ESPAS Conference 2020

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ESPAS Conference 2020

The 2020 ESPAS annual conference - Thinking about the Future: Europe’s Road to 2030 - will take place at the end of a momentous year in human history. The coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact on societies and economies, and it is clear that many long-held assumptions about how we live, work and relate to each other are being challenged as never before.

In the course of this two-day conference, we will consider how to build a more resilient Europe in an uncertain world, and explore how Europe can navigate existing and emerging global trends in order to chart a course for 2030.

The conference will consider how the coronavirus has affected our understanding of key global trends and what this might mean for our common future, exploring the implications for Europe and other regions around the world. The question of how the Union can increase its capacity to handle future shocks - by better identifying risks, capabilities and opportunities - will also feature prominently in the discussion.

The conference will begin with a presentation of the European Commission’s recently- published, first annual Strategic Foresight Report - Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe - by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. In parallel, the event will look at how the conclusions of the 2019 ESPAS Report, Global Trends to 2030: Challenges and Opportunities for Europe, now look in the light of the pandemic.

Building on the success of ESPAS in identifying global trends in recent years, together with the impetus the project has given to the development of foresight across the European institutions, the conference will explore how to strengthen the link between global trends analysis and the practical needs of EU policy-making.

The purpose of the ESPAS annual conference is to engage in a broad-ranging conversation with policy analysts and foresight experts in governments, think tanks, universities and many other organisations on what matters in this fast-moving field. The current crisis has underlined the importance of foresight in effective policy-making and we hope that the conference can contribute to that process.



Building a more resilient Europe in an uncertain world

14.30 - 14.45

Welcome and introduction

David Maria Sassoli, MEP, President of the European Parliament.

Introduced by:

Anthony Teasdale, Director General, European parliament Research Service (EPRS).

14.50 - 15.05

After the European Commission’s first Annual Strategic Foresight Report - Building the future of EU strategic foresight

Keynote address:

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission.

15.05 Embedding strategic foresight into policy-making - Best practice:

Jyrki Katainen, former Prime Minister of Finland and former Vice-President of the European Commission.

15.15 Messages of support for the EU foresight network:

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister, Spain (video message);

Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Economy and Energy, Germany (video message);

Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Portugal (video message);

Karoline Edtstadler, Federal Minister for the EU and Constitution, Austria (live);

Angel Gurria, Secretary-General, OECD (video message).

15.35 In conversation:

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Foresight, European Commission.


Michael Peel, EU Diplomatic Correspondent, Financial Times.

16.00 - 17.00

Towards a more resilient Europe: Assessing risks, opportunities and capabilities


Klaus Welle, Secretary-General, European Parliament.

Panel discussion:

Mikołaj Dowgielewicz, Representative to the EU institutions, European Investment Bank;

Pascal Leardini, Deputy Secretary-General and Chief Operating Officer, European Commission;

Dr Benedetta Berti, Head of Policy Planning, Office of the Secretary General at NATO.

Questions and comments from the digital floor


Paweł Świeboda, Director General, Human Brain Project; CEO, EBRAINS.

17.00 - 18.15

Understanding the new big picture: How has coronavirus changed our thinking about key global trends?

Panel discussion:

Florence Gaub, Deputy Director, EU Institute for Security Studies (EUISS);
Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Resilience, Oxford University;
Greg Treverton, Professor of the Practice of International Relations, University of Southern California (USC); former Director, National Intelligence Council (NIC);
Yu Jie, Senior Research Fellow, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

Questions and comments from the digital floor


Christian Leffler, former Deputy Secretary-General, European External Action Service (EEAS).

18.30 - 19.00

From Horizon-Scanning to Resilience Building: The ESPAS story so far

Conversation with:

Matthew Reece, Head of Unit, Enlargement Unit, Council of the EU;

Ramona Gabar, Political Administrator, European Council and Strategic Planning Unit, General Secretariat of the Council;

Hervé Delphin, Head of Division, Strategic Planning, European External Action Service.


Franck Debié, Director, Library and Knowledge Services, European Parliament.


End of day one.


Navigating global trends: Charting a course for Europe

10.00 - 10.45

Welcome and introduction to the second day

Eva Kaili, MEP, Chair, Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA).

Othmar Karas, MEP, Vice-President, European Parliament;

Followed by video presentations by:

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission;

Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President, European Committee of the Regions.

10.45 - 11.45

Defining Europe’s place in the world: How to be an effective global player in 2030

Panel discussion:

David O’Sullivan, former Secretary-General, European Commission;

Stefano Sannino, Deputy Secretary-General, European External Action Service (EEAS);

Nathalie Tocci, Director, Italian Institute for International Affairs;

Pierre Vimont, former French Ambassador to US; Visiting Professor, Columbia University.

Questions and comments from the digital floor


Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute.

11.45 - 12.45

How far can foresight offer a foretaste of the future?

Panel discussion:

Eva Kaili, MEP, Chair, EP Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA);

Jeanette Kwek, Head, Centre for Strategic Futures, Government of Singapore;

Alexander Schieferdecker, Head of Strategic Foresight and Policy Planning, Federal Chancellery, Germany;

Jaana Tapanainen-Thiess, Secretary General, Government Report on the Future and Government Foresight Group, Prime Minister’s Office, Finland.

Questions and comments from the digital floor


Simonetta Cook, Member, Cabinet of Charles Michel, President of European Council.

12.45 - 14.00

Lunch break

14.00 - 15.00

After the US Presidential election: Where next for America and Transatlantic relations?

Keynote conversation:

Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State; author of ‘Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st Century Memoir’ (2020).

David McAllister, MEP, Chair, Committee on Foreign Relations, European Parliament.


Jim Cloos, Deputy-Director General, General Secretariat, Council of the EU.

15.00 - 16.00

What future for democracy and government post-coronavirus?

Panel discussion

Professor Brigid Laffan, Director, Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute (EUI);

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Psychology, University of Bristol;

Mathew Burrows, Director, Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative, Atlantic Council; author of ‘The Future, Declassified’ (2014);

Antonella Mei-Pochtler, Special Advisor to the Austrian Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz; Head of Think Austria, the Federal Chancellor's strategy and planning unit.

Questions and comments from the digital floor.


Shada Islam, Director, New Horizons Project; Fellow at the Vrije University Brussel; Visiting Professor, College of Europe.

16.00 - 17.00

How can we build a sustainable economic recovery post-coronavirus?

Panel discussion

Lucile Schmid, Vice-President, La Fabrique écologique;
Celine Gauer, Head of the Recovery and Resilience Task Force, European Commission;
Luiz de Mello, Director of Policy Studies, Economics Department, OECD;
Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund (GMF) and Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

Questions and comments from the digital floor


Maria Demertzis, Deputy Director, Bruegel.

17.00 - 17.40

The Biden foreign policy: Challenges and Opportunities

Keynote address:

Robert Zoellick, former President, World Bank; former Deputy US Secretary of State; author of ‘America in the World: A History of US Diplomacy and Foreign Policy’ (2020)


James Elles, Honorary President, ESPAS.

17.45 - 18.45

Strategic autonomy and global interdependence: Where next for Europe on foresight?

Panel discussion:

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission;

Klaus Welle, Secretary General of the European Parliament;

Jim Cloos, Deputy Director-General, General Secretariat, Council of the EU;

Stefano Sannino, Deputy Secretary-General, European External Action Service (EEAS).


James Elles, Honorary President, ESPAS.


Close of conference.


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ESPAS The European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS) brings together the various European Union institutions and bodies in a process of administrative-level cooperation designed to identify and analyse the medium- and long-term trends facing the European Union and their implications for policy-makers. This dialogue was established in the early 2010s as a means of promoting longer-term thinking in the EU policy process and encouraging the Union’s various institutions to cooperate more closely in the field of foresight.

ESPAS Conference 2020