Maritime transport plays an essential role in the European economy, transporting 75% of its external trade. Yet, as the EU strives to move towards a climate-neutral economy that acts in harmony with the environment, the sector must play its part in the transition.
As global warming causes the Central Arctic Ocean’s ice to melt at an unprecedented rate, never has the region’s importance for human and planetary survival been clearer. But the changing Arctic environment is also opening lucrative new opportunities for resource extraction, transport and connectivity, attracting a whole host of new actors, with the potential to aggravate environmental fallout and to turn the region into a geopolitical hotspot.
In the 21st century, those who control digital technologies are increasingly able to influence economic, societal and political outcomes. In this context, the growing ‘geopoliticisation’ of technology implies a paradigm change for the notion of strategic autonomy.
Towards a European Strategy for Human-Centric Machines
Deployed wisely, AI holds the promise of addressing some of the world’s most intractable challenges. But the significance of its positive impact is mirrored by its likely destabilising effects on some aspects of economic and social life. Our paper explores the opportunities and ethical challenges that come with AI and focuses on how Europe can sharpen its competitive edge vis-à-vis other leading economies, such as the United States and China.
From the proliferation of terrorism in European cities to the use of cyberattacks to disrupt critical infrastructures and destabilise democracies, modern-day threats stem both from within the EU’s borders and outside, challenging the traditional boundaries of security and defence. The increasing versatility and cross-border nature of these threats mean that the EU has a unique added value in providing Europeans with a stronger collective security. Although some progress towards a more joined-up approach to defence and security has already been made, the scale and versatility of the challenges warrant more forward-looking and ambitious measures.
Digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence are driving economic and societal changes of unprecedented pace and scale. To better respond to the needs of its businesses and citizens’ and to keep up with the rapidly-growing tech giants around the world, Europe must come together and actively play on its key assets – a strong reputation for quality and safety, a leading research community, and a prominent positioning in favour of protection of personal data and fundamental rights and liberties.
Filling the Pensions Gap and Refinancing the Economy
Voluntary private pension products can play a central role in helping pensioners to maintain an adequate level of income as Member States implement far-reaching reforms to mitigate the impact of ageing populations. However, too few Europeans are investing in such schemes. This is in large part due to the EU internal market’s limited ability to deliver cost-efficient and transparent private pension products. The creation of a pan-European pension product would entail significant benefits for future pensioners, while also opening up an important new source of long-term capital to boost the EU’s growth potential.
The United States' unilateral decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change provides the EU with a unique window of opportunity to take the global lead on sustainable finance and position itself as the investment destination for low-carbon technologies. Seizing this opportunity will be crucial to ensuring the EU’s long-term competitiveness. But it can only be achieved through a fundamental remodelling of the financial system. Obstacles and market failures throughout the investment chain must be addressed to achieve a more future-friendly capital allocation.
Cyberattacks are already occurring on a daily basis – in some cases even recognised as state-sponsored. Such aggressions are likely to be used with greater intensity and accuracy in the future – moving ever closer to the sphere of cyber wars. In this rapidly evolving context, the Union and its Member States need to anticipate and plan for extreme scenarios. Scaling up Europe’s cyber capabilities and furthering EU-wide cooperation is a major priority.
A strong, stable and prosperous Africa is not only vital for Africans, it is essential for Europe. Cooperation between the two continents is hardly new and a lot of progress has been made, but Africa and Europe can and must go much further together.
Too much of the African continent is still plagued by a lack of decent basic infrastructures, slow growth, extreme poverty, pandemics, droughts, civil wars, terrorism and poor governance.
But Africa also has abundant resources – its most precious being its young, rapidly-growing population. Hand in hand with Africa’s youth, African and EU leaders must develop transformative joint solutions to make the most of their partnership and adapt it to today’s realities.