(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
A world without Europe: does it matter?
I would like to congratulate you on the blunt title that you chose for this debate. You put just the right question. “A world without Europe: does it matter?”. My answer? “It does matter indeed”. For five important reasons, at least. 1. First of all, a world without Europe would be more unstable and more unsafe. Let me elaborate on this point. The frontiers of Europe have changed in the last 50 years. Fines Europae has been a blurred notion that follows the waves of democracy, freedom and rule of law. Since the founding fathers of the European Union started their visionary project, the frontiers of Europe have been demarcated by those same lines of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. This principle was confirmed by the fifth enlargement, when twelve former communist countries became members of the EU. The EU has acted as a “magnet”, attracting its external neighbours and transforming and integrating them. The enlargement of the EU has brought peace, security and economic prosperity. Thanks to its favourable prospects for EU membership, the Balkan area is no longer a powder keg. Europe is a stabilising factor. Accordingly, a world without Europe would have been a more perilous world. Obviously, if we had not succeeded in this integration project of the founding fathers, Europe – as a geographical location – would have continued to exist. However, in this globalised world, in which the various actors are protagonists only when they are big enough to make a difference, the small States of a fragmented Europe would have been doomed to irrelevance.
2. The second part of my answer is related to the first. Since the Second World War, Europe has become a political paradigm of democracy and multilateralism. Europe favours dialogue, mutual understanding and peaceful responses to problems, preferring persuasion to coercion. This attitude is an effect of our tragic history and remains the fundamental basis of the European reconciliation process.
We Italians -on the eve of the celebrations of our 150th anniversary- know what it took to create a united Italy, where every town had learnt to hate its neighbour over long centuries of servitude to foreign powers. It was a much harder task to create Europe. The people of Europe have had to discard a whole world of prejudice, fear and resentment. As Europeans, we had a clear goal: to bring to an end the wars that had destroyed our countries. We then established a transforming model of power – political, economic and of values – that is worthy of imitation.
Against this background, we must conclude that without Europe the world would have been more confrontational and more divided. European mediation and intervention brought an end to recent military clashes, such as those between Russia and Georgia or between Lebanon and Israel. Thus, without Europe the world would have missed the chance to see how a continent –once it has been reconciled – can become a power multiplier that is able to add value to and project the weight of its member states.
3. I would like to make a third point by recalling the positive contributions that European policies and stances bring to the international arena. A world without Europe would most certainly be poorer. Not only does Europe remain, even in the face of the recent economic difficulties, one of the richest regions of the world. But also, and above all, without Europe and its surveillance and solidarity mechanisms, without the coordinated European reaction to the financial crisis, the economic downturn would have been more severe.
A world without Europe would be poorer for another reason too. The global recession has hit world trade flows very hard indeed. Yet we know that trade boosts growth and prosperity – and so we oppose protectionism. I have often raised the issue of the negative impact of the protectionist measures adopted by some trade partners in the aftermath of the economic crisis. A recent study indicates that the total gain for the Doha round countries could be as much as $280 billion each year. Trade gains of this magnitude would enlarge the GDP of the Doha round participants.An agreement on Doha would thus offer universal economic benefits by reducing subsidies, opening up new markets, and spurring investment.
And without Europe we would have a less open world. Nevertheless, as President Barroso recently said, being open to the world also means standing side-by-side with developing countries, and especially with Africa. In 2009 the European Union and its Member States gave a total of €49 billion in development aid, which globally makes the EU by far the largest donor, representing 56% of global aid. Accordingly, last-week in New York, the EU’s position at the Millennium Development Goals High-Level Event, to which Italy contributed, was a call for a more action-oriented form of solidarity with all our partners and stakeholders in development.
Our humanitarian aid to Pakistan is the latest example of Europe's solidarity in action. The Italian government is implementing an 80 million euro aid package to alleviate the distress of the Pakistani population. But, as I stressed at the United Nations General Assembly, simply providing aid is not enough: we need to act more wisely. That is why, at the last European Council, Italy (with UK support) called for new trade measures to increase market access for Pakistani goods and underpin the country’s economic recovery.
4. Fourth, a world without Europe would also be less free and tolerant. Being a global player means standing up for our values. Human rights are not negotiable. It is imperative to defend the universal validity of fundamental rights and avoid the risks of relativism. Europe and Italy are well-equipped to play an important part in this commitment, not least on the strength of a humanistic heritage that affirms the human being as the measure of all things. True to this heritage, the Italian government has promoted a campaign for a moratorium on the application of the death penalty.
Italy is also strongly committed to protecting freedom of religion. We will always oppose discrimination against religious minorities. In this regard, I wish to recall the action undertaken by Italy, together with its EU partners, to submit a UN resolution on religious intolerance. And another important target of our action is the international initiative to ban female genital mutilation that Italy together with a group of African Countries has promoted since September 2009
5. Fifth, a world without Europe would be less innovative too. For example, it is only through joint European efforts in the research field that ambitious scientific programmes such as “Galileo”, which aims to develop the first satellite navigation and positioning system for civilian purposes, can be carried out. Such research is a powerful tool that can boost Europe’s competitiveness, to the benefit of the entire international community.
In conclusion, Europe helps us to create a better world. If we want to make this input even stronger, we need to pool our efforts to achieve a more integrated Europe. Especially in the security field, because -since September 11th- we have been living through a period in which we are faced with new and growing forms of global instability: failed states, low-intensity conflicts, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, piracy, kidnappings…Ensuring our security involves a growing need to formulate a coordinated European response to these and other universal issues, such as illegal migration and energy security, that cannot be performed effectively at a national or local level.
In compliance with the subsidiarity principle, if we want that our action could bring added value over and above what could be achieved by individual or member-state government action alone, Europe should play a greater political role by promptly articulating its own global proposals and solutions instead of lingering on and bickering. The founding fathers of the EU answered the call of history. Now it is our turn to show responsible leadership and overcome petty politics. To this end, Italy and the UK can work together with strong determination to strengthen and enhance the crucial political process that leads to reliable, visible and convincing European policies.