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Page | Last updated: 12 Sep 2023

Changing security paradigm

The diversification of threats, and the people behind them, are generating new challenges for the defence and security communities, and to society as a whole.

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(© Photo by faber14 on Adobe Stock)


A Megatrend is a long-term driving force that is observable now and will continue to have a global impact in years to come

The methods of confrontation among global players are changing and expanding to new confrontation fields. International relations and political power positions among the evolving players are changing too. Grey conflict, hybrid warfare and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous weapons systems, big data, biotechnologies, hypersonic glide vehicle and quantum technologies are changing the way developed countries conduct wars.

Pressure on the environment, its ecosystems and on society is being exploited as a means to gain advantage in geopolitical competition. For example the control of energy resources and raw materials, economic tools and trade control, aid policies, communication infrastructures, and the control of data and cyberspace. Hybrid threats are increasing (i.e. the blending of conventional with political warfare), even using migrants, fake news and/or election intervention tactics. The race for ‘space supremacy’ is another field where competition is rapidly growing and there is an increased number of satellite systems and missions to Mars and the Moon.

All of these aspects and the changing security paradigm that comes with them require urgent action in the EU. To compete and succeed in this new geopolitical landscape an adequate number of skilled workers is urgently required. We need novel legal and regulatory frameworks, proper consideration of industrial dependency on foreign countries and to pool resources for a collaborative and coordinated development of ‘dual-use’ civil and military technologies. EU Member States can be a stronger, safer, leading global player by acting together. 


This Megatrend is part of the Megatrends Hub



The driving forces of the Megatrend change over time. This timeline indicates more established and newer trends that are influencing the future direction of the Megatrend


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They indicate a direction of change in values and needs which is driven by forces and manifests itself already in various ways within certain groups in society. 

Shift in the geopolitical landscape

World geopolitics is changing; the United States of America have been disengaging from their traditional role of enforcer of the geopolitical order, leaving room for the rise of others. Among these global changes, there is a growing awareness in the EU of the importance of strengthening common defence capabilities and geo-economics instruments.

Changing conflict causalities 

The root causes of conflicts are complex, difficult to research and always evolving. As societies change, so too do reasons for internal and external tensions. Some of the change happens in long standing trends that experience a shift in focus, while others are born from disruptive new technologies, radically shifting behaviour, or the destructive results of human activity.

Future battlefields

This trend focuses on technologies that could be considered ‘emerging’ compared to the present status of the military arsenal/weapon collection. However, most of these technologies are already quite mature (for e.g. drones, hypersonic missiles, wearable sensors and autonomous systems) and are already changing modern warfare when they are used. Relevant decisions about investments and critical capabilities for the future 'battlefield technolgies' need to be taken today.

Space becomes a new area of expansion 

The new Space era that we are living in today is a dynamically and rapidly evolving innovation landscape - where increasing numbers of diverse actors and disruptive technologies are leading to new services and applications. In parallel, it is bringing new political and societal issues that require novel legal and regulatory reform.


Previously Covered Trends

These are trends that were spotted in the past, and might have grown or faded away in time.


Future Snapshots

A future snapshot shows a plausible image of what might happen in the future in relation to this Megatrend. It is a creation built using knowledge and imagination. These snapshots presented here are excerpts of inspiring future-oriented reports written by other colleagues and organisations.

What if a country creates space debris on purpose?

“In late 2021, a country (which shall remain unnamed), decided to push the limits of asymmetric and hybrid threats to new heights – literally. At first, when the idea of introducing space debris in low earth orbit (160 kilometres to 2,000 kilometres above the earth’s surface) was presented to the two senior advisors of the country’s leader, it was unceremoniously brushed off. Neither advisor took it seriously, even if such a move supposedly could disturb satellite services, dealing a blow to (communications and earth observation and) arch enemies in the West. One of the advisors even sneered at the proposal, noting that the idea was either from someone who had “watched too many Hollywood movies” or who had “taken the leader’s call to think out of the box a bit too far.”

Other sketched scenarios are: ‘What if the sun led to a cyberwar’ and ten more

Scanning the Horizon: 12 scenarios for 2021 European Union. Institute for Security Studies (2019) Edited by Florence Gaub - Chaillot paper / 150


Turmoil in the Islamic world will likely continue

"Radical Islamic terrorism and state weakness will continue to drive regional turmoil and demand an ongoing U.S. military presence.
The chances of a larger regional conflict fueled by Saudi-Iranian, Saudi-Israeli and Russian-U.S. tensions will likely increase and could drive a larger demand for U.S. forces."

Other sketched key findings are: China's rise must be regarded cautiously, A revanchist Russia will pose a long-term challenge to U.S. security interests, and more.

Geopolitical Trends and the Future of Warfare. The Changing Global Environment and Its Implications for the U.S. Air Force RAND (2020) by Raphael S. CohenEugeniu HanAshley L. Rhoades


Further Reading

Want to explore more? Some interesting readings below:

●    Action Plan on Synergies between civil, defence and space industries - EC
●    Defence Industry and Space – EC 
●    Institute for Security Studies - EUISS
●    Defence Industry and Space – EC 
●    North Atlantic Treaty Organization - NATO


This Megatrends hub is a repository of foresight related information. It highlights long-term driving forces and its underlying shorter-term trends. This repository can help you understand the changing society in a broad and more systemic way. 

Disclaimer: this repository is by no means comprehensive and alongside established scientific knowledge, it presents issues which are not established. It includes emerging ideas where research is ongoing and which are still subject to scientific debate in order to give the reader some insights as to the direction of the trends and ways to further explore the topics in more depth.