Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - Page 9 News List

The European experience has a great deal to offer

By Jose Manuel Barroso

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the contours of world order are still in the making, but two “mega trends” seem clear — the broadest and deepest wave of globalization the world has ever seen and the rise of new world players from Asia and elsewhere. We also hear ever-louder calls for more effective global coordination in meeting the great challenges of our times. As the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, the EU is, I believe, uniquely suited to take on its leadership responsibilities.

The world has been well served by economic globalization. Remarkable growth in the emerging economies has lifted millions out of poverty and created major new opportunities for investment and prosperity. This has helped great nations, such as China and India, to self-confidently assert themselves as global powers. Brazil is also finally fulfilling its great potential. In the West, the US remains a global economic powerhouse and the EU too has capitalized on globalization to consolidate its position as the world’s major economy and trader.

Globalization, however, also increases competition and exposes weaknesses. Workers globally fear for their jobs because they feel they are being by-passed by economic change. The economic crisis has exacerbated the perceived downside of globalization. As a result, our economic interdependence requires careful coordination, not just in the coming weeks, but, crucially, in the longer term. We need to revisit the structures of global governance, to ensure that they work better for people everywhere, and in the interests of both present and future generations. The EU has led the discussion within its own structures and taken it to wider international forums. We welcome the emerging economies’ call for the reform of global institutions.

Trade is a case in point. It is in the enlightened self-interest of us all not to give in to the temptations of protectionism. The economic crisis has made progress in the negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda at the WTO even more important. The WTO framework to which the EU has always given a priority is increasingly recognized as fundamental to our prosperity. It helps to anchor the global economy in an open rules-based system based on international law, but more needs to be done.

The world faces traditional and non-traditional security fears. Many of our countries are targets of terrorism, which eight years on from the Sept. 11 attacks in the US, we must recognize is down, but by no means out. There are fragile states to contend with, as well as the dangers of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, authoritarian regimes and the threat of extremism. Globalization has also thrown up non-traditional security challenges with no respect for national frontiers. Global pandemics can spread faster; a lack of secure and sustainable energy could push us into a worldwide recession; and climate change, beyond its environmental consequences, could have serious geopolitical and social repercussions.

Multilateral engagement is essential for dealing with these threats. The EU has multilateralism in its DNA. Others, too, can benefit from its experience. Europeans are long-standing champions of the UN and international cooperation, and continually seek to ensure that stability, freedom, democracy and justice prevail as cornerstones of international relations. The EU is also doing its share of the heavy lifting. It has nearly 100,000 peacekeepers, police and combat troops on the ground, helping to consolidate peace in the world’s hot spots. At the political level, too, the EU is increasingly shouldering its share of the burden. An example was the EU mission to Moscow and Tbilisi by French President Nicholas Sarkozy and myself. This allowed us to make concrete progress on implementation of the EU’s six-point ceasefire plan between Russia and Georgia.

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