A secret planning document by the German armed forces has predicted that the European Union could fragment and collapse by 2040.
The 102-page future planning paper, called the "Strategic forecast 2040" spells out six possible scenarios, the most extreme of which see unity on the European continent pushed to breaking point.
It was written by the Bundeswehr Planning Office and leaked to Der Spiegel, the highly-regarded German news magazine.
The Spiegel report describes the scenarios, saying: "The worst-case-scenario is the sixth, that depicts a crumbling EU and a former leading power, the USA, trying in vain to stem an erosion of the world order.
"There are signs of the economic downfall and a backsliding of world politics. 'A "cycle of retreat" develops,' which 'lets worldwide crises escalate.'"
A less dire version of the prediction — rated 4/6 on the scale of severity — still imagines a fractured continent, and an end to what the military call "the European illusion."
It says: "The EU is fraying at the edges, an 'end of the European illusion' appears to be possible, there are signs of a Transatlantic alienation. The unclear world order made the political environment for Germany 'confusing and sometimes risky.'"
According to Der Spiegel, the document was written two years ago. As such, it does not take account of more recent world events such as the election of President Donald Trump, or Britain's decision to leave the EU.
The magazine said the 2040 predictions were the first ever by the German military, which had previously been reluctant to make such forecasts, which are relatively commonplace in the US and British armies.
They were reportedly spurred to act after Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula took German high command by surprise.
Der Spiegel said the paper came after a shift in personnel at the German defence ministry, and was commissioned by Katrin Suder, a former McKinsey consultant who had worked on similar papers there.
As well as the scenarios outlined above, the military also lists a number of individual threats to Germany in the decades to come. They include weakening national loyalties, faltering economies in the west, disease epidemics, "drone swarms" deployed by hostile states, and miniaturised chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons.