Presidents of the World Leaders Forum and of Columbia University,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank the World Leaders Forum for inviting me today and for your kind words of introduction. Also, thank you for giving me this opportunity to have an open debate with so many students of the prestigious Columbia University in New York. Following in the footsteps of so many leaders from this country and around the world, I am very happy to make Europe's voice heard today.
I will try to explain how Europe is developing its global role in this post-crisis world.
A former President of the United States - and former President of this University - Dwight D. Eisenhower, once said that an intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to say more than he knows.
I will try and avoid being too intellectual in this presentation.
Let me start by giving you some basic facts about the European Union, which illustrate the enormous changes it has gone through since its birth back in 1957.
The European Union started with just 6 Member States, but is now composed of 27 countries, stretching from the Atlantic to the Black Sea and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic; it is one of the most highly developed regions in the world, with a population of 500 million. It is a single, dynamic market. It is a social market economy, from which certain very big countries, in other continents, seem to be drawing inspiration!
It has a single currency — the euro, which in just a few years has become the second currency in the world. It is the leading trading and exporting power in the world and the second largest source of foreign direct investment. It is an increasingly committed player in peace and security. It is the world's number one donor of development aid. The Union is also an active political player, with regional and global security interests and responsibilities. In the last ten years, the EU has launched and carried out more than 23 military and civilian missions worldwide.
This European Union is a natural and strong partner for the United States. Together, we account for about 12 % of the world population and over 50 % of world GDP. We are also economically interdependent. Our economic relationship is by far the largest between any two trading blocs in history. Our bilateral trading partnership generates 33 % of world trade in goods and 44 % of world trade in services.
These figures alone would be enough to make the European Union a central partner of the United States. However our relation goes far beyond trade and is much deeper than statistics. We share a powerful common bound: the same foundational values of liberty and democracy and a long relationship built on friendship and trust.
We also share common strategic and political interests. I think we can safely say that no other partnership is so intense and rich as the transatlantic one.
This very important relationship between the European Union and the United States must be seen in the context of unprecedented global interdependence. The economic and financial crisis brought this phenomenon into focus with a sharpness never seen before. This interdependence is combined with a shift in power from the old ‘West’ to both East and South, with new powers emerging, like China, India, Brazil and others.
A new worldwide governance system is being put in place against this background. The whole world has to come up with new, effective answers to worldwide imbalances and other factors generating insecurity.
No country, no matter how powerful it may be — not even the United States — is able to tackle the challenges of the 21st century on its own. We either stand together and prosper or we fall separately. This is a fact of life in the 21st century.
From global security to economic growth and trade, from energy security to climate protection, a convincing global response is ultimately impossible without active cooperation between Europe and the United States.
In today's world, where the tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting, Europe is the United States' indispensable partner for building a multilateral world that integrates emerging powers.
First, the European Union has the political culture to play this role. Second, it now has the institutional set-up to achieve this ambition. Third, the current economic crisis has given Europe renewed political will both to strengthen its internal coordination and to play its part on the world scene.
The European Union is neither a federal state nor a traditional intergovernmental organisation. It is a Union of States that have freely decided to share parts of their sovereignty to solve common problems, through common policies.
Europe is itself a testbed for globalisation. Its political culture makes it particularly able to adapt to a multipolar and globalised context. Because of the very nature of our political set-up with 27 Member States, we Europeans experience every day how to share political leadership. We have what I call a ‘culture of dynamic compromise’ that has proved pretty successful over the years. Above all, we have a positive-sum vision of politics, not a zero-sum view. Multilateralism is therefore in our DNA. And this is precisely the political added-value that Europe can bring to the new emerging world order.
We also now have additional means of action that give the European Union new opportunities to play its role in global affairs.
Our new ‘rules of procedure’ — the Lisbon Treaty — entered into force in December 2009. This Treaty gives us ways to act more efficiently inside Europe and means to defend Europe’s interests on the world stage.
This institutional development is the political translation of broader changes. The European Union’s position on the international stage has changed dramatically in recent years. We are now progressively speaking with one voice across a range of areas — from global economic governance to trade and crisis response, from climate change to energy.
These enhanced means of action are particularly welcome at a time when Europe and the world are facing the unprecedented challenge of the economic and financial crisis.
This brings me to my third point: the current economic crisis has given the European Union a sense of urgency and a renewed political will to reinforce European unity and to take on global responsibilities.
The history of European integration shows, time and again, that when a crisis hits, we stick closer together. And we come out stronger. Just as Europe will come out of the current crisis stronger.
This phase of the crisis was the biggest ‘stress test’ that Europe has faced for many decades. We have passed it.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have just told you how Europe has renovated itself to remain a central player, a reference player, on the world stage; I have argued for a strong transatlantic agenda as one of the pillars of global governance, now I would like to turn to the issues where we can make progress together and where the rest of the world expects us to lead the way.
The first one is to ensure a strong, stable and sustainable recovery of the world economy, based on mutually beneficial growth. The economic outlook is improving: growth will be higher than forecast this year and unemployment has stopped increasing. But nothing would be more dangerous than a return to business as usual.
The crisis is not over yet. Restoring growth and creating jobs is now the number one priority of the United States and the European Union, as it is for our G20 partners from other parts of the world.
Europe and the United States were the two founding fathers of the G20, mainly as way to weather the economic and financial crisis. Now the G20 has turned into the the premier forum for international economic cooperation, and both Europe and the US have to be at the forefront of its agenda.
The second area that has huge mutually beneficial potential is trade. Trade is one of the keys to growth and jobs. Trade is an area where we can boost growth without an impact on deficits and debt. This is a taxpayer-friendly policy!
In October, the Commission will present a renewed trade policy. We want to harness closer trade relations with the most dynamic regions of the world. We will open up more markets for Europe and more job opportunities by concluding new free trade agreements with all corners of the globe, like South Korea, Singapore, Mercosur and many others.
Europe remains open to the world and will continue to promote open trade. We will not change our stance because of the current crisis. But we are saying, loud and clear, that development of trade needs to be balanced.
The figures for bilateral trade between the European Union and the United States are quite impressive at 610 billion euros last year, but they are still way below what they could be. I see an ample margin to enhance further our mutual interest on regulatory convergence and on non tariff barriers. I see huge potential in developing a transatlantic agenda for growth and jobs.
We also need a new global engagement. Conclusion of the Doha Development Round would provide a stimulus to the world's economies. An ambitious Doha agreement is within reach if there is a political will and a strategic vision. We must seize this opportunity. Those negotiations are too important to fail. Europe is fully committed to this process.
Climate change is, of course, another very important issue on which we need to work together in order to secure an international, legally binding agreement.
Let me be clear: the Copenhagen conference did not meet all Europe’s expectations, but it was an important step forward. We need to press ahead. The climate change problem is still there. Now the focus has turned to Cancun. We need to make progress there in the form of a series of action-oriented decisions which will pave the way for the post-2012 international framework. Of course, such a ‘package’ has to be balanced. It must reflect the interests and concerns of developed and developing countries alike.
The European Union on its side remains committed to this agenda and is continuing to provide leadership. Our climate legislation for 2020 is in place. We are putting into action our ambitious target for a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We remain ready to move to 30 %, provided we see commitments from other developed countries, including the United States, and adequate action from developing countries, especially from emerging economies.
The EU Member States have also committed to make available 7.2 billion euros of fast-start funding between 2010 and 2012. They will keep their promise.
Time is running out and it is clear that we need to change gear now.
The European Union and the United States also have a leading role to play in giving new impetus to the millennium development goals. This is what I did on behalf of the European Union yesterday at the UN high-level meeting on the MDGs. The final countdown has begun on the 2015 deadline. The international community still has a long way to go before the millennium goals are reached. No one should use the economic crisis as an excuse to postpone this crucial ethical commitment. The EU provides 58 % of development aid worldwide. This added up to 63 billion US dollars in 2009. Yesterday, the European Union demonstrated its commitment to stand side by side with developing countries by offering up to 1 billion euros to the most committed and vulnerable African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to support their efforts to achieve the MDGs.
Achieving the millennium development goals is not an option. It is not a luxury. It is both an obligation and an investment. The world cannot thrive on imbalances. We need a spirit of partnership, with developing countries taking ownership of the millennium goals and responsibility for management of resources, and developed countries showing accountability for their promises. This is the price we have to pay in order to get results for everyone.
Lastly, safeguarding global security at large has also become a task we must share.
The European Union is not shirking this responsibility. It is becoming increasingly active — and being recognised as effective — in its role as a spreader of peace and security in the world. We are taking part in crisis management operations in four continents. From Georgia to Kosovo, from Afghanistan to a number of African countries, we are engaging globally.
Our approach to security is a comprehensive which includes development, reconstruction and humanitarian aid. In the humanitarian field we are the leading player in the world, providing assistance to 18 million people every year, including now in Pakistan. Europe with its unique display of smart power is an irreplaceable ally of the United States in securing peace and stability throughout the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Europe is a global player pursuing a political vision inspired by its values of freedom, justice and solidarity, and by a spirit of partnership.
These same values are also in the fabric of the US society and system. The ties that bind us are second to none. Together we can achieve what we cannot alone.