The Foresight Conference on War and the Future of Europe organized by Visegrad Insight, which is the main Central European platform of debate and analysis that generates future policy directions for Europe and transatlantic partners took place on 15-16 September 2022 in Warsaw.
During the conference, the report prepared by Visegrad Insight was discussed in detail. It contains four different scenarios which map out how European democratic security will be challenged by 2030 and how to prepare for it. This is how the authors of the report summarize the developed scenarios:
Scenario 1: Losing Strategic Autonomy
The reluctance of Central and Eastern European countries to upgrade decision-making procedures in the European Union is driven by a fear of being dominated by the leading powers in the block. Their bias is further confirmed by a less-than-declared level of support for Ukraine. Eventually, this attitude backfires and leads to an increased vulnerability of Europe – and the CEE region in particular – to external influences. Europe loses its window of opportunity to build up its long-term resilience towards Russia and requires a continuous strong presence of the US in NATO’s Eastern Flank. Hence the EU becomes more of a pawn than an actor in the ongoing global power struggle.
Scenario 2: United European Patchwork
In the ongoing decade, Europe needs Britain in security, and London seeks to reverse the negative economic impact of the divorce. It is the grounds for moving the reversal of some critical elements of Brexit. Defence and foreign policy are the drivers of change, while Germany’s economic strategy changes to prioritise energy independence and new industrial challenges. Britain wants to be part of the EU’s defence build-up project while Central Europe moves towards eurozone integration when the subsequent enlargement is imminent. It sets the stage for the EU reinvigorated by the ‘new Europe’ within a decade.
Scenario 3: The European Demographic Deal
The socio-economic challenges of maintaining European prosperity and peace converge with prolonged attacks by Russia on Ukraine and the unyielding support of the West. Taking bold steps to increase European industrial potential to enable further defence buildup, the EU must reckon with growing nationalist sentiments streaming primarily from demographic fears of ageing and dependent segments of the society across the block. To mitigate related risks, the EU launches new ambitious programming to address welfare anxieties and set up a new social peace.
Scenario 4: Careful What EU Wish For
After the EU opens a treaty change process to address a desire for more democratic legitimacy, a new transnational political movement originating in Central Europe builds up across several countries of the European Union. It exploits some of its institutional flows while climbing to the top of the power structure of the block. Built on the disenfranchised generation’s resentments, it transforms the EU’s participatory mechanisms into self-defeating tools of disruption. By the decade’s end, it fundamentally imperils the EU’s goal of building up democratic security as it turns its institutional strength against itself.