Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

If the second decade of the 21st century demonstrated anything, it's that we live in an age of constant change.

Five factors that will shape your life in Europe in the 2020s

From the Trump presidency to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve almost come to expect the unexpected. However, there are some significant global trends that, it’s safe to say, will shape the next decade.

Together with online learning expert GetSmarter, and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), we look at five of the factors that will influence the professional and personal lives of international workers in Europe over the next ten years. 

Gain an understanding of the world in the coming decade, in just eight weeks online with LSE and GetSmarter

1. Populism and economic nationalism. Donald Trump was only the most prominent manifestation of a populist surge in the second half of the last decade that afflicted many Western democracies. It was driven by disenchantment with globalisation and seemingly detached elites or technocrats.

The recent war of words between Germany and Hungary, over anti-LGBTIQ legislation, and the ensuing, very public demonstrations of support by many German sporting clubs, is only a glimpse of the ‘culture wars’ that seem to dominate the politics of central Europe in the next decade. 

Political turmoil, fanned by state and extra-state actors, may become more normalised, and that has implications for where you choose to live or take a job.

2. Cybersecurity. As more and more of our lives move online, powerful corporations handle our data and digital networks are exposed to criminal and extremist groups. What are the long-term consequences of the digital economy? How will privacy and cybersecurity concerns be addressed, such as those raised by the European Union, and who will control the new digital monopolies?

An example of how one of these issues may impact international workers in Europe is the recent ransomware attack on Swedish supermarkets, which not only saw shoppers unable to buy goods, but the entire business crippled for a number of days, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue and additional costs. 

As a benefit, however, IT specialists in cybersecurity will become more sought after, and many will need to be trained to meet the demands of corporations on the ground.

Enrol by October 5th in the Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from LSE and GetSmarter to help you navigate the next decade

3. Brexit. It’s been five years since the United Kingdom voted to separate from the European Union, and despite half a decade of negotiations and diplomatic wrangling, tensions are still very much alive between the EU and its neighbour.

Aside from the very obvious changes to the way that many live and work in Europe, many smaller businesses are finding it impossible to ship goods, or provide services to the UK, due to spiralling freight costs, or lack of clarity about trade agreements. For many international workers in Europe, this has implications for businesses and employment – Britain may not maintain the market status it once did. 

Pic: The Local Creative Studio

4. US Elections. The 2024 US Presidential Election, and the midterms before that, will be a test to determine whether Trumpism was an anomaly, or remains an unpredictable, destabilising force in American politics for years to come.

On this side of the Atlantic, we’ve seen that the American isolationism of the previous administration has been replaced with a more cooperative approach and a military presence that is stabilising, if not increasing. For those who work in Europe as defence contractors, or with firms that do business with the military, there are more opportunities for growth after a period of stagnation. For serving personnel, they may find that their time in Europe is extended, with more opportunities to experience life in other nation

5. Climate change. The COP26 summit in Glasgow later this year will be a defining moment in the struggle against climate change. The United States and China, but also other major emitters, will need to make bigger global efforts after five years to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

While you may be asked to use new power sources, or technologies with better energy efficiency, Europe is already being impacted by hotter summers and wetter winters, changing the way many work and go on holiday – something that you will have to get used to in the long term. 

Stay ahead of the curve. If you’re an international resident or your career requires an understanding of major global issues, it can be hard work keeping informed of these massive changes.

The Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course from the London School of Economics and Political Science, in collaboration with GetSmarter, explores some of the significant global trends that will define the decade, and have very real consequences for business and society.

Flexible, online learning designed by leading LSE academics enables anyone to develop the skills needed to think critically and make informed decisions during times of change and uncertainty.

Embrace change: enrol by October 5th in LSE and GetSmarter’s eight-week Business, International Relations and the Political Economy online certificate course

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UPDATE: How small businesses in Spain can get €12,000 for digital improvements

The Spanish government has unveiled how self-employed workers and small businesses in Spain can apply for the so-called ‘Kit Digital’ and get up to €12,000 to improve the digital side of their businesses. Here are the updated details, the requirements and why you should apply as soon as possible.

UPDATE: How small businesses in Spain can get €12,000 for digital improvements

At the time of announcing the financial aid programme back in November 2021, the only real details announced were that the government’s so-called ‘Digital Kits’ would run until 2023 with an initial investment of €500 million and would be available to self-employed workers and companies with between 10 and 49 employees.

But on March 15th 2022 the Spanish government finally announced the details of the scheme, including how these digital bonuses will work, the requirements needed to get one and how to apply. 

Autónomos (self-employed workers) and small business owners in Spain have had a tough time during the pandemic, whilst also having to pay some of the highest social security contributions in Europe.

The Spanish government’s new ‘digital kit’ is aimed at helping many of these small business owners out by covering the cost of digital improvements, from their websites to social media management and marketing campaigns.

READ ALSO – Self-employed in Spain: What you should know about being ‘autónomo’

How will the Digital Kits work?

The Digital Kit funds will be distributed in the form of vouchers of up to €12,000 for small companies and autónomos who want to undertake a digital transformation of their businesses.

These vouchers will then be passed on to ‘digital agents’ – a series of companies authorised by the government to develop these projects, which they call “digital solutions”. That means that self-employed workers and small businesses will not receive the funds directly nor be able to choose which company to hire for the digital improvements.

Instead, it will be the digital agents who receive the final payment and will take care of the paperwork and digital improvements. Currently, there are already more than 3,000 companies authorised as digital agents, although the list is expected to continue to grow in the next few weeks.

Please note that €12,000 in funds is the highest amount and will only be available to businesses with the need for a complete digital overhaul. 

What digital improvements are available?

The digital transformation projects which can be financed with the Digital Kit fall into several different categories, which the government defines as:

  • The creation of web pages and visibility of the company on the internet (Google rankings, SEO)
  • Electronic commerce
  • Social media management
  • The improvement and digitisation of customer management systems
  • Business intelligence and analytics
  • Virtual office tools and services
  • Digitisation and automation of business processes
  • Electronic billing
  • Secure communications
  • Cybersecurity

Who will be eligible for the Digital Kits?

In order to be eligible for the Digital Kits, you must:

  • Be a small business, micro business or autónomo (A small business is considered to be one that has more than 10 employees and no more than 50 and a micro business has less than 10 employees whose annual turnover does not exceed €2 million).
  • Meet the financial and cash limits that define the categories of each type of company
  • Not be considered a company in crisis
  • Be up to date with tax and social security payments
  • Not be subject to an outstanding recovery order from the European Commission

When can I apply?

The Asociación de Autónomos (ATA) has confirmed to The Local that small businesses with between 10 and 49 employees are able to apply for the Digital Kits any time between now and 11am on September 14th 2022.

However, if you want to be in with a chance of receiving one, you should apply as soon as possible, as the aid will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis, depending on your needs and funds are already running out. 

ATA also confirmed that micro businesses with between three and nine employees are able to apply from June and sole traders or those with just two employees can apply from September. 

How do I apply?

In order to apply, you must register at and complete the self-diagnosis test. This will allow the government to know what level of digitisation your company has already and what you need. 

Remember, those businesses that have already registered will be given priority. 

You can also request ATA to help you apply for the kits by filling out the form found at

You can then check the catalogue of digital solutions, where you can choose one or several of those offered by digital agents that best suit the needs of your business.

Next, you will request the Digital Kit aid at the electronic office ( and complete the associated form.

Once your request for a Digital Kit has been granted, you will be able to access the catalogue of digital agents and decide which one you want to work with, before signing an agreement to start your project.

According to the latest stats available, there are approximately 2.9 million SMEs in Spain (around 70 percent in the services sector), and around 3 million autónomos. 

READ ALSO: How to set up an online shop in Spain