Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

EU leaders to hail benefits of globalisation

  • UK prime minister Gordon Brown is said to be behind the declaration (Photo: European Community)

Now that the EU's six-year long institutional impasse has ended, the 27-nation bloc is turning its attention to the outside challenge of globalisation – something that is to be highlighted by a fresh declaration at today's EU summit, suggesting the phenomenon should become "a source of opportunity rather than a threat".

"Globalisation is increasingly shaping our lives by fostering the exchange of people, goods, services and ideas and by offering new opportunities to citizens and business", states the opening paragraph of the EU declaration on globalisation, seen by EUobserver.

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The paper continues by saying that "greater trade flows and economic growth have increased prosperity, transforming the lifestyles of Europe's citizens and lifting millions worldwide out of poverty".

The idea to have a specific declaration on the economic benefits of globalised economies is mainly attributed to UK prime minister Gordon Brown, who once described properly-managed globalisation as "a force for good".

"The union has always promoted free trade and openness as a means to foster growth, employment and development for itself and its trading partners and intends to continue taking the lead in this domain", the text says, clearly reflecting the liberal economic philosophy pursued by London.

The declaration has also been welcomed in some of the countries that joined the EU club in 2004, with one diplomat from a new member state telling EUobserver that "we felt that the effects of globalisation had sometime been wrongly attributed to EU enlargement".

"Globalisation will not disappear and therefore, the EU should take an advantage of it", the diplomat added.

Nevertheless, the declaration takes into account some concerns about the phenomenon, expressed mainly in Paris.

"The European Union will press for increasingly open markets which should lead to reciprocal benefits (...) Our partners must also demonstrate openness, on the basis of internationally agreed rules, in particular as concerns fair competition and the protection of intellectual property rights", the paper states.

The wording is a clear response to France's aim to protect home-grown industries from cheap imports as well as to its push for the so-called principle of reciprocity, meaning trading partners should open their markets as much as the EU does.

"Let's not be naive, we must demand a reciprocity", president Nicolas Sarkozy said in October, when the issue was debated by EU leaders for the first time.

He complained about the 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", he said, singling out Russia and China.

In general, the declaration - to be adopted later on Friday (14 December) - is widely seen as a bargain between the UK and France, as Mr Sarkozy needed London's approval for his own idea to set up a reflection group designed to sketch the best political recipe for how to deal with Europe's future major challenges.

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