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The Future of Politics and Public Management in the European Union

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The future of politics and public management in the European Union

Yllka Sela

European Union (EU) was a necessity for peace and compromise for most of the countries that came with the idea of its creation but for many countries who aspire to be part of it one day, it is a matter of utility. Deep inside people think that it is a potential dream, but many others haven’t hesitated to be suspicious about its existence and in addition about its future. What could be the future of EU in terms of public administration and politics? To answer that question it is a must having a brief look in the latest trends on this topic to predict the potential future.

There are many reasons why EU cannot be the same in the next decade. Speaking in terms of strategic management, the environment is dynamic and unpredictable so it changes time after time. Demographic change and its influence in public sector, climate change, economic problems, technological developments etc., are just a few variables which test the flexibility and capability of EU public management and politics.

EU is a source of exchange between goods, people and workforce and it faces demographic change in continuity. As many other countries which struggle to keep average age under control, thinking in terms of prosperity and sustainable development, EU is facing an ageing population. This means that in the near future, governance and public sector should be prepared to handle a greater number of pensions, healthcare and social care. In addition, latest emigration crisis implicate the European policies and public service as it enforces governments to make hard decisions and puts the public sector in front of the change management challenge due to this emergent changes. All of the above leads to another challenge which is of course related to the impacts of these demographic changes in public management.

Climate change is lately concerning every country including the European countries and especially their public authorities. “Increased floods in some areas and increased droughts in others, extreme climate change will cause loss of life and destruction property. Global warming will change the conditions for agriculture and water supply; it may well alter the patterns of disease, it is likely to impact on building and construction requirements, and it could well give rise to significant population movements”(Pollitt, 2014). This situation leads to a question mark. Is it better to train the existing public servants in order to manage these challenges or is it better to unfreeze public sector and recruit ‘new blood’? Due to this potential changes, European governments have to be prepared to add some extra expenditures on their budgets to increase the number of  public servants in order to response effectively to this changes.

Technological developments are also a major challenge in the future of EU. As we speak, the EU public sector and governance tents to be affected by technological change. Administrative productivity and flexibility seems to be highly correlated with technological progress. A couple of decades ago, new public management (NPM) concept was proposed to be the solution for a better public sector that would eliminate the weaknesses of bureaucracy. Today and in the near future, probably NPM will be equal to E-governance and digital public sector. All this technology which is a necessity for better implemented strategies in the entire EU, means greater costs to countries budgets but on the other hand, it could be the best option to regain the public trust in governments.

Global economic and fiscal crisis leaded to eurozone crisis. Countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have faced difficulties in their economic performance and additionally in their public spending. Cutting of their public spending means a greater risk for these countries facing the above challenges and in addition it means lower wages in public sector and ‘a great loss of attractiveness of public sector careers’. In these conditions, the public sector will not be able to do more, with fewer sources. Some countries predict great pensions, healthcare and social care but this also means greater government spending as a percentage of GDP. Also a coordination between fiscal and monetary policies in order to stabilize economies or in high hopes to contribute in economic growth of the entire eurozone, is absolutely needed, but it is difficult to measure the effects of the intervention on time. However, to get such benefits from this coordination and which is the most important, on time, public sector must be characterized of horizontal structures, high level of specialization and flexibility which remains a challenge itself.

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