German Strategic Document Examines Possible Future Scenarios Including EU Disintegration

By James Carstensen | November 9, 2017 | 12:46 AM EST

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Berlin ( – What would a future breakup of the European Union look like? A leaked plan by the German armed forces looks at six potential scenarios which it says are “plausible by 2040,” including three that picture varying levels of fragmentation of the 28-member bloc.

Labeled Strategic Perspective 2040, the 129-page report by the Federal Armed Forces Planning Office, leaked to the newsmagazine Der Spiegel, examines a hypothetical fragmentation of the E.U. and a rise in global conflicts.

The leak took place ahead of a landmark E.U. defense meeting next Monday, at which more than half the member states are expected to sign up to a project aimed at increasing E.U. security and defense cooperation, with countries pooling military logistics and resources and working together to develop weapons.

The leaked report was reportedly adopted by the Ministry of Defense in February to inform future German security policy.

The ministry has said the study contains “robust predictions,” but has declined to comment about the content or assign probabilities to the predictions.

Three of the scenarios foresaw peaceful futures, while the others saw a shift toward fragmentation, including a breakdown of the E.U., a halt in globalization, and increasing rifts between countries in eastern and western Europe.

The worst case of the scenarios, entitled “The E.U. in Disintegration and Germany in Reactive Mode,” envisions a breakup of the E.U. following Britain’s vote to leave the bloc, and with rising Euroscepticism having a negative influence on globalization.

“The E.U. enlargement has been largely abandoned, more states have left the bloc,” the scenario reads. “The increasingly disorderly, sometimes chaotic and conflictual world has dramatically changed the security policy environment for Germany and Europe.”

Another two scenarios foresaw increased conflict between east and west European nations. Russia is not directly cited as playing a role in this, according to Spiegel’ s reporting, although the inference seems to be there.

In the “West versus East” scenario, eastern members of the E.U. are envisioned pushing away from European integration with some even entering an “eastern bloc.”

A scenario entitled “Multipolar Competition” imagines a continued rise of political extremism with multiple E.U. partners moving toward a Russian “state capitalism” model.

Elements of the scenarios are already reflected in today’s geopolitical landscape.

The U.K. is the first country to choose to leave the union. After 12 years of stilted negotiations, accession talks with Turkey have stalled over the Islamist government’s repressive policies at home, and are on the verge of being cancelled entirely – another first for the E.U. 

Driven by factors such as mass migration and the rise of Islamic radicalism dividing consent among member states, increasing rifts between eastern and western states have surfaced.

Serious disagreements between the E.U. and the Polish and Hungarian governments have arisen over the bloc’s controversial migrant redistribution scheme.

The leak follows a similar Spiegel report from late October, which revealed news of a confidential NATO document calling for enhancements, including the deployment of two new battle groups of 2,000 troops each,  to its military preparedness for a possible conflict with Russia.

A Center for European Reform report published Wednesday conceded that the E.U. must work hard to maintain its appeal to Europeans.

The think tank’s report said the union “needs new initiatives to improve eurozone governance and economic growth rates, as well as more effective foreign and defense policies.”

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