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Long Term Vision

Last November, EU Defence Ministers mandated the European Defence Agency (EDA) to develop a Long Term Vision (LTV) for European Military Capability Needs, with the horizon of 2025. The EUISS provided a central contribution to this project, bearing on the global context in which ESDP would be set twenty years down the line. This exercise, known as the LTV's Strand One, was developed alongside two parallel and interconnected strands of work, addressing the Future Military Environment and Technological Trends. These have been conducted, respectively, by the EU Military Committee and by the EDA in association with European aerospace and defence industries. The three strands will eventually be merged into one single document, which will provide the basis for an initial LTV to be submitted to the EDA Steering Board.
The Institute's team in charge of Strand One consulted over the past three months more than 650 studies, reports and documents to identify future developments in seven key areas: Demography, Environment, Economy, Energy, Science & Technology, Society & Culture and Global Governance. For each of these areas, major long-term trends have been identified and analysed. Based on this work, the team developed a comprehensive, while not all-inclusive, vision of the state of the world by 2025 and drew conclusions on the security implications for the European Union.
This exercise is not about making predictions, particularly given the range of the variables to be taken into account, and the potential for unforeseeable major disruptive events. The global vision presented by the ISS, however, shows where developments could lead to and where risks lie. As such, the output of Strand One of the LTV is not only of interest for the identification of the future ESDP capability requirements, but also relevant to foreign policy making and to EU external action at large.
Based on the broad outlook produced by the EUISS, the evolution of the international system over the next two decades will be marked by a mix of continuity and discontinuity. Some fundamental tendencies, such as the globalisation of the economy, will continue and even intensify. Energy and technology will act as driving forces. The world will become more inter-dependent not only at the economic level, but also from a political and cultural standpoint. The impact of globalisation on countries and societies will magnify their strengths and weaknesses, leading to growing tensions between the winners and the losers of globalisation, and potentially generating a backlash against it. The world will be highly interdependent, but equally diverse, more unequal and contradictory.
The balance of power in the world will undergo a considerable shift to the advantage of emerging actors such as China and India, which will put global governance to serious test. It is unclear who will set the global agenda twenty years from now. The scope for consensus on how to address shared challenges, from environmental degradation to poverty reduction and good governance, may shrink. The future international system will therefore conceivably be more unstable and more competitive. In such an environment, the strategic position of the EU itself will not be comfortable: surrounded by and dependent on an increasingly unstable neighbourhood, and facing important demographic, economic and political challenges at the domestic level, the Union will have to keep the pace of change to preserve its status in the world.
The breadth of the LTV exercise is such that the report submitted by the ISS should be regarded only as a first step. By consulting a wide range of experts, the EUISS will take this project forward and formulate a fully-fledged vision of the shape of the world to come, including its key political, economic, and natural (environment, energy) features, and its security implications.
This is the first time that such an exercise has been undertaken at EU level. The joint analysis of the long-term global environment is an important factor to enable the EU to behave more strategically. This, in turn, is indispensable for the Union to face up to its growing responsibilities as a global actor in a globalised world.