Monday

22nd Jul 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.

Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules

Only half of EU staff claim good knowledge of their workplace's ethics rules, while 82 percent of staff at the European Parliament have never attended any ethics trainings, according to a report by the European Court of Auditors.

Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency

Appalled over Coca-Cola sponsoring the recent Romanian EU presidency, MEPs have asked Finland, the new holders of the rotating post, to put an end to such practices. But Helsinki, whose presidency is sponsored by BMW, has no such plan.

EU commission has first-ever woman president

Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday obtained a narrow majority of support in the European Parliament to become the first-ever female president of the European Commission.

Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post

European Commission presidential-hopeful Ursula von Der Leyen delivered her key appeal in the European Parliament to secure the post. Her appeal appeared to appease most of the political groups - but a lack of specifics, and opposition from Greens remain.

Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again

Poland's former prime minister, Beata Szydlo, has cried foul after failing to get an EP committee chair a second time, in a fiasco which could spell trouble for the European Commission presidency vote on Tuesday.

Anti-separatist Spanish MEPs dominate liberty committee

The European Parliament's powerful civil liberties committee (Libe) has elected anti-separatist Spanish MEPs for its chair and vice-chair positions. The issue risks complicating efforts by pro-Catalan factions to have the debate on independence raised to the EU level.

News in Brief

  1. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  2. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  3. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  4. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  5. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  6. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  7. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal
  8. Commission fines US chipmaker for second time

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. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us