Opinion & Analysis

Alternative Futures of EU Integration after the Covid-19 pandemic

Andrea Renda, Aaron Rosa,  Moritz Laurer, Andrea Roess, Agnes Sipiczki and Philine Warnke

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on EU integration, and on the role of the EU in the global governance context. In this report, we present four possible scenarios that may materialize in the coming years, and up to 2040, by using an ‘alternative futures’ approach. This is an exploratory method deployed to develop a better understanding of what may yet happen, as opposed to postulating what is most likely to happen.

The project included two digital workshops with the goal to develop a set of scenarios examining the impact of Covid-19 on the potential futures for EU integration. The scenarios, set in the year 2040, aim to communicate a series of alternative worlds that might emerge from developments of internal and external factors. We describe an ‘Optimistic New Deal’ scenario, which portrays a strong EU backed by Member States and leading the world towards tackling global challenges; a ‘Wretched fortress’ scenario, in which the EU faces severe difficulties due to rising Euroscepticism and a significant slowdown in the process of integration; a ‘United Force’ scenario, with the EU focusing on a limited number of global challenges and Member States relying on inter-governmental agreements for a wide array of policy domains; and a ‘Chinese province’ scenario, in which the EU splits, and the Member States that remain merge with a Eurasian bloc under the leadership of an increasingly eco-authoritarian China.

The report then explores the consequences of these scenarios for the domains of development and health policy.

The report is prepared in the context of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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