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What will be the key societal challenges that the EU will need to address within the next two decades? Building on an evidence base provided by a review of literature, data and insights from over 200 international experts from academia, think tanks, policy and the private sector, this report explores evidence and uncertainties underpinning global societal trends and the challenges they provide for policymakers. The report analyses trends under the following themes: income equality and global middle class; a globally expanding and ageing population; employment and the changing labour force; evolving patterns and impacts of migration; and the potential of connected societies for empowering individuals. Commissioned on behalf of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), the goal behind this research effort is to help put in place a lasting framework to assess salient global trends. With this foundation, the report concludes that there are a number of salient policy challenges clustered around three themes: 1) Investing in citizens: Equipping EU citizens with the tools to seize opportunities and protect the most vulnerable; 2) Preparing for a new growth paradigm: Focusing on wellbeing beyond productivity growth and enabling businesses to compete globally and in the internal market; and 3) Reinventing government: Recalibrating the public sector machinery and services to accommodate the realities of the 21st century. Some trends and challenges are much more uncertain however. The report suggests that the EU should increase its own resilience, limit vulnerability to the most unpredictable trends, and better define and enact policy responses.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Global societal trends

  • Chapter Three

    Cross-cutting drivers of societal trends

  • Chapter Four

    What does this mean for the EU?

  • Chapter Five

    From strategic analysis to strategic action

  • Appendix A

    Experts consulted

Research conducted by

RAND Europe was commissioned to produce the Trend Report on "Europe's Societal Challenges" by the European Commission at the request of an inter-institutional task force, with full respect for the intellectual independence of RAND Europe.

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