Tuesday 20 November 2007

Challenges require EU reforms

When the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke at the College of Europe, in Bruges, he mentioned challenges the nation-states are too small and global governance too weak to deal with. The defining challenges of the 21st century are global in scope, not national.

According to Miliband, the insecurities and threats of 2030 are clear. A Europe at war not within its borders, but struggling to cope with forces beyond its borders. Global capital, people and goods with whom it has not made peace. Religious extremism and division on its doorstep. Energy insecurity and climate change which threatens our security as well as our prosperity. Conflict and instability in regions where we have economic as well as moral interests.


In spite of Miliband’s repeated assurances that the European Union will never be a superstate or even a superpower, his vision of the challenges leads to the logical conclusion that there is a need for the EU to review its objectives and means completely: strategies, institutions, resources and policies.

James Rogers, on his blog Global Power Europe, commented on this lack of logical follow-through. Both soft and hard power is needed.

I am going to look at the challenges Miliband mentioned with a view to the future priorities of the European Union.

External security is the fundamental common good, but the individual member states of the European Union are not going to be able to achieve it on their own. The time is ripe for the EU member states to forge an effective foreign, security and defence policy, leading to a common defence. It is necessary that the EU and NATO put their turf wars behind them and reach a fruitful division of labour, encompassing a working Transatlantic relationship.

Soft power has great scope for further action concerning EU enlargement, neighbourhood policy, open and fair trade rules, development assistance and humanitarian action. European values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law are among our best potential exports for a better world.

Climate change and energy security require both a coherent foreign policy and a functioning internal market.

Internal security includes the control of our external borders and action to prevent terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration. We need common rules for legal immigration of qualified workers and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Economic growth and new jobs require action to enhance European competitiveness. Globalisation offers many possibilities for the willing and, despite temporary relief, many pitfalls for the protectionists unwilling to reform.

Solidarity towards the new member states has to find adequate expressions, which better create real European common goods than the present agricultural and cohesion spending, which should be phased out.

These strategic political priorities should lay the ground for continued institutional reforms: effective decision making and democratic accountability.

These strategic priorities should be the foundation for the necessary reforms of the next long term budgets of the European Union.

Ralf Grahn


David Miliband: Europe 2030: Model power not superpower; Bruges, 15 November 2007; http://www.fco.gov.uk

James Rogers: David Miliband says ’no’ to a European superpower; Global Power Europe, 16 November 2007; http://www.globalpowereurope.eu

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