EU vows to shape globalisation
Having finally put six years of institutional wrangling behind it with last week's agreement on a new treaty, the 27-nation EU says it is now confident to face outside challenges.
In December, EU leaders are expected to adopt a declaration, which should underline the bloc's change of priorities – moving from institutional matters towards issues such as globalisation and climate change.
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"We have agreed that we should rule out further institutional change for years ahead", UK prime minister Gordon Brown said on Friday (19 October) – something he said he personally hoped would be the case for at least a decade.
The union now has less than two months to agree a list of new priorities linked to globalisation and subsequently move on to agreeing the best political recipe for how to deal with the phenomenon.
According to the European Commission, the EU should avoid being a passive spectator, but rather "shape" globalisation.
In practice, it is promoting the so-called principle of reciprocity - meaning trading partners should open their markets as much as the EU does.
"We should be open, but not naive. We should not close our doors, rather we should encourage others to open theirs", commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said, suggesting that openness is a two-way street and that third countries should offer comparable levels of openness to EU exporters and investors.
In addition, foreign companies wishing to do business in EU territory should not be allowed to by-pass the rules applied in the union's internal market.
Speaking at the EU summit Friday (19 October), French president Nicolas Sarkozy proved to be the strongest advocate of such a principle.
"Let's not be naive, we must demand a reciprocity", he said, complaining about the severe environmental and social requirements placed upon EU businesses, but not followed by their non-European competitors.
"We have to remind others there are rights as well as obligations", Mr Sarkozy added, singling out Russia and China.