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“The European in 2030 will be…

Fall 2011 Strategic Futures

“The European in 2030 will be…

European of the yearFraser Cameron

… living in an oasis of prosperity and security in an increasingly turbulent world. The economic and financial upheavals of 2008 to 2012 will have been a serious wake-up call for Europe. After witnessing the precipitous decline of the US – unable to tackle its massive debt load – and the inability of the BRIC countries to promote sustainable development, the EU will have launched a twin programme of cutting debt and promoting green innovation. There will have been problems along the way – with a number of countries leaving the Eurozone – but the tough policies of the powerful European Central Bank will have proved successful, and the Euro will have taken over from the US dollar as the world’s top reserve currency.

The 2030 enlargement of the EU to include Turkey, Ukraine and the Western Balkans will not only have given the bloc a significant economic boost, but also have coincided with the establishment of a European Security Council that will have further enhanced the growing foreign policy role of the Union. Indeed, the resolution of outstanding bilateral issues (as, for instance, between Turkey and Cyprus) will have been one of the success stories of the Union in the 2030s. And the perennial debate over widening and deepening of the Union will have almost been resolved. The one remaining country outside of the EU – Switzerland – will be in the final stages of its accession negotiations.

In 2030, the European is a most fortunate citizen, whose identity is shaped by the growing success of the continent, as well as by the melting pot of cultures and nationalities that together form the expanded European family.”

» Fraser Cameron is Director of the EU-Asia Centre in Brussels, a Senior Fellow at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and author of several books and articles on European affairs.

John Darcy

…secure in his or her fundamental human rights. The creation and development of an advanced and robust system for safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Europe’s states stand out as a signal achievement of the continent’s oldest regional organization – the Council of Europe. Its many and diverse human rights bodies and procedures form a cohesive and protective infrastructure – at the heart of which stands the European Court of Human Rights. A unique international institution, the Court allows individuals to call governments to account for human rights violations via the due process of law conducted by independent and impartial judges. Taking an avowedly dynamic approach to its mission, the Court has interpreted and reinterpreted the European Convention on Human Rights so as to ensure its enduring impact and continuing relevance to the immense population within its scope.

Europeans, 20 years hence, will be the beneficiaries of many decades of international judicial action to uphold and consolidate their basic human rights. It has never been the purpose – nor has it been the effect – of European human rights law to impose uniformity on European states in this regard. And it is to be expected that the same spirit of pluralism will prevail well into the future. At the same time, the continuing harmonization of minimum, core human rights standards throughout the community of Convention states is also to be expected – giving increasing truth to the notion of a Europe of human rights. Virtually every decade in the history of the European Convention system has been marked by adaptation and reform. Further change over the next two decades is more than likely, with the Court that we know today entering a new phase of its existence.

A highly desirable scenario is surely one in which the Court retains a role that is pivotal, but not all-embracing. Systematic adherence by domestic courts – as well as other state bodies – to Convention norms would allow for a more sustainable balance to emerge between the national and European components of the Convention system – to the greater benefit of all.

If the states of Europe keep faith with the ideals of the Convention’s authors, and continue on the trajectory of the past half-dozen decades, then there are grounds for looking forward to a future in which Europeans will be secure in their human rights, and proud inheritors of one of the richest bodies of human rights work in the history of mankind.”

» John Darcy is an official of the European Court of Human Rights, currently acting as adviser to the Court’s President and Registrar.

Willem Maas

…confident in her European identity – the result of living in an ever more integrated political system. And this confident European identity will be bolstered not only by tightly interwoven governance practices and institutions, but also by social ties fostered by a range of mobility programmes, and by the simple sociological processes of interaction and adaptation. This hypothetical European of 2030 will find it perfectly normal that her parents are from Poland and Portugal, and that they are currently living in Germany, but may soon move to France or perhaps Italy. She may start her university studies in Scotland, but spend a year or more in Spain and then Sweden – while her siblings have similarly mobile educational and professional careers. All members of this family are multilingual, of course, in a continent where French and German remain important secondary languages to the effective lingua franca of English. All higher education institutions throughout Europe offer courses in English – both to facilitate mobility and to keep up with the best scholarship. And children throughout the continent learn English from an early age. As more and more Europeans study and work elsewhere in Europe, they develop and deepen personal relationships, making moving between EU member states akin to moving between provinces in Canada.

This type of prediction is not new. In 1882, for example, in his famous «Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?» lecture given at the Sorbonne, nationalism scholar Ernest Renan declared: «Les nations ne sont pas quelque chose d’éternel. Elles ont commencé, elles finiront. La confédération européenne, probablement, les remplacera». The question arises: how can we be confident that the prediction sketched above will come true, rather than plausible alternatives signalled by the current rise of populist and traditionalist parties that combine a fear of the other with misplaced patriotism?

A fixation with, and adulation for, national identity helped to cause or exacerbate the two most destructive wars in Europe in the 20th century. Though virtually everyone with personal memories of those wars will no longer be alive in 2030, Europeans appear to have learned the lessons of history. They have designed institutions and fostered processes that, already today, make wars between EU states seem as likely as armed conflict between Manitoba and Saskatchewan, or between Florida and Alabama. By 2030, such intra-European conflict will be even more unthinkable, allowing Europeans to focus on the challenges of exporting their respect for rights and celebration of diversity.”

» Willem Maas, Jean Monnet Chair and Associate Professor of political science and public and international affairs at Glendon College, York University, is author of Creating European Citizens.

Lousewies van der Laan

…living in a confident and assertive Europe. In 2030, Europeans will have a new sense of self-confidence. The recession of the second decade of the new millennium will have ingrained in them a new set of values. With incomes down, Europeans will be filling their days with pastimes other than consumption. Connecting with family and friends, and enjoying the arts, literature and nature will become channels through which to escape from previous decades’ stress-filled, unfulfilling lifestyles, which most people spent “buying things they did not want, with money they did not earn, to impress people they did not like.” Whereas the Chinese used to look upon Europe as a quaint museum, where they could buy their Louis Vuitton handbags, they now come to shop for ideas. European universities are full of foreign students, keen to nourish their minds and find better solutions to the challenges at home.

Europe saved the Euro when the strong economies realized that further integration of macroeconomic policy was required, and the weaker countries left the Eurozone. The Great Depression motto – “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” – made a ‘green’ lifestyle de rigueur. As growth returned, there was no similar desire to return to rampant consumerism. Moving to sustainable meat production ensured that large patches of the Amazon were saved from destruction. A network of sustainable energy sources – including a Sahara-wide solar grid managed by North Africa’s new democracies – gave Europe energy independence from despotic regimes. This allowed it to conduct a foreign policy based on principles, rather than on economic pragmatism.

In 2030, dictators are shunned, human rights activists openly supported, polluting businesses punished, and trade limited to those who aspire to the same norms. Europe has completely stopped the export of weapons, in the knowledge that sooner or later they will be turned against Europe and against innocent civilians. Smart sanctions, such as those that bankrupted Syria’s Assad regime, have proved to be more effective, and are preferred over the use of force.

Europe has made closer cooperation with North Africa’s new democracies and other countries conditional on real political reform. Cultural cross-fertilization has led to a progressive brand of Islam – leaving the last bastions of conservative Islam in Saudi Arabia and Iran isolated. Progressive alliances waged successful battles in developing countries in favour of women’s rights. Women’s increased economic and political power, combined with real sexual and reproductive rights, have stabilized population growth and allowed numerous African and Asian countries to escape from poverty.

Europe’s transformation has been brought about by economic and ecological crises and societal tensions. Casting aside a messianic belief that one individual or party can lead people to a better future, Europeans have realized that all individuals need to play an active role in shaping their future. (Diversity in all of its forms became policy first, then practice, and then habit.) Systems have been reformed to bring more transparency and impose stronger checks and balances on those in power – both in politics and in the economy. By taking responsibility for their own destiny, Europeans have gained the self-confidence that, in the coming decades, will allow them to keep developing the ideas that make the world a better place.”

» Lousewies van der Laan is Vice-President of the European Liberal Democrats and a former member of the Dutch and the European Parliaments for the Dutch Democratic Party, D66.

Ismail Ertug

…richer in all of its forms and manifestations.

In today’s fast-changing world, Europe faces several major challenges: a global economic crisis, a weakened currency, an ageing population, climate change, continuing energy dependence and threats of terrorism. These challenges all call for global solutions, and require that traditional national thinking be put aside.

Theoretically, the EU’s 27 member states should be better prepared than other nations to engage in such global governance. Through relentless negotiation procedures within the EU’s institutional setup, they have learned to master a comparative advantage in compromise and multilateral commitment. The negative results of the referenda in France, the Netherlands and Ireland on the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties, respectively, triggered an inertial period of reflection – a peak of Euroscepticism. While this time of crisis was finally overcome by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009, the decline in voter turnout for European elections and the more recent effects of the European debt crisis continue to be alarming signals for EU politics. As Euroscepticism further develops, so too does the revitalized debate on the creation of a federal Europe. Before engaging too fervertly in this direction, however, Europeans need to build strong consensus. Despite the EU’s past achievements – political stability, a solid legal system and the Single Market with its four freedoms – its politicians have to emphasise the EU’s potential role on the global stage. This role could, for instance, be in the field of climate change through its excellence in research and development, and in the promotion of peace through its enlargement and neighbourhood policies.

Ideally, in 2030 a European will be a global citizen who feels European abroad just as he self-identifies with his national roots. Multiple layers of identification – regional, national, supranational or global – will be present in the cosmopolitan citizen of tomorrow’s EU, for whom national boundaries will have become arbitrary constructs of the past.”

» Ismail Ertug is a German politician (SDP) and, since 2009, a Member of the European Parliament.


(Illustration: Adam Niklewicz)

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