Just as the ceremony awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union was coming to a triumphant, Beethoven-accented crescendo in Oslo yesterday, spy agencies in Washington released their unclassified guesstimates about the world in 2030 with pointed words for the newly ennobled laureates.
The quadrennial Global Trends paper by the U.S. National Intelligence Council foresees three scenarios for Europe:
1) Collapse. The euro crumbles, followed by the single market and a “breakdown in civil society.” A global recession or depression looms. Scenario probability: “low.”
2) Slow Decline. Europe shakes off the worst of the crisis, the economy lumbers along, the euro fails to rival the dollar or renminbi, EU-skepticism remains high and Europe absents itself as a geopolitical actor.
3) Renaissance. The “familiar pattern of crisis and renewal” leads to a more federal Europe, cohesive common market and foreign policy, and the makings of a continent-wide democracy.
No likelihood was assigned to the latter two scenarios; presumably that is reserved for paying subscribers to the classified version of Global Trends. So consider this prediction: a slow renaissance punctuated by fears of collapse.