Foreign Affairs

Speech of EP President Jerzy Buzek launching the Notre-Europe EU-US task force report "Reshaping EU-US Relations"

Brussels -
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am particularly glad to be able to open today's conference which launches the report by Notre Europe on "Reshaping EU-US Relations".

On the American side of the Atlantic we have witnessed the historic election of Barack Obama in 2008 and are approaching his mid-term. Here in Europe, we have elected a new Commission, implemented a new treaty which has strengthened the European Parliament, but also brought to life a joint external action service and made the European Council a full institution of the Union.

It is important that we take the time to reflect on where we wish the transatlantic relation to go in the future.

This report is timely, and it proposes a doctrine which calls for a new Euro-American partnership to meet the world's most pressing challenges.

Dear Friends,

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight one particular aspect of this doctrine which I find particularly important - the need for a new form of global governance.

As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, the relative power which Europe has had will decrease. By the year 2025, OECD countries will produce only 40% of the world's wealth, as compared to 55% in 2000, while Asia's share will increase to 38%, practically on par with the OECD.

At the same time the United States and Europe together will account for only 9% of the world's population, as compared to 50% for Asia. But our population is not only becoming smaller, it is also becoming older.

For the European Union the share of the total population aged 65 years or over is projected to increase to almost 24% in 2030, up from 17% in 2008.

If we break those numbers down further and take into account the working population the numbers are striking.

In 2008, where one hundred persons of working age supported twenty-five persons aged 65 or over, in 2030 they are projected to support thirty eight persons!

The hard truth is that the so-called "West" is no longer able to resolve major international challenges individually. We need to cooperate. But we need to cooperate not just between ourselves; we need to use our relationship to change the way international governance functions.

As the report highlights, the Euro-American partnership could become a springboard for world governance. Our interdependence makes us stronger. As the nation-state-based approach gives way to multilateral ones, there is a growing need to build a common set of principles for future interaction.

In order to solve the challenges that exist today, such as Iran, North Korea, climate change, or even the economic crisis, we also need to cooperate with Russia, China, India and other regional powers.

I have mentioned this before, the regulatory framework we have set up after the financial crisis will only work if it is also accepted by Mumbai and Shanghai and not just New York, London and Frankfurt.

Dear Friends,

I believe Europe should see this new governance as an opportunity. It will allow us to help promote our values, which are far from being universal.

We have shown that we can be a leader - for example in fighting climate change; or in proposing steps to fight the economic crisis as we did at the G20.

We have demonstrated that our security model of "soft" power - of diplomacy, economic cooperation instead of military intervention, and a belief that democracy can not be brought by force has also proven to work - dialogue and multilateral negotiations are necessary.

I fundamentally believe that our political model of sharing sovereignty, of solidarity, both economic and political solidarity can be a model for the world.

But in order to succeed, we need a partnership which knows how to defend particular interests and share power and responsibility with others. Only then can we reach the goals which are common for all countries in the world.

This has to be the core for our future EU-US partnership.

This is why we need collective governance on a world-wide scale; otherwise the 21st century will be a century of instability and not stability.

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to conclude by quoting Zbigniew BrzeziƄski who wrote that: "America and Europe together serve as the axis of global stability, the locomotive of the world's economy, and the nexus of global intellectual capital as well as technological innovation".

Today, we might not agree with all elements of this observation but there is no denying that an effective Euro-American partnership is the springboard for both U.S. and EU global involvement. America and Europe still serve as an axis of global stability; and we are still home to the world's most successful democracies.

But, a springboard is not sufficient to make a good jump. We must seek to engage other world actors to resolve most pressing challenges, but we have to take the initiative. The Euro-American partnership must be the core for a truly multilateral order for a globalised world.

Thank you.