Global Societal Trends and the EU: An ESPAS Expert Seminar

globe and sun

What are the biggest societal challenges for Europe in the next two decades and how should the EU prepare for them? These formed the central two questions of an expert seminar held in Brussels on 17th September 2013.

The event brought together a selected group of researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders to address these questions in a range of thematic areas. At the outset, researchers from RAND Europe presented the findings of a study on future societal trends and their impact on the EU over the next 20 years, commissioned by the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA).

This strategic foresight study is part of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) setup to develop a lasting framework to assess global trends and to develop policy responses across EU institutions over the next institutional cycle.

The seminar was organised around three break-out sessions:

Employment & Equality

Covers employment trends, the future of work and the work space, poverty, income inequality between and within countries, and the emergence of a global middle class and their potential consequences for societal unrest.

Population & Migration

Covers demographic trends, such as population growth and ageing and its societal consequences, changes in living arrangements and family structures, and trends migration.

Citizens & Society

Covers the changing roles between the individual, society, and the state, including the potential for and impacts of social innovation, transformations in education, new technologies and media on democracy and empowerment of the individual.

Speakers and panelists included:

  • Klaus Welle, Secretary-General, European Parliament
  • Eva Despersen, UNDP
  • Dr. Erika Mezger, Eurofound
  • Jayshree Sengupta, Observer Research Foundation
  • Ali Hersi, SID Regional Office for Eastern Africa
  • Stephen Barnett, European Social Network
  • Dr. Jakub Bijak, University of Southampton
  • Prof. Peter S. Heller, Williams College, formerly International Monetary Fund
  • Elizabeth Collett, Migration Policy Institute Europe
  • Eliot Salant, IBM Research - Haifa
  • Dr. Nick Anstead, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Prof. Caroline Haythornthwaite, University of British Columbia

Seminar proceedings informed RAND Europe's study commissioned by BEPA, while also offering insights on policy challenges that may emerge as a result of the trends explored.

For more information on the event, please contact Eanna Kelly (