Strategic Foresight and EU policy-making

Embedding strategic foresight into the EU policy-making will enable the European Commission to:

  • build and use collective intelligence to anticipate developments and prepare for new opportunities and challenges earlier and more effectively;
  • ensure strategic foresight becomes an integral part of the Better Regulation toolbox, including ex ante impact assessments, and supports the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme;
  • undertake in-depth and participatory foresight exercises on major initiatives aimed at informing the annual State of the Union address, Commission Work Programmes and multi-annual programming exercises;
  • foster foresight cooperation and alliances with EU institutions and partners, Member States and other key stakeholders.

Resilience as a new compass for EU policies

The COVID-19 crisis has made clear that Europe needs to enhance its resilience – which is the ability not only to withstand and cope with challenges but also to undergo transitions in a sustainable, fair and democratic manner. This Communication shows how forward-looking policies supported by strategic foresight will contribute to this.

Strategic foresight can inform resilience-enhancing policies across four dimensions. It can help anticipate developments likely to have adverse impacts, to strengthen corresponding resilience through structural changes as well as taking into account the impact of current and future crises on relevant megatrends and emerging issues. Policies benefiting from strategic foresight can better mitigate the vulnerabilities and strengthen the capacities revealed by the crisis, opening new opportunities and making Europe more resilient.

Key findings

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Social and economic resilience

The pandemic has deepened inequalities, increased demographic imbalances and poverty, accelerated automation, and had a disproportionate impact on service sector jobs. Strategic foresight can be used to identify the skills for the future that we need to invest in now, and for having a larger societal conversation about updating the social and fiscal contract.

doors opening on a digital scenario

Geopolitical resilience

The crisis has highlighted the EU’s over-reliance on third countries for critical raw materials crucial in key technologies needed to achieve a carbon-neutral and digital society. Strategic foresight can help identify possible scenarios and define strategic options to boost the EU’s open strategic autonomy.

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Green resilience

A shift to a greener economy could create 24 million new jobs globally and its impact in the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis could be significantly larger than previously thought. Strategic foresight can help us explore the drivers of change, understand the future structural shift in the labour market and guide a reskilling of people who have lost their jobs during the crisis or who are likely to in the future due to technological developments and automation.

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Digital resilience

The crisis has accelerated hyper-connectivity and the integration of new technologies affecting the human condition and the way we live. Strategic foresight can help us anticipate how key emerging technologies could develop, their impact on all spheres of life, and ways to seize upcoming opportunities.

Strategic Foresight Agenda

The 2020 Strategic Foresight Report shows that action-driven strategic foresight is uniquely suited to inform decision-makers to drive the twin transitions and strengthen the EU’s resilience. For this purpose, this Communication presents as next steps:

  • Prototype resilience dashboards as an example of a way of monitoring resilience. The prototype dashboards will be further developed and co-created in exploratory discussions with Member States and other key stakeholders. The focus of this work will be on the medium-to-long-term, to give the best conditions for foresight-informed policies to mitigate vulnerabilities and strengthen capacities.
  • the Commission Strategic Foresight Agenda, supporting overarching political priorities. It will include ad-hoc foresight exercises to inform major initiatives planned in the Commission Work Programme as well as crosscutting issues identified as high impact. Examples could include: Open strategic autonomy, the future of green jobs and skills, and deepening the twinning of the green and digital transitions across all policies and strategies
  • the annual ESPAS conference, planned for November 2020. The Commission will use this opportunity to discuss the topic of next year’s Strategic Foresight Report. The Commission also plans to use the ESPAS conference to launch an EU-wide Foresight Network with Member State public foresight capabilities, think tanks, academia, industry stakeholders and civil society
  • Foresight scenarios to inform future policy debate, to ensure coherence across policies, and to serve as a shared, forward‑looking framework for policy proposals. These scenarios will help identify potential pathways for the twin transition. This exercise can also contribute to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Next steps

  • The annual European Strategy and Political Analysis System (ESPAS) conference
  • Further development of resilience dashboards
  • 2021 Annual Strategic Foresight Report
  • Implementation of a Strategic Foresight Agenda

Contact

For any enquiries, please contact us at SG-FORESIGHT@ec.europa.eu; JRC-FORESIGHT@ec.europa.eu

Documents

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Accompanying technical papers

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