The world is not changing gradually, but with unprecedented rapidity through five grand transformations: (a) Abundance and automation, (b) the rise of BRIC and globalization, (c) climate change and energy revolution, (d) demographic changes and (e) electronic information and communication technology. These drivers are global in geographic scope, historic in their long-term perspective and urgent in their short-term impact on the economic crisis.

Europe was on the winning side of history during the periods that these transformations are ending. Our goal must be to respond to these new challenges as successfully as we did in the past. Ways to achieve this include relying more on: the energy of the sun, the creativity of people and the tools and values promoted by international institutions such as the Council of Europe.

One of the biggest challenges is how can we raise, educate and empower the people of Europe so that they can contribute professionally and, through democracy, politically to ensure that Europe retains its place as a major global player. A lesson to be learnt from our history is the crucial importance of using technology and knowledge to empower people. This lesson is still valid.