Globalizing European Security

Global security – a safe and peaceful environment free of conflict – is a public good: all of the world’s citizens and countries benefit from it, regardless of whether they contribute to supplying it. But, when it comes to global stability, the world simply cannot afford a free-riding Europe.

MADRID – Global security – a safe and peaceful environment free of conflict – is a public good. In other words, all of the world’s citizens and countries benefit from it, regardless of whether they contribute to supplying it. Given this, free riders (those who enjoy the benefits of the good without investing in its provision) are likely to be plentiful. But, when it comes to global stability, the world simply cannot afford a free-riding Europe.

To be sure, given Europe’s violent past, the European Union’s greatest contribution to international security has been to ensure stability in its own region. Today, nearly a century after the outbreak of World War I, peace and stability are firmly entrenched in Europe.

Other regions, however, are volatile and unstable. For example, strategic tinderboxes like the Middle East and Southeast Asia lack the regional security structures with which Europe is endowed. The Middle East’s geographic proximity means that Europe cannot ignore it, while it would be folly to ignore Southeast Asia’s economic weight.

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