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Europe, the US and Japan move over… The centre of gravity in world production and population is in for a major shift in the next decade and a half.

International researcher Lionel Fontagné, at a seminar on “The World in 2025” said: “The essential pole of global activity will be in Asia, especially China.” By 2025, with a high fertility rate the population of India will approach China’s, which will have started to decrease, mainly due to its one-child policy. By 2050, India’s population will displace China on the chart and top everyone else’s in number. The countries of today’s European Union will still place third, after China, and be ahead of the United States. Growth in Asia, Africa and South America will knock Russia out of the top ten. Jean-Michel Baer, with the European Commission, said: “Europe, it’s true, will be well in the minority in tomorrow’s world. Europe’s population will be older than most of the others. Political lessons will have to be learned. But this mustn’t always be seen in threatening terms; it could have its strong points and its weak ones. The ageing of the population is a weak one but also a strength because there is a lot of knowledge to pass on to younger generations.” Without an important intake of immigrants, the population of Europe will start to decrease by 2012. Among the conclusions shared by the European Foresight Expert Group at the seminar in Brussels were some forecasts viewed as encouraging yet daunting. Fontagné said: “Wealth is going to increase much faster than the world population, since the economy should double on the horizon we’re interested in, while the population will only rise by 25 percent, so that, in a way, is very good news. The not-so-good news is that this will put considerable pressure on resources. The combination will bring an 85 percent rise in world consumption.” If everybody in the world follows the habits of the US population, which has the highest per capita energy, food and water consumption, a dearth of commodities could create a severe world crisis. Europe considers analysing development trends, tensions and transitions vital.

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