Within the framework of the recently competed study project, the Foresight Centre analysed the significance of the changes in global forces for Estonia in such strategic fields like energy, digital infrastructure and technology. As a result of the research, the Centre sets out four possible development scenarios together with decision points and choices.
Head of the Foresight Centre Tea Danilov thinks that at the moment the world is experiencing a certain interim period that is characterised by uncertainty regarding the prevailing global values and views in the future, or the impact of the development of technology on the changes in global forces. Therefore, it is very appropriate to analyse how the global developments influence the development of Estonia in the issues that are important for our country. “We do not forecast the future, but draw attention to the main choices and decision points until 2035 in terms of different global developments,” Danilov explained.
Head of Research of the Foresight Centre Meelis Kitsing underlined that the drafting of the scenarios first of all focused on uncertainties. “Such an approach enabled to identify two main key factors for Estonia, which are the functioning of the European Union and the development of infrastructure. The cooperation within the European Union may become closer or weaker in the next 15 years. How it will take place is still uncertain – the emphasis may be only on the functioning of the single market or on increasing the economic competitiveness, on social policy or on cooperation in foreign policy,” Kitsing added.
In cooperation with experts from Estonia and abroad, four development scenarios until 2035 have been prepared.
Scenario “Compass Europe” sees Europe as the trendsetter in the world and acknowledges the strong contribution of the EU in Estonia. The cooperation of the European Union becomes closer and the EU is an important investor in energy, transport and digital infrastructure.
Estonia will get the opportunity to increase its wealth by extensive infrastructure investments and the improved position of the EU in global economy enables to open new doors for the Estonian businesses. For Estonia, this scenario means rapid growth of welfare, but it will be accompanied by technological anxiety, and inequality and discontent among some groups of population may increase.
Scenario “Europe as a Fortress” foresees closer cooperation between the countries of Europe, but instead of facilitating competitiveness, the focus is on (over)reacting and ensuring of social security. The European Union is an important power in the world, but the competitiveness of European companies and the infrastructure investments decrease.
For Estonia, this scenario predicts a moderate increase of wealth, where the welfare of more vulnerable people improves. At the same time, the growth of welfare is constantly declining because of the inability to make the necessary investments into energy and transport.
Scenario “A Peculiar Speaking Telegraph” predicts weakening of cooperation in Europe and increase of backwardness. No important developments in infrastructure are carried out and the interest of the world in Europe wanes.
For Estonia, this scenario foretells slowdown of economic development, and the principles of the so-called slow living, where a large part of the population does not consider economic growth a priority, become a significant obstacle to investments into infrastructure and to economic development.
In scenario “Technology Wolf”, the cooperation of the European Union has weakened and focuses only on the functioning of the single market. Some EU member states prefer economic cooperation with China and others with the USA, who also contribute to the development of infrastructure. The role of private sector and the cities increases.
For Estonia, this development scenario would mean increase of inequality because rapid development takes place mainly in Tallinn and in business. Infrastructure investments will be centred in Tallinn and the gap with the rest of Estonia increases.
The materials of the Foresight Centre study “Changes in Global Forces and Their Significance for Estonia” are available here (in Estonian): https://www.riigikogu.ee/arenguseire/globaalsed-joujooned/
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