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  • Strategic Notes

    EPSC Strategic Notes are analytical papers on topics chosen by the President of the European Commission. They are produced by the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), the European Commission’s in-house think tank.

    Ensuring Affordable, Fast and Reliable Internet Access for a Thriving Digital Ecosystem
    Issue 19
    25 July 2016

    The long-term success of a digital economy based on the Internet of Things, Machine to Machine technologies, cloud computing and Big Data, will crucially depend on access to the highest quality telecom infrastructure. With no prospect of enjoying fast and ultra-fast reliable Internet access, few industries will invest in Europe and citizens will struggle to benefit from the digital revolution. That is why Europe must urgently raise its digital game.

    A European Vision for Sustainability
    Issue 18
    20 July 2016

    Report by Karl Falkenberg, Senior Adviser for Sustainable Development to the President of the European Commission.

    Driving the Modernisation of the EU Economy
    Issue 17
    20 July 2016

    Climate action and the modernisation of the economy are two sides of the same coin. The Paris Climate Agreement concluded in 2015 provides more than a comprehensive framework for global climate resilience: it incentivises investment in innovation and its deployment that can spearhead sustainable and job-creating growth. Reaping the economic and social gains of the low-carbon transition hinges on modernising our notion of ‘mobility’.

    In the digital age, underpinned by data and new technologies, mobility means more than getting from point A to point B: it is about a more global, open and competitive space that comprises not just transport, but also connectivity. It is in the transport sector that the European Union has a global competitive advantage and where millions of Europeans find jobs.

    Capitalising on a New Era of Chinese Global Investment and Foreign Policy Initiatives
    Issue 16
    15 July 2016

    China has become the world’s third largest economy in terms of output – behind the European Union and the United States – thanks to a phenomenal annual growth rate of about 10% since the 1980s. It is now also the third largest global player in external trade. Yet, China is slowing down in its economic race, despite having made the greatest contribution to world output growth in 2015.

    The significance of the Chinese economy and the questions arising about its sustainability bear strategic and direct consequences for the EU.

    Europe’s Mission to Innovate
    Issue 15
    5 July 2016

    Europe has always been a world-leading inventor. We retain the core skills and deep science culture that have made this possible. In this century too, Europe can contribute a great share of the world’s new tools: in genomics and biotech, in data and materials, in energy and nutrition, in propulsion and cognition, in health and well-being, both physical and mental.

    Will Europe continue its innovation mission? This is not a theoretical or empirical question but one of intent and principle. Do we choose politically to be innovators?

    If Europe dropped its mission to innovate, the blame would lie not with the world but with ourselves. But if we choose to hold to the innovator’s path, we can succeed: and in doing so, we shall innovate our way to social inclusion and sustainability as well as to productivity, growth and jobs.

    This note’s purpose is to clarify what is at stake and make the case for a renewed commitment to innovative Europe.

    Issue 14
    30 June 2016
    Innovation is an essential element of the internal market. Defined by the objective of a “highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment” (Article 3 (3) TEU), innovation is a precondition of “sustainable and job-creating growth”.1 It leads to higher productivity and competitiveness2 while yielding social and environmental benefits.
    Skills and Resilience for a World of Change
    Issue 13
    10 June 2016
    Work glues societies together. It translates talent into broader economic virtue and lends meaning as well as structure to most people’s lives. Yet, tectonic shifts are re-shaping the ways that work is performed.
    Bolstering the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Response
    Issue 12
    20 April 2016
    ‘There is no freedom without security,’ Wilhelm von Humboldt famously said. The terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, just as the earlier ones in Madrid and London, were a brutal reminder that central pillars of the EU, such as the ‘area of freedom, security and justice’, are being challenged. That is why the time is ripe for a genuine ‘Security Union’.
    Maximising its Potential
    Issue 11
    6 April 2016
    This strategic note highlights the success of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in addressing the "investment gap" that the EU faces. The note also suggests possible ways in which EFSI could evolve as a tool. These are grouped under three blocks: 1) a sectorial extension of EFSI, 2) an increase in EFSI's size, and 3) making EFSI a permanent addition to the funding options of the EU.
    Article 42(7) TEU: Orchestrating Our Response to New Threats
    Issue 10
    22 December 2015
    The EU’s very own collective defence clause, long deemed irrelevant, has come to life. This adds a new political dimension to security discussions in Europe, from the Baltics to Cyprus. It must now revitalise European political solidarity and make collective security the cornerstone of the EU’s adaptation to an increasingly threatening international landscape.
    Game Changers for European Climate Strategy
    Issue 9
    25 November 2015
    The negotiations ahead of the Paris climate conference enter into a critical phase at a dramatic time -- the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Paris. The EU can make a difference in paving the way for an ambitious global deal at the COP21 while building momentum towards a paradigm shift towards a low-carbon economy.
    Valletta and Beyond
    Issue 8
    11 November 2015
    The EU's efforts to strengthen the cooperation on migration with African partners take place against the background of fundamental changes on Europe's 'twin continent'. it's time for a paradigm shift on human development and mobility.
    Taking the Single Market into the 21st Century
    Issue 7
    6 October 2015
    Future historians may well look at our time as equally determinant in redesigning the economic rules of the game as the 19th century industrial revolution.
    From Indicators and Targets to Performance and Delivery
    Issue 6
    30 September 2015
    Now that the recovery is strenghtening, Europe 2020 is an opportunity to rediscover the future, by ensuring that day-to-day policy making is aligned with this Commission’s objective to pursue upward convergence and long-term drivers of growth.
    Towards Convergence and Resilience
    Issue 5
    18 June 2015
    In advanced economies, which base their prosperity on productivity growth and innovative prowess, social and economic performance are two sides of the same coin. Modern social policy must be both about enabling people to make the most out of their talent as well as ensuring equity in opportunity.
    Defence Integration as a Response to Europe’s Strategic Moment
    Issue 4
    15 June 2015
    An increasingly unstable neighbourhood, a changing geopolitical environment and shrinking national defence budgets pose massive challenges to Europe’s security. Intensified military cooperation is widely accepted as the best solution for Europe’s defence – yet the current system fails to deliver.
    How Integration into the EU Framework can Give New Momentum for Structural Reforms in the Euro Area
    Issue 3
    8 May 2015
    The Euro Plus Pact addressed key policy areas but it largely failed to incentivise structural reforms across the board and over time. Nonetheless, many Member States have undertaken significant reform efforts in past years, prompted primarily by market pressure. The overriding challenge is how to rekindle the appetite for these reforms that remain necessary now that intense market scrutiny has abated.
    From Stop-Gap Solutions to a Future-Proof Policy
    Issue 2
    30 April 2015
    Migratory flows have never been bigger and they are forecast to double in the next 35 years. Europe will be a top destination for migrants, with or without a legal migration system in place. It is therefore in Europe’s self-interest to manage that inflow and root it in the formal economy.
    A New Multilateral Financial Institution or a Vehicle for China’s Geostrategic Goals
    Issue 1
    24 April 2015
    Starting with a capital base of $100 billion – more than twice as large as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has the potential to be a game changer in multilateral development finance.
  • Five Presidents' Report

    • Five Presidents' Report Series

      Regaining Citizens’ Trust, Safeguarding Banks’ Stability
      Issue 1
      9 November 2015
      A common deposit insurance scheme, on the other hand, would increase resilience against future crises. Consequently, the Five Presidents’ Report proposed setting up a European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) as the third pillar of a fully-fledged Banking Union, alongside bank supervision and resolution.
      Strengthening the EU’s Financial System
      Issue 2
      9 November 2015
      One of the key aspects of the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) is the creation of a Single Resolution Fund (SRF), financed by bank contributions. In the initial phase, the Fund is composed of ‘national compartments’, which will be merged after a transitional period of eight years.
      Severing the ‘Doom Loop’
      Issue 3
      9 November 2015
      There are several questions still to be addressed in the full implementation of the agreed Banking Union actions. This remains a source of potential vulnerability that so far has not been addressed by the many reforms of the euro area or the banking legislation. This note explores possible ways to deal with the situation.
    • Background Notes on Completing the EMU

      These thematic Background Notes aim at intellectualy accompanying the EU-wide outreach effort on the next phase of deepening the Economic and Monetary Union, a key element of the Five Presidents' Report on Completing Europe's Economic and Monetary Union.

      To contribute to the debate, please send your comments and opinions to

      What, Why and How?
      Background Note
      2 March 2016
      ‘Economic governance’ is a concept that combines the principles and architecture of economic policymaking with the institutions and practices that shape the evolution of an economy…
      How to Foster Convergence in and among EMU Economies?
      Background Note
      2 March 2016
      In the EU and euro area contexts, ‘convergence’ usually refers to the progressive approximation of poorer Members States to richer ones in terms of economic and social performance…
      How Can Democratic Legitimacy of Policies Be Reinforced?
      Background Note
      2 March 2016
      According to the basic legal Treaties of the European Union, the European principle of democracy is based on the concept of dual legitimacy
      External Representation of the Euro Area
      Background Note
      2 March 2016
      The consolidation of the external representation of the euro area would enable its members to coordinate positions and defend their shared interests more effectively…