Europe’s Rising Global Role

BRUSSELS – Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the contours of world order remain 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 European Union is, I believe, uniquely suited to take on its leadership responsibilities.

Asia and Europe have been well served by economic globalization. Asia’s dynamic economies supply the world, and its remarkable economic growth 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 assert themselves self-confidently as global powers. Europe has capitalized on globalization to consolidate its position as the world’s major economy and trader.

But globalization also increases competition and exposes weaknesses. Workers globally fear for their jobs and feel 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 current and future generations. The EU has led the discussion within its own structures and taken it to wider international fora. We welcome the emerging economies’ call for reform of global institutions.