A journalist once asked then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan what is most likely to blow governments off course. “Events, my dear boy, events” was Macmillan’s alleged response. Assuming there is some truth in this statement, one can add that events, at least political ones, rarely drop from the sky as meteorites, strike as flashes of lightnings or come down as manna from Heaven. They occur in the context of wider or longer trends, having their origins somewhere and leaving traces as they pass. We are often guilty of ignoring the wider picture as we try to capture the significance of moments and disjointed facts. If the events are mice scurrying around in the bushes, the trends are big elephants, so big that we only see and touch their leg or snout without grasping the full scale of the giant.
Trends are capable of doing more than turning governments off course, like the in case of one-off events. They can influence or decide the fate of societies and countries, determine their vital interests, choices or dilemmas. That is why staff at the GLOBSEC Policy Institute decided to conduct a thought experiment and – on the basis of year-round research activities at GLOBSEC (rather than pure conjecture) – try to identify seven major megatrends we believe to be the most important determinants of future of the West in general and Central Europe in particular. It would be a rather hopeless task if the list had an ambition to be exhaustive or if the phenomena we are writing about were to be properly explained or described. Faithful to the Shakspearian motto ‘brevity is the soul of wit’ we offer seven simple statements, risking the wrath of readers who are only satisfied with full argumentation and rigid methodology. They are:
- Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is at its most geopolitically vulnerable since 1989
- The theoretical model of flexible integration is becoming reality
- More and more countries are losing faith in multilateralism
- The West is increasingly challenged by revisionist powers and ideological adversaries
- Global Security Relations Are Increasingly Confrontational
- Ungoverned cyber space becomes an alluring setting for global conflict
- Technologies are increasingly weaponised to achieve political goals
As GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum 2018 draws nearer, we would like to play the role of provocateur and invite participants to a rather strategic and bird’s-eye view type of discussion. Each year, the GLOBSEC crowd (several thousands of us) gathers over three days to take part in dozens of events and sessions, with topics spanning technology, innovation through trade to security and defence, and beyond. It is easy to get drowned in detail while savouring the richness of debate at Central Europe’s leading forum on international issues. However, if you are ready and willing to take up our challenge, please spare a thought about your choice of megatrends and accept the invitation from GLOBSEC Policy Institute experts to debate these issues together during and after this year’s Forum.