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Charting the future of the Atlantic


The Atlantic Space harbours many contradictions, which invites caution when seeking to charter the future of the Atlantic over the next ten years. This paper reviews large clusters of trends, factors and actors, their potential developments and the implications for the future of cooperation or competition and political convergence or divergence in the Atlantic. A range of factors points to deepening trade and investment ties in this vast region, as a new ‘industrial revolution’ is emerging there. Demographic prospects reveal divergent trends in Africa, where the population is growing fast, and Europe, where the population will continue to grow older. The middle classes in the South Atlantic will be expanding whereas those in the North are under socio-economic stress, even if North-South income differentials will remain very large. Amidst broadly shared democratic values, normative differences appear an enduring feature of the Atlantic Space. Rising populism in Europe might affect prospects for cooperation with Europe’s partners in the Atlantic and beyond. Cooperation within the Atlantic Space is expected to make progress through flexible and targeted formats in areas such as security, energy and the environment, among others. Whether the TTIP will be concluded, and how inclusive it will be of other Atlantic partners, will be important factors for the future of the Atlantic.

Paper produced within the framework of the Atlantic Future project, January 2016.

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