Opinion & Analysis

Global Trendometer: Essays on medium- and long-term global trends, July 2018


In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Dwight Eisenhower

This compendium of essays and vignettes should aid EU decision-makers in their long-term planning and strategic outlook. It is not meant to predict the future, but to highlight the important trends and questions that will determine the fate of the European Union.

The Global Trendometer

The Global Trendometer is a regular product of the Global Trends Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). It draws on general foresight publications, inter alia from the European Union, the US National Intelligence Council, the OECD, NATO and the World Economic Forum, as well as other more specialised foresight work. It also builds on the 2015 ESPAS Report and the proceedings of the annual ESPAS conferences. Key criteria for the selection2 of trends to be analysed are: changes in trend or in perceptions, treatment of the subject in the surveyed foresight literature, cross-sectorial impact, and relevance to the EU. This publication does not offer answers or make recommendations. It presents summarised information derived from a range of carefully selected sources, for the consideration of the membership of the European Parliament. We seek complementarity between editions of the Trendometer. For an overview of the methodology, see the next chapter. For a complete list of our past and present topics, see Chapter ‘Total Global Trendometer Output’.

This issue includes essays on the future of India, the labour-share of income, and democracy and artificial intelligence. It also has shorter pieces – vignettes – giving an overview of trends, uncertainties, and possible disruptions on geo-engineering, remittances, food security in China, economic waves, the US after Trump, public procurement and deep fakes.

The EPRS Global Trends Unit prepares long-term analysis, also called foresight, in many ways. Aside from the Global Trendometer, we prepare strategy exercises, where experts and decision-makers check assumptions on important questions. We build connections with Members of the European Parliament and perform outreach to outside foresight experts. Finally, we organise the European Parliament’s participation in the inter-institutional ESPAS process.

European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS)

The aim of the ESPAS initiative is to strengthen the EU’s collective administrative capacity for foresight. It seeks to provide informed, up-to-date analysis of long-term policy challenges and options for the decision-makers within the participating institutions. It is a joint initiative of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service, with the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Investment Bank as observers. The work by the Global Trends Unit feeds into the ESPAS process and into the next ESPAS report that will be published for the incoming decision-makers of the new legislature.

Read the full report here