Monday, 1 September 2014

Our Collective Interest: Why Europe’s problems need global solutions and global problems need European action

In 2010, the European Think Tanks Group published a report addressed to a new leadership in the European Union (EU). In 2014, welcoming a new team of European leaders, we again call attention to the importance of a global perspective in European policy-making. This report is issued in the name of our four institutions (Overseas Development Institute, ECDPMGerman Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik and FRIDE) and of the 26 authors who have contributed to the text. It calls for a new understanding of the EU’s global role, and in particular, a new approach to international development.

Press release: The EU should look outwards or risk further instability - warn leading European think tanks

The key message is that the EU’s ambitions for its own citizens – for prosperity, peace and environmental sustainability – cannot be divorced from its global responsibilities and opportunities. As the title of the report suggests, Europe’s problems need global solutions, and global problems need European action. A shared collective effort is in our common interest.

Seen from within Europe, the rest of the world is a vital source of raw materials, manufactured products, markets, innovation and cultural enrichment. It can also be a source of environmental degradation and insecurity. The EU can only benefit if the rest of the world, and developing countries in particular, pursue a path of successful sustainable development.

Seen from the outside, the EU is a source of goods and services, of technology, of aid, and of inclusive and accountable political and social models. At its best, the EU can offer technical, institutional and financial contributions to global public good. However, it can also be a factor in financial and political instability.

We identify five global challenges which will shape the future of the EU and the world, and in relation to which the EU’s performance as a global actor can be judged. These are:
  • The world economy. Is the world economy becoming more equitable, resilient and democratic? Is the EU contributing to better and more inclusive trade and finance regimes, which allow for full participation by all? 
  • Environmental sustainability. Is the world set on a more sustainable path, in which the EU is playing its 
part internally and externally, especially with regard to climate change and the necessity of a green 
  • Peace and security. Is the world becoming more peaceful and secure? And is the EU contributing to the prevention of violent conflict and to peaceful societies? 
  • Democracy and human rights. Is the world better governed and more democratic? Is there greater 
respect for human rights around the world? And is the EU acting effectively to understand and support 
democratic political change? 
  • Poverty and inequality. Have poverty and inequality declined? And is the EU acting effectively to understand and tackle the drivers of poverty and inequality?