Thursday

23rd May 2019

Europe a 'hobbled giant' by 2025, US intelligence report predicts

  • The EU will have completed its institutional reforms, but will remain weak on the world stage, warns the NIC (Photo: EUobserver)

By 2025, the European Union will be a "hobbled giant" crippled by internal bickering and a eurosceptic citizenry. Eastern European organised crime could dominate one or more member state governments, and the bloc will likely be kowtowing to Moscow after having failed at all attempts to wean itself from Russian energy supplies.

This is the rosy view for Europe's future mapped out by the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC), Washington's main intelligence body. This agency of agencies, formed in 1979, brings together analysis from each of America's multiple intelligence organisations to develop mid- to long-term strategic thinking for the country's security community.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Every four years, the NIC peers into its crystal ball and produces a global trends review - a prediction of what the world will look like in around 15 years' time.

This year's report, Global Trends 2025: A World Transformed, foresees the EU in 2025 as likely having completed its institutional reforms and consolidated itself as a political entity, but infighting between member states with competing domestic interests and a European public alienated by a perceived democratic deficit will leave it a "hobbled giant", with massive economic heft but little genuine international power.

"Europe by 2025 will have made slow progress toward achieving the vision of current leaders and elites: a cohesive, integrated, and influential global actor," it begins optimistically, while declaring that the EU will at the same time not be a major military player.

However, it goes on to warn: "The European Union would need to resolve a perceived democracy gap dividing Brussels from European voters and move past the protracted debate about its institutional structures."

"Continued failure to convince sceptical publics of the benefits of deeper economic, political, and social integration ... could leave the EU a hobbled giant distracted by internal bickering and competing national agendas, and less able to translate its economic clout into global influence," worry the authors of the report.

The trends report also envisages Europe's public services and welfare system threatened by the expense of paying for retiring baby-boomers.

"The drop-off in working-age populations will prove a severe test for Europe's social welfare model, a foundation stone of Western Europe's political cohesion since World War II."

Aging populations will force "more dramatic changes" when Europe hits a crisis point in trying to fix its "demographic deficit", with the report diagnosing cutbacks to healthcare and pensions as the only solution.

The document goes on to say that integrating immigrants, particularly from Muslim backgrounds will become an acute challenge in a difficult economic climate and frets about Europeans "resort[ing] to narrow nationalism ... as happened in the past."

Moreover, the question of Turkey's ultimate EU membership will be "a test of Europe's outward focus between now and 2025. Increasing doubts about Turkey's chances are likely to slow its implementation of political and human rights reforms."

"Any outright rejection risks wider repercussions, reinforcing arguments in the Muslim world - including among Europe's Muslim minorities - about the incompatibility of the West and Islam."

Organised crime

All the bloc's efforts to diversify its sources of energy, away from Russia. will likely amount to little.

"Europe will remain heavily dependent on Russia for energy in 2025, despite efforts to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions."

This continued dependence "will foster constant attentiveness to Moscow's interests by key countries, including Germany and Italy, who see Russia as a reliable supplier" and could endanger the union "if Russian firms are unable to full fill contract commitments because of underinvestment in their natural gas fields or if growing corruption and organised criminal involvement in the Eurasian energy sector spill over to infect Western business interests."

Indeed, organised crime is the dark heart of this European dystopia, with the report describing the already substantial problem as the continent's largest concern.

"Crime could be the gravest threat inside Europe as Eurasian transnational organisations - flush from involvement in energy and mineral concerns - become more powerful and broaden their scope."

Peering into the abyss, the report even foresees the takeover of a member state by such forces.

"One or more governments in eastern or central Europe could fall prey to their domination," the authors believe.

Analysis

Sibiu: EU leaders prepare post-Brexit show of unity

With the European elections just three weeks away, the EU-27 will try to set the agenda for the next years for the EU institutions. But with persisting divisions on key issues, unity will be an achievement in itself.

Exclusive

Ombudsman backs EUobserver on MEP expenses

The European Parliament should have granted access to documents on a decision about how transparent MEPs should be in future with their office expenses, says EU Ombudsman.

EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

EU institutions want Facebook to relax its rules, to allow pan-European political groups to carry out EU-wide campaigns. Facebook has yet to implement the demands - posing questions on the extent to which Europe relies on the US tech firm.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  2. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  3. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  4. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  5. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  6. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  7. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  8. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us