advice on key trends confronting policy-makers within the EU system., on a regular basis.

He said a pilot project had already identified three major themes:

>The evolving empowerment of the individual, in part by technological change.

>The rise of the global middle class, against a backdrop of growing resource-scarcity and persistent poverty.

>The emergence of a multi-polar world where non-state actors play a critical role, with growing governance gaps.

Now, in a second phase, more attention was being paid to economic, social and governance trends, in the hope of identifying those with greatest significance for the EU over the next five years. A document setting out firm plans for on-going inter-institutional co-operation would be finalised towards the middle of next year for the incoming leaders of the EU institutions to consider.

Said Mr Elles: “If successful, ESPAS will be able to provide incisive and forward-looking documents which will help prepare EU decisions in an open manner, having access to the best information available. In the past, many have said that it is survival of the fittest…in tomorrow’s world, it is more likely the best informed who will be the survivors.”

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