Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Research Report

A changing global environment

Antonio Missiroli
Gerald Stang
Jan Joel Andersson
Cristina Barrios
Hugo Brady
Florence Gaub
Eva Gross
Patryk Pawlak
Eva Pejsova
Nicu Popescu
Thierry Tardy
Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2014
Pages: 91
  • Cite this Item

Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-6)

    The Conclusions of the December 2013 European Council invited ‘the High Representative, in close cooperation with the Commission, to assess the impact of changes in the global environment, and to report to the Council in the course of 2015 on the challenges and opportunities arising for the Union, following consultations with the Member States’.

    The language agreed by the Heads of State and Government of the EU-28 leaves plenty of room for interpretation – and latitude for implementation. Whichever may prevail eventually, it may still be useful to carry out a preliminary, and inevitably cursory, exploration of the ground the...

  2. (pp. 11-20)

    Beyond the arena of international diplomacy, there is another world of travellers, tourists, terrorists, immigrants and refugees that has its own impact on geopolitics through the mass movement of people. The world is currently experiencing an unprecedented explosion in international mobility: global tourist arrivals topped the 1 billion mark in 2012 (almost double the 1995 figure) and are expected to grow to 1.8 billion annually by 2030. And the permanent migration of people across borders is also accelerating due to forces as disparate as economic opportunity, climate change, natural and man-made disasters, conflicts, changing demographics in ageing industrialised countries, and...

  3. (pp. 21-28)

    As the global population has grown and become wealthier, demand for resources has increased at an astonishing rate. The latest UN world population projection (medium fertility variant) estimates that it could reach 10 billion around 2050, marking the second consecutive upward revision of this estimate. This correction of earlier – overoptimistic – estimates is an important reminder that efficient use of the world’s resources will be essential to limit environmental damage and reduce the social and political disruptiveness of scarcity challenges.

    A Europe that can rapidly enhance the environmental sustainability of its economy, without compromising its living standards or economic...

  4. (pp. 29-36)

    New technologies can be game changers – in both war and peace. They provide tools both to defeat enemies and to generate solutions to pressing societal challenges, from energy efficiency to healthcare provision and disaster management. At the same time, new technologies can pose challenges to existing laws and norms such as those related to privacy, cybersecurity or the use of drones. They can also generate new vulnerabilities and disruptions, especially regarding critical infrastructure and non-proliferation issues.

    Europe has long reaped the benefits of being a leader in natural sciences, engineering, and high tech innovation. However, the global spread of...

  5. (pp. 37-44)

    Over the past decade, the global rule-based multilateral system – as embodied by the UN ‘family’ and a few other international organisations – has come under considerable strain. This is a result of the emergence of new powers, the increasing role of non-traditional and non-state actors, and the parallel evolution of ever more elusive and unconventional security threats. ‘Power’ is more diffuse and more difficult to exercise through ever more numerous layers of governance. Two main trends are emerging: increasing interdependence, which requires cooperation to guard against possible disruptions, and increasing competition (both normative and geopolitical), which instead hampers cooperation...

  6. (pp. 45-56)

    The European Union is tightly interdependent with its immediate Eastern neighbourhood (the former USSR and the Balkans) in terms of security, trade, energy and people-to-people contacts. In 2012, 43% of EU oil imports came from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan; Russia is also the EU’s main gas provider (accounting for 32% of imports in 2012, on a par with Norway) and third largest trading partner. Half of all Schengen visa are issued in Russia and Ukraine. And, through the Association Agreements, a few key countries in the Eastern environment are the most likely candidates for alignment with – and gradual inclusion...

  7. (pp. 57-66)

    From Nouakchott to Baghdad stretches a region which matters to the EU due not only to its geographic proximity, but also to its strategic value. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries are close economic partners for the EU – 50% of Arab trade goes to Europe (62% for North Africa), while 11% of EU trade is with the region. Less than 30% of EU oil and gas comes from the MENA countries but it plays a central role in shaping the global energy markets on which Europe is dependent. There are cultural ties, too: 7 to 8 million...

  8. (pp. 67-75)

    The Southern shore of the Mediterranean is no longer – if it ever was – a self-contained ‘neighbourhood’ of the European Union. It is also a temporary destination and a transit point for activities – economic, political, legal and illegal – that originate further South, including a rising number of migrants and refugees. This starts with the sliver of instability that stretches from Mali to Somalia and its combination of state fragility, local grievances, cross-border terrorism, poverty, underdevelopment, and criminal networks trafficking in arms, drugs and people. In a region where borders are virtually impossible to monitor and protect, too...

  9. (pp. 77-86)

    For centuries, Europe’s trade with and expansion towards the Asian continent followed a primarily maritime vector – through the ‘Indo-Pacific’ space stretching from North East Africa to South East Asia and, later on, from Suez to Shanghai. The Indo-Pacific region is now swept by dynamics largely driven by the rise of its two economic powerhouses – China and, to a lesser extent, India – which are shifting the global strategic balance eastwards. By 2020, China is set to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy and, by 2030, China, India, Indonesia and Japan together will make up half of...