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European Values in the Age of Globalization

How does the European Commission view the challenges for EU members?

November 7, 2005

How does the European Commission view the challenges for EU members?

Europe — and specifically the EU — was supposed to be the model for the future of all political entites. Though still groundbreaking, the European experiment continues to be beset with lingering problems that call its future into question. In this Globalist Document, the European Commission lays out its plans for a future characterized by increased competition from regions such as Asia.

Europe must reform and modernize its policies to preserve its values. Modernization is essential to keep Europe’s historically high levels of prosperity, social cohesion, environmental protection and quality of life.

Today, the Europe of dynamism, innovation and openness, of 3G mobile communications or the World Wide Web, sits side by side with the Europe of 19 million unemployed, child poverty and stagnant growth, where too many are excluded from opportunity and prosperity.

This is an uncomfortable duality which undermines the many achievements of the European Union and its member states after a half century of peace and improved living standards.

For several decades after the creation of the European Community, the existing structures helped to deliver outcomes which matched the ambitions of the Community as it was. But this is increasingly no longer the case.

Growth is slowing, structural unemployment remains high and inequalities are rising. Unless we are able to change, the forces of global competition, the impact of new technologies and our ageing population will increase the gap between the two Europes, and between Europe and the world.

Our economic success and the financial viability of our social systems — pensions, welfare, health — are called into question. This is not simply a matter of economics or public finances. This is first and foremost a question of social justice. This is about the kind of Europe we want our children to live in — and how we pay for it. The status quo is not an option.

With growth, and more Europeans in more productive jobs, we can achieve the outcomes which meet Europeans’ expectations and values. By acting in the areas that matter most, we can advance European integration. Growth and jobs is a truly European agenda.

The need for change is widely recognized — for example in the reform process launched in Lisbon in March 2000. But this analysis has not yet been fully translated into action.

Europe can no longer afford to wait. Because what is different five years on is the added sense of urgency. Global competition, particularly from Asia, has intensified.

Cutting-edge knowledge is no longer confined to Europe or North America. Indian universities are turning out more than a quarter of a million engineers every year.

The good news is that we are not starting from scratch. Important reforms have already been launched in many member states. These build on the stability offered by the euro and economic and monetary union. All have committed themselves to going further and faster.

And we have the new Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs, launched this year. Furthermore, the European Union is uniquely well placed to help this transformation. Economic and monetary union and the euro offer a backdrop of stability and low inflation.

Now Europe can use its scale, as the biggest trading block in the world, to help deliver ambitious and balanced solutions to international problems from climate change to trade.

EU funding and programs can play a significant role in supporting national action, which makes the need for an agreement on the future financial perspectives before the end of the year all the more important.

Our external instruments, from enlargement to development policy, can spread prosperity and security beyond Europe’s existing borders.

There can be no partial solutions. No single country can meet these challenges alone. Acting together at a European and national level, we can give Europe a future.

We can have a strong voice, projecting European vision and European values among our partners around the world.

Adapted from “European Values in the Globalised World,” by the European Commission, published October 20, 2005. For the full-length report, click here.