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Forward looking activities

Forward looking activities (mostly foresight and forecast but also technology assessment and horizon scanning) have a large scope and can be used for several purposes:

  • to inspire new EU policies
  • to assess policies and measures
  • to anticipate potential disruptive events
  • to build contrasted visions of the future

Thanks to different methodologies (modelling, Delphi, technological roadmaps, scenario approach, participatory workshops, new indicators) both wide socio-political issues like globalisation, migrations and employment for example, and specific techno-economic issues such as greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, consequences of ageing and technological choices can be evaluated. The advantages and disadvantages, the benefits and costs of different political, economic, social or technological options as well as their economic, social and environmental impacts can be estimated.

A Forward looking exercise is not a purely theoretical exercise. It has a practical scope and it involves both experts and potential users. It may allow to better anticipate the future (cf. Foresight), to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific measure (cf. Forecasting) and/or to answer to a specific techno-economic or societal problem (cf. Policy messages).

Forward looking activities have a long tradition at the European Commission. Several Directorate Generals have the competencies or get studies that allow them to better seize the challenges of the future. The European Union Research 7th Framework Programme (FP7) integrates Forward looking activities including Foresight within the thematic field "Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities" (SSH).

European FLA activities (6.6MBPDF icon)

FLA can be performed through several ways:

  1. European research projects covering general or sectorial issues

  2. The integration of Forward looking activities in the large scale integrating projects funded by the seventh Framework programme (FP7)

  3. The European Technology Platforms and the Social Platforms -

  4. The European Commission Expert Groups -

Among the European Forward looking activities with a general character, it is worthwhile mentioning: