EU Science Hub

Foresight and Horizon scanning

The JRC relies on foresight and horizon scanning to look into the longer-term impact of policies and technologies and anticipate emerging societal challenges.

Foresight explores the future of scientific and technological achievements and their potential impacts on society. It aims to identify the areas of scientific research and technological development most likely to bring about change and drive economic, environmental and social benefits for the future.

Foresight studies at the JRC identify and analyse societal challenges that have implications on research and EU policies in extended period of time - from five to thirty years. They follow a defined methodological approach based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and techniques (e.g. scenario analysis, trend analysis, etc.). They are highly participatory, engaging experts from different backgrounds as well as stakeholders from the European Commission's policy Directorates-General (DGs), industry, industrial associations, research organisations, universities and NGOs. The topics selected for the foresight studies are identified through high level political priorities or together with client DGs.

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JRC's ForLearn research project aimed at consolidating and improving accessibility to foresight knowledge and know-how throughout Europe. It developed an online foresight guide, a major resource to understand and carry out foresight. An updated version is foreseen for 2015.

Horizon scanning entails the gathering of information on emerging issues and trends across the policy spectrum in the political, economic, social, technological and environmental setting. It looks further into the future than the timeframe of already planned activities.

Since 2004, the JRC has organised four future-oriented technology analysis (FTA) conferences aimed at developing communities of foresight, forecasting and technology assessment, where experts interact and help in guiding strategy, policy and decision-making to anticipate and shape future developments. For more information on the FTA 2014 conference, please visit our dedicated event website.

More information:

European Foresight Platform

Forward looking activities

Forward Visions on the European Research Area (VERA)

European Stratgey and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS)