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The challenges EU leaders must face up to - Future World

From post-pandemic recovery to climate change – the EU needs a united front in a fragmented economic and political landscape

The coronavirus outbreak was only the latest stress test for the EU after Brexit, the refugee crisis and the Eurozone debt crisis. Although European leaders reacted quickly this time around, the EU is not out of the woods yet. While member states have become more interconnected over the past decades, at the same time their political, economic and social trajectories have grown further apart.

The EU’s future is one of the key aspects of our society being impacted by megatrends, analyzed in the 'Future World' series produced by Bocconi University – along with those impacting the economy, climate change, demography and digital transformation. Bocconi professors talk about the forces at play, the challenges and opportunities, and how we will need to transform and adapt, with added commentary from prominent guests.

European leaders need to secure public support for the European project to make its future sustainable.

In this video Catherine De Vries of Bocconi University, who studies European politics, highlights to us the difficulties leaders have in facing the EU’s challenges in such a divided economic and political landscape. For example, While the EU recovery fund, Next Generation EU, was designed to avoid an uneven recovery and economic fragmentation with the EU, the size of the fund, almost €800 billion, will unlikely be able to overcome imbalances that have grown over decades. Long-term economic scarring in the South might remain.

And the economic and political differences have left a mark on public opinion. There is strong approval of EU membership across the Continent but finding a one-size fits all policy solution that will satisfy a large majority of citizens both within and across member states will be far from straight forward.

The key to a better future is for the EU to deliver on the policies that really matter to European citizens and to better manage diversity.

In the video, Timothy Garton-Ash, commentator and author, adds some insight on the best pathways for the EU to move forward and how to unite European citizens behind a common view of where the EU should be heading.

On another front, European politicians are increasingly weaponizing the topic of European integration to serve their domestic political goals. European integration has become a perfect issue for political entrepreneurs who thrive on anti-establishment rhetoric and exploit divisions within the political mainstream. Every government has its own Euroskeptic agitator to appease, and its own public sentiment to navigate, and their rise and the resulting political fragmentation has made brokering deals in Brussels much more difficult.

The European continent faces key challenges - from the post-pandemic economic recovery to climate change, from the technological transition to geopolitical instability - and to deal with them effectively European leaders will have to coordinate their actions. De Vries also tells us how the EU needs to reconcile radically different views about the appropriate scope and depth of integration. At the same time, European leaders need to secure public support for the European project to make its future sustainable. Acting collectively when the economic, political and social costs of previous crises diverged tremendously across the Union could prove to be a tall order.

The pandemic has highlighted the true potential and value of digital transformation. Where is technology heading us and what will be the impact on society and business?

A multispeed post-pandemic economic recovery is underway. A look at the new growth patterns and dynamics that will impact the global economy

We have caused enough damage to the environment and it is time to break the cycle. A look at the opportunities and challenges of the mitigation effects we are putting, and can put, into effect

Demography shapes and is shaped by economic social, political and environmental change. What are the fast and slow population changes underway impacting society?

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