The markets and opinions have highly reacted to the European financial crisis and some have spelled the doom of the Euro and of the EU itself. High-level EU politicians are not seeing it that way. On the contrary, they view the crisis as an opportunity to make the changes that those who run the Union know needs to be made to turn it into the pre-eminent world empire.
According to EU President Manuel Barroso the EU is an empire, and he is not alone in his thinking. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Union Parliament, and former Belgian Prime Minister wrote “The Age of Empires” in November 2008. This paper refers to the EU as an empire and that the US financial crisis marked the end of the US era and ushered in a multi-polar world and age of empires.
During Barroso’s speech on November 9, 2011, in Berlin, he urged his listeners that, “The bi-polar system of the world before 1989 has been replaced by a multi-polar, more unstable and more unpredictable world.” And “if Europe wants to play its role in this new world, our nation states must realize that they do not have the power or influence to do so alone.”
After making statements that have almost become cliché, such as Europe’s challenges are even greater, their ambition must be stronger, not weaker; to ensure Europe’s continued prosperity the EU needs to match its monetary union with an economic union; the world needs a stronger Europe, more Europe, not less, Mr. Barroso shot a verbal missile when he stated, “Provided there is the political will, the greatest emerging power in the world will be the European Union.”
To accomplish this Barroso intends to to finish the unfinished business of Maastricht – to complete the monetary union with a truly economic union. Barroso has reason for so much confidence, the EU accounts for the world’s largest market, larger than the U.S., In 2007 the U.S. lost its seat as the world’s largest economy to the EU. The Euro, which was launched in 1999 amidst great pessimism, soon became the world’s second reserve currency.
Germany, the EU’s largest and the world’s third-largest economy in 2010, exported more goods and services to the Netherlands (around 15 million inhabitants) than to China, to France than to the US, to Poland than to Russia, to Spain than to Brazil, to Hungary than to India. In the same year, Germany exported almost five times as many goods to the rest of the European Union than it did to the BRICs countries altogether.
Barroso outlined five areas of immediate change. The Commission will place the governance of the Euro area within the Treaty framework. It will step up surveillance for Euro Member States and further co-decision regulation. It will come up with conditions for monitoring national budgetary policies. Thirdly, it will make proposals towards a more consolidated European voice and representation in international institutions such as the IMF. Fourthly, they will present a green paper on Euro stability bonds. Some of them can be implemented within the current Treaty, fully fledged ‘Eurobonds’ will require Treaty change. The fifth element of the economic governance package will be the 2012 Annual Growth Survey, which will set out the priorities for policies towards more growth and jobs in the EU. In addition, Barroso assigned Commissioner Olli Rehn, the task of Commission Vice President for economic and monetary affairs and the Euro.
Finally Barroso urged his listeners to choose the path of strength over weakness. Unity over fragmentation. He stated that this is not a sprint but a marathon. While Barroso sees the potential for the EU to become the greatest emerging power in the world, he knows it will take some work to get there.
For the text of the full speech see:
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