Archive for the ‘until 2035’ Category

EFP Brief No. 225: FESTOS – Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

New technologies can improve our quality of life greatly, but they may also have a “dark side”. The objectives of FESTOS were to identify and assess evolving security threats posed by the potential abuse of emerging technologies and new scientific knowledge, on the one hand, and propose means to reduce the likelihood of such threats, on the other. Looking ahead to the year 2030, this foresight study scanned the horizon of different fields of technology. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the context of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge.

Emerging Technologies
Pose New Threats to Security

The FESTOS project (Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies) identified and assessed evolving security threats caused by the abuse or inadequate use of emerging technologies and areas of applied research. Looking ahead to the year 2035, FESTOS scanned the horizon of fields such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, new materials, and information technology, as well as capabilities that might emerge from converging technologies.

FESTOS identified and evaluated these potential threats on the horizon. Based on this scanning, FESTOS stimulated “out of the box”, forward-looking thinking and constructed “threat scenarios”. Finally, FESTOS recommended policy guidelines designed to minimise the probability of these evolving security threats materialising. Possible means of prevention and policy measures were studied in the light of trade-offs between security needs and the freedom of research and knowledge while taking into account shifts in the public perception of threats and related security issues.

Three Pillars of the Project

FESTOS had three pillars:

  1. To identify new, potentially threatening technologies.
  2. To assess emerging threats and – based on a selected set of potential threats – to construct scenarios with appropriate early-warning indicators.
  3. To draft preparatory measures and policy guidelines.

As all foresight studies, FESTOS did not aim to predict the future. Instead, the project sought to raise awareness and initiate a debate among and between scientists and policy-makers about the possible “dark sides” of future technologies.

Technology Scanning

The FESTOS team carried out a horizon scanning of emerging technologies that might pose security threats in the future if these technologies are abused. Furthermore, an assessment of the potential threats was carried out. The first result was a structured description of around 80 “potentially threatening” technologies in the six fields listed above. The next step was to evaluate the threat aspects of 33 selected technologies by means of an international expert survey in which 280 experts participated. The collection of technologies was not intended to be exhaustive but to stimulate further discussions and provide a basis for the subsequent analysis. As such, it can serve as a “dynamic data bank” of potentially “abusable” technologies.

Determining the Nature and Severity of Threats

Subsequently, the results of the expert survey were analysed in terms of the likely time spans for the threats to materialise, prioritisation (relative impact of each technology), the nature and extent of the potential damages, as well as societal issues. This activity included ranking and selecting security threats for scenario construction. In methodological terms, the exercise included expert brainstorming sessions, a security assessment (including Ansoff filters and the STEEPV method), an analysis of the relevant signals of change and wild cards.

Scenario Development

Four narrative scenarios based on the identified security threats from emerging technologies were developed. The aim of the scenarios was to depict possible futures that take into account the social dimension and the interdependency of different impacts. In a scenario workshop, five methods and procedures were used: wild cards, security climates, futures wheel, security café for impact analysis and brainstorming.

Control and Prevention

The possible control of scientific knowledge to prevent unintended new security threats is a very sensitive issue in open democratic societies. FESTOS raised a debate on whether and how to control emerging science and technology developments in order to prevent abuse without slowing down the process of knowledge creation needed for innovation, progress and improving human life. Secondly, FESTOS analysed the problematic issue of controlled dissemination of scientific knowledge in the light of the inevitable trade-offs between security and freedom of research and knowledge creation. The methods used were an online survey of approximately 100 selected experts and representatives from various parts of society, followed by 5-10 semi structured in-depth interviews in each of the participating countries (Poland, Germany, Finland, UK and Israel) with selected key actors representing civil society and other relevant organisations, and, finally, an international workshop on control and prevention, with the participation of invited experts and representatives.


 Top Technology Threats and Threat Scenarios

Three Types of Potential Threats

Examination of the diverse technologies led to identifying three broad categories of potential threats: The first category is the disruption of certain technological applications for malicious purposes (for example, jamming communications in intelligent collision avoidance systems in transportation). The second category concerns the increased availability of technologies that once were confined to the military or to unique, heavily funded laboratories and were prohibitively expensive. The third category concerns surprising malicious uses of new technologies developed for completely different, beneficial and civilian purposes. The most interesting for FESTOS seemed to be the third category, where we found the most unexpected threats, signals of change or surprising “wild cards”.

Ten New Top Priority Threats

The threat analysis resulted in a prioritisation of the threatening technologies with respect to their potential for malicious use (combining the easiness of putting them to malicious use and the severity of the threat). The resulting top ten technologies are:

  1. Smart mobile phone mash-ups
  2. Internet of things (IoT)
  3. Cloud computing
  4. New gene transfer technologies
  5. Advanced artificial intelligence
  6. Synthetic biology
  7. Cyborg insects
  8. Energetic nanomaterials
  9. Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  10. Autonomous & semi-autonomous mini robots

Furthermore, the intensity of the potential threat (i.e. the overall threat to several spheres of society according to the experts) posed by the ten most relevant technologies was prioritised:

  1. Advanced artificial intelligence
  2. Human enhancement
  3. Swarm robotics
  4. Cyborg insects
  5. Internet of things (IoT)
  6. Water-catalysing explosive reactions
  7. Future fuels and materials for nuclear technologies
  8. AI-based robot-human interaction
  9. Cloud computing
  10. Programmable matter

For the time scale 2015 – 2020, the following potential “wild card technologies” were identified (i.e. technologies with high severity threats and a low likelihood of actual abuse): swarm robotics, brain implants, water-catalysing explosive reactions, future fuels, self-replicating nano-assemblers, medical nano-robots, ultra-dense data storage, meta-materials with negative light refraction index and synthetic biology.

Four Scenarios for Threat Assessment

Four narrative scenarios for threat assessment and identification of indicators were produced:

Scenario 1: Cyber-insects Attack!

Swarms of cyber-insects attack people and animals.

Scenario 2: The Genetic Blackmailers

Individual DNA is misused for purposes of extortion.

Scenario 3: At the Flea Market

Intelligent everyday nanotechnology-based products can be set to self-destruct, which is triggered by a wireless signal.

Scenario 4: We’ll Change Your Mind…

A terrorist group uses a virus to change the behaviour of a portion of the population for a certain period of time.

Conflict between Security and Freedom of Research

With the aid of the expert survey and the interviews, the FESTOS team assessed the respondents’ perceptions of the awareness, acceptance and effectiveness of control and prevention measures. The results show that control and prevention measures exist, mostly in the fields of ICT and biotechnology. On the basis of the national reports on the participating countries’ security institutions, we can say that the main institutions engaged in control activities are governments, ministries and security agencies. Most of the control measures have a high or very high impact on scientific knowledge, especially the freedom of science, knowledge creation and dissemination. The experts consider media, including the Internet, to be a dangerous channel of dissemination. By contrast, the most accepted control measures are

  1. education curricula including programmes aiming to raise the awareness of potential threats,
  2. measures invented by the knowledge producer and
  3. measures developed by the media to limit the publication of sensitive knowledge.

Codes of conduct, internal guidelines (bottom-up approach) and legal regulations are perceived as the most effective control measures.


Policy Conclusions

Continuation of Horizon Scanning of Emerging Technologies

There is a need for networking, international cooperation and broader expert panels to evaluate emerging technologies continuously with respect to possible unintended effects relevant to security. More detailed technological evaluations are required in the short-term, and it was suggested that at least sixty to eighty technologies need to be evaluated. FESTOS provides a starting point to cover all the risks and work towards a EU risk strategy in different areas of science and technology. In addition, there is a need to cooperate much closer with the EU patent office and with patent agencies around the world. It is furthermore very important to secure financing in Horizon2020 to allow continuing the horizon scanning work carried out in FESTOS.

Academic Freedom in Democratic Societies and “Knowledge Control”

There is a tension between possible security dangers of technology R&D and academic freedom, and there seem to be only two “stronger” control measures that academics are willing to accept: internal guidelines in research organisations and codes of conduct. Codes of conduct are the preferred control mechanism in R&D.

Ethical Control and Codes of Conduct

Since science and technology is globalised and develops at a fast pace, we can only have ethical control if there are international codes of conduct, to be developed by international organisations. Scientists need to understand the consequences of their research, and this needs to be handled at an international level. There seems to be a difference between democratic and non-democratic countries in this respect. In democratic countries, there is less of a threat that scientists might develop technologies that will be misused. In societies that are more closed and lack democratic institutions, scientists tend to continue their research even if they are aware that their invention might pose a threat to security. In any event, industry has a massive influence, including the ability to effectively lobby for its interests. Some of could focus on safe researcher practices, codes of conduct etc. and assist in the creation of an international “control” environment.

Project Assessment, Social Responsibility and Security by Design

It is highly desirable that the “dark side” is considered at the beginning of projects. Therefore, it is crucial to develop assessment criteria. It is more effective to build in design control measures during the design phases of the research than to turn to ethical assessment after the research is completed. Such an anticipatory approach results in “security by design”.

Networking: the Role of the State and the EU

Another critical element is “networking and networks”, which will be very important in the future. This aspect concerns how scientific organisations are networked to produce results for society. All innovations are based on knowledge, and we must develop knowledge-management systems to manage the dark sides as well. This requires an active role of the EU Commission and European Parliament.

The Role of Education

There is a need to educate students as early as possible about threats and security issues during their studies at university. Knowledge about these control dilemmas should be added to the universities’ curricula.

We also need early media training for children since they will encounter a number of challenges as they increasingly navigate an expanding digital universe. Such media proficiency is even more important since the digital universe can be unfamiliar or even unknown to their parents, who are “digital immigrants”.  The future “digital natives” can only cope and shape the digital universe if they are properly informed and know how to protect themselves.

Bottom-up vs. Top-down Approaches of Control

Actors and decision-makers, as they balance security needs, the requirements set by open democratic societies and the freedom of science, should take active measures against the possible dangers of the dark side of technologies. More promising than top-down measures are bottom-up proposals: Instead of legislation and coercive measures with rather questionable outcomes, the FESTOS team proposes to develop soft and optional measures. These measures, first of all, are based on self-regulation, self-control and the education of engineers and scientists. Codes of conduct, ethical guidelines and educational measures may initially be established on sub-state levels but must be developed into national, Europe-wide and global regimes. While self-regulation and education may be the means of choice in most cases, it has to be stressed that there are also exceptional cases, such as weapons of mass destruction, for instance. In these cases, there exist international regimes to regulate the prohibition of research and development of extremely dangerous technologies and, for the most part, the international community complies with the rules. An example is the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.

FESTOS Consortium

The consortium of the project “Foresight of Evolving Security Threats Posed by Emerging Technologies” (FESTOS) consists of the following partners:

Interdisciplinary Centre for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku, Finland

Centre for Technology and Society, Technical University of Berlin (TUB), Germany

Institute of Sociology (IS), University of Lodz, Poland

EFP Consulting (UK) Ltd, UK

Authors: Burkhard Auffermann

Aharon Hauptman

Sponsors: European Union DG Research
Type: European Union foresight
Organizer: ICTAF – Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting,                                             Coordinator: Dr. Yair Sharan,
Duration: 2009 – 2011
Budget: € 824,552
Time Horizon: 2035
Date of Brief: February

Download: EFP-Brief-No.-225-FESTOS

Sources and References


EFP Brief. No. 214: Foresight Security Scenarios: Mapping Research to a Comprehensive Approach to Exogenous EU Roles (FOCUS)

Friday, May 25th, 2012

FOCUS helps shape European security research to enable the EU to effectively respond to tomorrow’s challenges stemming from the globalisation of risks, threats and vulnerabilities. FOCUS concentrates on alternative future EU roles to prevent or respond to incidents situated on the ‘borderline’ between the internal and external dimensions of the security affecting the Union and its citizens. It does so by elaborating multiple scenarios, based on IT-supported foresight, in the form of alternative futures. These are plausibility-probed versus mere threat scenarios.

Foreseeing Exogenous Roles of the ‘EU 2035’ as a Comprehensive Security Provider to its Citizens

Through extrapolating the member states’ prerogative over security on the national scale, the Lisbon Treaty (2009) introduced the concept of the security of the European Union (EU) itself: Based on its new legal personality, the Union now aims ‘to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples’ (Article 3 Treaty on European Union). For the security of the Union and its citizens, it is the Union that ‘shall define and pursue common policies and actions, and shall work for a high degree of cooperation’ (Article 21).

The Lisbon Treaty makes a quantum transition towards harmonisation in the field of civil protection against natural or man-made disasters: The Union ‘shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States’ (Article 196 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).

The Treaty on European Union clearly establishes the Union as a whole as a security provider to its citizens, reaffirming its role as a global actor: ‘In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens’ (Article 3 Treaty on European Union).

Still mirroring the pre-Lisbon Treaty state of play, current practice of security research development in Europe is characterised by national focuses on a limited number of pre-defined missions or parallel scenarios that typically result from an analysis of specific national incidents, requirements or shortcomings. By contrast, FOCUS elaborates foresight-generated multiple scenarios in the form of alternative future tracks of security research topics, approaches and structures to introduce scenario planning from a European perspective and broaden the concept of security research.

The main idea of FOCUS is to develop multiple scenarios that function as common denominators for challenges (involving new tasks) whose causes are external to the territory of the Union, but whose consequences will be experienced on the territory of the Union and EU responses using tangible contributions from security research.

The work of FOCUS assists the EU, its member states, industry and other stakeholders to design a common approach to the contribution of security research to effectively cope with challenges arising from the globalisation of risks, threats and vulnerabilities before they deplete the EU’s ethical and societal legitimacy as a comprehensive security provider for its citizens.

FOCUS Objectives

FOCUS identifies and assesses alternative sets of future tracks for security research in FP7 and subsequent programmes that support the EU to adopt new roles in dealing with external threats, risks and vulnerabilities. The main contribution of the FOCUS project is the development of effective long-term prediction and assessment tools at the EU level.

Overall, FOCUS achieves the following six objectives, building upon each other:

  • Identify alternative sets of future tracks for security research in FP7 and subsequent programmes, supporting EU roles to deal with exogenous threats, risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Elaborate on the concept of transversality in assessing evolving needs for research across traditional disciplines, presently defined mission areas and throughout the security continuum.
  • Design and apply a specific scenario approach (‘embedded scenarios’). Base it on foresight to ensure openness, participation and inclusiveness (e.g. involvement of societal stakeholders), explicitly addressing security perceptions and security in relation to other values.
  • Produce an IT information infrastructure (by adapting existing information technologies) that will make material and tools for scenario planning of security research available to knowledge communities.
  • Enhance transparency, improve understanding and increase preparedness for the emerging challenges of the ‘external dimension’ and the ‘external-internal continuum’ of security and the evolution of security research.
  • Contribute to the planning of security research beyond the European Security Research Advisory Board (ESRAB) and European Security Research and Innovation Forum (ESRIF), based on foreseen EU roles rather than on pre-defined missions.

FOCUS Scenario Level

FOCUS scenarios are on the level of strategic forward thinking ‘on hold’, to increase the ability to cope with alternative futures in the world of 2035. The scenarios neither predict the future, nor do they state normative desired futures or ‘wishful thinking’. They represent the results of the multiple foresights conducted by FOCUS. The level of application of the scenarios is strategic EU roles and strategic levels of research planning. According to the task at hand, the scenarios do not address end-user (such as first responder) postures with a view to specific crisis management missions.

However, FOCUS comprises the exploration of its scenarios foresight approach and products, including the IT-based Knowledge Management Platform, for possible use beyond the immediate scope of the project, thus addressing, end-user posture scenarios.

FOCUS Method

FOCUS conducts foresight on an inclusive basis, making maximum use of its IT support in order to integrate multiple stakeholders, experts from a broad range of fields and the interested public to address security in relation to other societal as well as ethical values. This approach is especially important in the context of scenario planning in order to ensure that the selected policies and security technologies are responsive to the needs of citizens and that they create security approaches rooted in acceptance. FOCUS designs and applies an ‘embedded scenario’ method of integration. This delineates options for future tracks and broadened concepts of security research within broader scenarios that involve EU roles for responding to transversal challenges (whose causes are external but whose effects are internal to the EU).

This task is performed along the following five big themes as derived from environmental scanning and research done in preparation of the project:

  • Comprehensive approach: Alternative future tracks in further developing the comprehensive approach as followed by institutions and states, including links between the internal and external dimension of security.
  • Natural disasters and global environmental change: Scenarios for future EU roles in preparing for and responding to natural disasters and environment-related hazards, focused on comprehensive crisis management.
  • Critical infrastructure and supply chain protection: Scenarios for future EU roles centred on preventing, mitigating and responding to exogenous threats that could have a significant impact on EU citizens.
  • EU as a global actor: Alternative futures of the EU as a global actor based on the ‘wider Petersberg Tasks’, building on EU and member states instruments and capability processes.
  • EU internal framework: Scenarios for the evolution of the EU’s internal framework and prerequisites for delivering a comprehensive approach, including Lisbon treaty provisions and relevant strategies (e.g. for engagement with other international actors) as well as ethical acceptability and public acceptance.

Problem Space Descriptions for FOCUS’ Five Big Themes: EU Challenge 2035

FOCUS foresight is informed by problem space descriptions developed for each of the five big themes, also taking into account results of foresight work conducted in other European and international projects. The problem space descriptions also contain initial results of foresight, in the form of main challenges for future EU roles and supporting security research.

Comprehensive Approach

A comprehensive approach aims at overarching solutions to problems, with broad effects and based on complementarity of actors, while considering all available options and capabilities as well as the normative end-state of the security of society as a whole. A comprehensive approach also entails the tackling of crosscutting issues in home affairs, including civil protection. Challenges in the coming decades will continue to be fraught with uncertainty, involving state and non-state actors combining conventional and asymmetric methods. Cyber threats will also proliferate, with possible capabilities to organise a high-consequence attack against European critical infrastructures. Future research should include an emphasis on the advancement and integration of approaches to foresight, with special consideration of disruptors from normative (desired) end-states. It should also focus on the implementation perspective, with indicators for measuring the effectiveness of the comprehensive approach.

Natural Disasters & Global Environmental Change

Addressing natural hazards, with serious consequences on a regional level, FOCUS centres on major external threats to greater areas (outside and within the European Union) that may shape future roles of the EU as a comprehensive security provider: They can cause humanitarian crises of scales requiring a wide spectrum of responses, as they affect infrastructures and the human environment. Interactions of different hazards, multi-hazards, technological hazards, and the fact that human activity can initiate or influence processes and events will play an increasing role. Future research should act as a catalyst, integrating results from projects on natural hazards and their security aspects. However, this would require enhanced accessibility of previous studies and their results. Improved dissemination strategies will be required. Other topics could be anthropogenic (or ‘man-made’) natural disasters and multi-disciplinary scenarios of maximum credible natural events.

Critical Infrastructure & Supply Chain Protection

The most significant advancement on the EU level has been the introduction of the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP). EPCIP embraces an all-hazards approach, also covering natural disasters and intentional man-made hazards. Effective protection will need binding international and global rules since major infrastructures operate internationally or globally and threats can originate from any place in the world. Policy developments call for support by well-focused EU-level research along three main themes: First, a detailed assessment of interdependencies in the European Critical Infrastructure system, including dependencies on critical infrastructure in third countries; second, a catalogue of critical supplies for the European economy, along with factors that could disrupt supply; third, analyses of how the new mandate from the Lisbon Treaty together with enhanced civilian and dual-use capabilities could change the Union’s role, including interests to protect supplies from the third countries.

The EU as a Global Actor Based on the Wider Petersberg Tasks

The 2008 implementation review of the European Security Strategy (2003) stressed that the Union now disposed of an unmatched repertory of instruments and activities to foster human security and address underlying causes of insecurity and conflict. Based on this, the EU should contribute to renewing multilateralism at the global level. Instruments of EU global roles may include increased justice and law enforcement capabilities; increased EU intelligence and early warning capabilities; financial instruments for influencing economic developments on a global scale; good governance and institution building, including security sectors; or civil society-related and cultural instruments, including media, social networks, etc.

EU Internal Framework

Some of the EU’s vulnerabilities result from the fact that European strategies sometimes do not take into account lacking resources required for their implementation and do not fully consider organisational needs to effectuate awareness and increase resilience. While EU member states agreed on introducing the concept of the security of the Union as a whole into the Lisbon Treaty, both the political and the public sector vary considerably across countries in their perceptions and concepts of security. The concept of security in the EU so far has been the result of Union-level initiatives and national repertories of action. Member states continue to rely on distinguished symbols of what they value and safeguard. There are different public and citizen security cultures, which usually lead to clearly nationally informed priorities. Divergences of such kind notwithstanding, the future concept of security and security research can be expected to be informed by the European Security Model as outlined in the EU Internal Security Strategy. This includes addressing the causes of insecurity and not just its effects, with priorities on prevention across sectors (political, economic, social, etc.).

Towards a FOCUS Roadmap

FOCUS has so far identified the following seven cross-thematic key drivers for future challenges to the EU as a comprehensive civil security provider:

  • Globalisation and international system change
  • Changing modes of governance
  • Changing values and norms
  • Economic and social change
  • Technological change
  • Extent of common threat assessment
  • Consistency and coherence of future security research

Based on the problem space descriptions and the topical and cross-theme drivers identified, FOCUS will now perform in-depth foresight processes. At first, sets of EU roles per big theme will be developed in the form of context scenarios. Following on from this, alternative futures for security research in support of these roles will be constructed and further analysed. This will, among other things, result in a FOCUS roadmap proposal for the planning of future security research within the “Horizon 2020” framework.

FOCUS also establishes working relations with other foresight projects within and outside the EU, such as the ‘Strategic Foresight Initiative’ (SFI) of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Authors: Alexander Siedschlag          

Andrea Jerković                    

Sponsors: European Commission, Directorate General Enterprise and Industry

Research Executive Agency (REA)

Type: 7th EU Framework Programme Security Research project
Organizer: CEUSS | Center for European Security Studies, Sigmund Freud University Vienna
Duration: 2011-2013 Budget: 4.2 m € Time Horizon: 2035 Date of Brief: Mar 2012  


Download EFP Brief No. 214_Foresight Security Scenarios

Sources and References


Summary of FOCUS problem space descriptions,

FOCUS Deliverable 2.1: Report describing and defining the methodology,

FOCUS Deliverable 3.2: Alternative futures of the comprehensive approach,


FOCUS project website:

FOCUS Facebook page:

FUSER group on Xing:

EFP Brief No. 137: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe A Survey of the Literature and a Modelling Approach

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Manufacturing in Europe is facing challenges that may impact on its performance in the near future: the emergence of international competitors, new technologies allowing the emergence of new business models, increased off-shore and relocated activities. The aim of this study was to provide policy-makers with a long-term vision of European manufacturing, its characteristics, its place in the EU economy, in the world and the main challenges it will be facing. Its purpose was to identify, on the basis of current demographic, environmental, technological, economic and social trends, and possible scenarios, the likely bottlenecks, unsustainable trends and major challenges that European manufacturing will have to face over the coming 30 years. From this, implications for various microeconomic policies, notably for industrial policy, were explored, contributing to the mid-term review of industrial policy in 2007 by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.

Future of European Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Europe is affected by a changing world. In 2004, ten countries joined the EU followed by Bulgaria and Rumania in 2007. Most of the new member states have a different economic structure and other comparative advantages than the ‘old’ EU-15, in particular in labour-intensive industries. This is also the case for the candidate countries from the Balkans and Turkey. Enlargement hence not only offers opportunities in terms of a larger domestic EU market, but also in terms of specialisation and – associated – economies of scale and scope.
Secondly, a new wave of globalisation unprecedented in terms of scale and speed is unfolding. This process of economic integration – with resources becoming more mobile, economies becoming increasingly interdependent and financial markets becoming increasingly international – has important implications for the future of manufacturing. This also holds for the integration of China and India in the world economy; each is home to about 20 percent of world population. Both countries are leading and highly competitive exporters, India in software and IT-enabled services, and China in skill-intensive manufactures. Especially China has emerged as the powerhouse of the Asian region and has in less than 20 years become the world’s manufacturing and trading platform. Globalisation has also impacted European manufacturing in another way: lower production costs and the potential of new consumer markets have caused European manufacturers to increase the quality and design of their products and
have led to international sourcing of (parts of their) production. Thirdly, consumer demand in Europe itself is changing. As its citizens are becoming wealthier, they demand more services and place higher requirements on manufactured goods. Demographics (ageing) might strengthen this change. Finally, the pace of technological change appears to have sped up in viewof globalisation and increasing international competition. Globalisation, EU integration, shifting demand and progress in science and technology, and innovation – whether disruptive or not – will all have a major impact on how the manufacturing landscape in Europe in terms of location, production, distribution of labour and physical appearance will manifest itself in the near and longer-term future. The purpose of this long-term scenario study was twofold: (1) to provide policy-makers, decision-makers and others with
two long-term scenario-based views on the future of European manufacturing and (2) to explore the scope for EU policies to positively address and influence the future.

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Foresight Approaches

The scenarios in this study have been developed in three consecutive stages, consisting of (i) a survey of existing futures studies, (ii) the drafting of qualitative scenarios, and (iii) a quantification of the scenarios using WorldScan, a dynamically applied general equilibrium model for the world economy. This approach was designed as a hybrid combining the traditional foresight studies with more quantitative oriented economic-scenario studies.
One important difference between the two groups of studies is the detail with which technological factors are explored in the foresight studies compared to the economic-scenario and modelling studies, which generally treat them as exogenous factors. Furthermore, while the foresight studies, in contrast to the modelling studies, largely employ qualitative scenarios, this study aims at combining the benefits of both approaches:
first synthesising the results from many foresight studies to develop qualitative scenarios, followed by a quantification of the expected implications to check for the consistency of the scenarios as well as assess the expected impacts of policy packages. Furthermore, the communities conducting foresight studies and economic-scenario modelling studies have largely co-evolved with little interaction between them. This has led to foresight studies, focusing on participative processes and qualitative (policy) analyses and recommendations, producing
results that are challenged by approaches focusing on quantitative analyses. This study therefore aimed to bridge the two communities by employing methods used in each of them. As such, the results of the study can also be seen as an experiment on how to conduct such studies in the future, combining methods from different communities.

A Three Part Structure

As outlined above the study consisted of three distinct parts: a literature survey, the development of qualitative scenarios and the quantification of the scenarios using a modelling approach.

Survey of Future Studies

The survey of futures studies served two goals: (1) to help identify the relevant main drivers and trends that form our current perspective and knowledge that can be seen as key to the future of manufacturing in Europe and (2) to explore what other expert groups and think tanks regard as possible manufacturing futures.

The timeframe considered in the literature surveyed ranged from 2015 to 2050. During the course of stage one, 101 foresight reports, scenario studies, academic publications and policy documents were surveyed along five clusters: international, technological, social and environmental trends and drivers as well as new business models. The studies surveyed covered European studies, global studies, North-American studies and South-East Asian studies in order of importance.

FutMan, ManVis and Manufuture – three major EU-wide foresight projects conducted over the past five years – formed the backbone of the survey. The results of these foresight studies were supplemented by other materials ranging from theme or aspect futures studies (e.g. expected income developments; impacts of climate change) to similar foresight studies carried out in other countries, such as the U.S. (e.g. IMTI, 1998; SRI), Japan (Nistep, 2005) and China (NRCSTD, 2005 – for further references see full background report [Zee & Brandes, 2007]).

Qualitative Scenarios

The survey identified at least five sets of major drivers affecting the future of European manufacturing. These drivers are: (1) globalisation and international competition, (2) technological progress, (3) socio-demographic change (in income and wealth, social values, shifting preferences, ageing), (4) energy and resource scarcity, and (5) climate change and the environment. Based on these, two scenarios were developed: Cosy at Home and Adventuring the World. The two scenarios exemplify two explicit but ‘moderate extremes’ based on further integrating markets, on the one hand, and a stalling or reversal of market integration, on the other. In Cosy at Home, inwardlooking, risk-averse, indecisive behaviour dominates the public as well as the private realm. In Adventuring the World outward-looking (resulting in a further opening-up), risk-loving and pro-active behaviour is prime.Cosy at Home  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that faces an overall business and political climate that gradually becomes more inward-looking and passive. Uncertainty and indecisiveness at world level are answered with

a European response of retreat. Politically unstable regions, threats of international terrorism, absence of binding action at global scale to tackle the negative consequences of climate change and the inevitable depletion of fossil fuels, and – related – a lack of real breakthroughs in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnology and to a lesser extent biotechnology), give people the feeling of standstill and uneasiness. This in turn translates into a downturn in consumer and producer confidence and more inward-looking and risk-averse behaviour. Trust is something that may be found close by, but certainly not far from home. Rising energy prices and strong increases in monitoring and control of international movements of persons, goods and services result in a cost explosion in international transport and trade, which significantly alters the turn-of-the-century trend towards a further integrated world economy.

Adventuring the World  This scenario depicts a European manufacturing sector that is faced with an overall business and political climate of international cooperation, openness, but also strong competition. European self-confidence strengthens as the political and ideological emptiness that characterised the turn-of-the-century era has been replaced with new inspiring notions of Europe’s role in the world. This includes Europe assuming the position of a front-runner in solving problems of global warming, energy use and ageing as well as major breakthroughs in European social and cultural integration. Renewed decisiveness has triggered momentum at the global level and geo-political instability and threats of international terrorism are gradually disappearing. Considerable progress is made in alternative energy production and promising new technologies (nanotechnologies and biotechnology) have taken hold. A general upswing in consumer and producer confidence combines with new openness, and outward-looking and adventurous entrepreneurial behaviour. Trust relationships thrive. Rising energy prices stimulate new and more cost efficient energy-saving ways of transport of persons and products. Adequate road pricing and energy taxation increasingly supplant traditional labour taxes, making mobility and energy consumption better manageable and curbing harmful consequences.

Quantification of Scenarios

In the third step, the scenarios were quantified using an applied general equilibrium model for three main purposes: (1) the model ensured that the scenarios were consistent, since economic variables allow to describe and relate constraints and the current knowledge about interactions in the economy in a consistent form; (2) the quantification gave a feeling for the relative importance of various developments for the future well-being of society; (3) the model also offered the possibility of assessing the impact of framework policies and their relative importance.
However, large parts of the scenarios could not be quantified, as the general trends observed are expected to impact variables over too long time horizons for workable quantitative assumptions. The complex feedback loops furthermore make it only realistic to illustrate the scenario trends related to economic growth and economic integration, which are at the heart of the WorldScan model. (For details on the quantification of the scenarios and their expected impact on manufacturing please see the ‘final report’).

Impact of Framework Policies on Scenarios

The quantification of scenarios sketched the macroeconomic developments, showing the possible impact of globalisation, technological change, ageing and structural change towards a service economy on economic growth and trade. Europe is expected to become less important as a place for manufacturing production in both scenarios as manufacturing shifts to Asia. The question whether these trends could be affected by policies was assessed in the third step. Rather than thinking about targeting and subsidizing specific industries, framework policies that could affect the environment where industrial production takes place in Europe were modelled for potential impact on the scenarios. The framework policies analysed were: (1) upgrading skills, (2) more effective regulation and less administrative burdens for firms, (3) R&D and innovation policies, (4) a strong competitive single market, (5) environmental policies, (6) supporting energy policies and (7) global trade policy. The macro-economic outcomes for the EU as a whole in 2025 for both scenarios were analysed under the different framework policies. The differences between the two scenarios are minor. In Adventuring the World, GDP increases slightly more than in Cosy at Home, mainly because of the large impact of R&D and internal market policies. Exports increase faster in Cosy at Home, largely due to a composition effect of a higher share of total exports destined for other European countries. An increase in intra-EU exports due to new single market policies thus has a larger effect on total exports. R&D and innovation policies have the largest impact representing about 40% of the total GDP effect based on the lower bound returns in the literature. The reduction in administrative burden adds about 1.5% to GDP, internal market policies about 2% and skills even less. However, over time, when the whole labour force has been educated, the effects of upgrading skills will be larger. From Gelauff and Lejour (2006) we know that GDP effects will be three times as high in 2040 compared to 2025. However, compared to other framework policies, the economic effects even in 2040 will be unsubstantial.

A Future for Manufacturing

The analysis has shown that the share of manufacturing in employment and value added has decreased in Europe for decades reflecting structural changes in the global economy. However, manufacturing will remain important for trade and productivity increases, outpacing by far the service sector.

Global manufacturing is expected to grow, fuelled by Asian economic development. Nevertheless, there is a future for manufacturing in Europe. In 2025, Europe’s share in global manufacturing production and trade is estimated to be about 20%, much higher than its share in global population. Manufacturing is also estimated to contribute more than 15% to European value added in 2025 and to remain the most important driver for exports. A further strengthening of the internal market and adequate R&D and innovation policies can have a substantial impact on these shares. Both can be influenced by EU policy-making, but the framework policies cannot reverse the trends in shares of value added and employment. Within the manufacturing sector various developments will take place. The study discriminated between ten aggregate manufacturing sectors: ‘food products’, ‘textiles and wearing apparel’, ‘wood and other manufacturing’, ‘pulp, paper and publishing’, ‘chemicals, rubber and plastics’, ‘basic metals’,
‘non-metallic minerals’, ‘electronic equipment’, ‘transport equipment’ and ‘other machinery and equipment’. Based on
historical productivity growth paths of these sectors, their trade openness, R&D intensity, energy efficiency and skill intensity, it is highly likely that these (sub)sectors will develop differently over time. This also applies to subsectors within the ten sectors identified. Most sectors can distinguish between basic and specialized manufacturing activities, with basic manufacturing on average being more affected by international
competitiveness than specialized manufacturing.

Openness a Key Determinant

A number of interesting conclusions about the future of manufacturing in Europe were drawn. The increase in trade and,more generally, globalisation appears to be one of the most important drivers, making the sectors that are already most open to international trade also the ones mostly affected in the future. They include textiles and wearing apparel, wood and other manufacturing, chemicals, rubber and plastics, electronic equipment, transport equipment and other machinery and equipment. Overall, the sectors food products and pulp, paper and publishing will be less influenced. These are more domestically oriented sectors, less R&D intensive and face less technological
progress. Europe has no comparative advantages in textiles and wearing apparel, electronic equipment and basic
metals. This disadvantage will become further manifest in the oncoming twenty years. In particular, this applies to electronic equipment, which – while in the past representing a relatively large sector – will decline even further. Textiles and wearing apparel is an already small sector in terms of value added and employment, which means that an even less prosperous future for this sector will also have less overall impact. Chemicals, rubber and plastics, transport equipment and other transport and equipment will be the most important manufacturing sectors in Europe,
despite a deteriorating comparative advantage in the other machinery and equipment sector. These sectors are important for European exports and will account for about a quarter of global production and trade in these sectors over the coming decades. Of the framework policies analysed in this study, improving skills, reducing the administrative burden and increasing energy efficiency, have the least impact on manufacturing. R&D and
innovation policies and strengthening the internal market, on the other hand, have the strongest and most positive impact on manufacturing. They are also the most ambitious in terms of policy formulation and implementation, and potentially very effective in supporting manufacturing because of their R&D intensity and open-to-trade nature. In the coming decades, Europe’s decreasing share in global manufacturing production and trade will flatten. The EU framework policies support this slowing of the relative decline of manufacturing activities in Europe, which may even come to a near standstill in sectors such as chemicals, rubber and plastics, and combined machinery and equipment.

Authors: Felix Brandes (TNO-IPG)
Sponsors: European Commission – DG Enterprise & Industry
Type: European futures study on manufacturing
Organizer: CPB, the Netherlands (Arjan Lejour) & TNO-IPG (Frans van der Zee)
Duration: 01/2007-05/2007
Budget: 130,000€
Time Horizon: 2037
Date of Brief: March 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 137_ Manufacturing in Europe

Sources and Links

The key results of the study were published as part of Chapter 5 of the European Competitiveness Report 2007. More details and the full scenarios are published in the background reports and final report and can be accessed via the website of the European Commission and the CPB the Netherlands. _en.htm

Brandes, F., A. Lejour, G. Verweij & F. van der Zee (2007)
“The Future of Manufacturing in Europe”, Final Report, 31st May 2007, available at:

CEC (2007) “Chapter 5: The Future of Manufacturing in Europe – a survey of the literature and a modelling approach”
in European Competitiveness Report 2007, 31st October 2007,SEC (2007)1444, available at:

Lejour, A. & G. Verweij (2008) “Two quantitative scenarios
for the future of manufacturing in Europe”, CPB Netherlands
Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, available at

Zee, F.A van der & F. Brandes (2007) “Manufacturing Futures
for Europe: A survey of the literature”, TNO the Netherlands,
available at:

EFP Brief No. 42: Emerging S+T Priorities in the Triadic Regions

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The objective of this Platform Foresight project is the analysis of emerging science and technology priorities in public research policies of the European countries, the US and Japan. The aim is to provide the European Commission and the member states with policy recommendations as to become leaders in these emerging technologies.

EFMN Brief No. 42 – Emerging S+T Priorities in the Triadic Regions