Discurso do secretário de estado adjunto e dos assuntos Europeus, Manuel Lobo Antunes, durante a sessão plenária do Parlamento Europeu – “A preocupação Europeia: para superar o desafio da globalização”

«The European concern: to overcome the challenge of globalisation»
The presidency’s declaration during the plenary session of the European Parliament, on 12 to 15 November 2007
Manuel Lobo Antunes, secretary of state assistant and for European affairs

«Globalisation is not just a phenomenon we have to analyse in terms of economic consequences and technological implications. For you, honourable members of the European Parliament, for the ministers of the Council of the European Union, for all of us, politicians, it is essentially a question of political nature.

It is about people who lose their jobs, regions in crisis, economic sectors that disappear, new security and environmental threats. But it is also about new job opportunities, new production sectors and lower prices for a wide range of products, contributing for a better allocation of financial resources and commerce growth in both the goods and services areas.

Globalisation increases, as never seen before in the history of mankind, the flux of ideas, the contact among peoples. Perspectives for enrichment are great, in economic as well as cultural terms, but so are the risks of new instabilities of various kinds, on a planetary scale.

We are facing the challenge of giving form to this new interdependence, which is becoming more fluid, in an ever smaller world.

Above all, facing and regulating globalisation is a decisive question for our democracies, even for the concept of effective democracy – knowing whether we are capable of keeping, in the hands of our people and our elected representatives, the political control of fundamental options concerning economic governance and a whole range of other aspects in our lives.

I am convinced that, in several critical areas, we can only be efficient if we, in Europe, are capable of giving new collective political answers to the most serious problems of our time, such as economic growth and job creation, environment preservation, energy, migrations and fight against terrorism.

The EU has been renewing its internal policies, in order to ensure competitiveness and a just and sustainable development. Reinforcement of social cohesion and respect for the environment should guide economic reforms. Investment in research, innovation and education must be the central motor for growth and employment.

But we are not alone. It would be an irresponsible act to close ourselves to the outside world, convinced that selfishness is the  efficient path to follow. There are neither efficient walls nor fortresses in this world. We have to work together with other countries and regions so that we can all collect the benefits. Stability, freedom, security and prosperity can only be consistent and long-lasting if they are shared.

This is Europe’s calling. We must lead and shape globalisation in accordance with our principles and values – facing the outside world,  with a universalistic attitude, as it happened during the noblest moments of our common history.

Together, the EU and its Member States have shown they are capable of coping with common problems and challenges, making the most of their 50 year experience of integration. The new treaty – the Treaty of Lisbon – gives us institutional conditions of greater efficacy and transparency so that the Union is able to accomplish its role in the world.

The challenge is to secure and reinforce what we have reached so far and find ways to defend our interests and project our common values beyond our borders.

The revised Lisbon Strategy has supplied Europe with the framework to formulate the answer to this challenge. The launching of a new governance cycle gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the path we want to follow.

The Commission’s communication we are debating here today seems like an excellent starting point for debate, and has already become a reference for the discussion among heads of state and government at the Lisbon informal meeting held on 19 October.

At the Council, our work is based on this document. We are seeking to establish a set of reports that may contribute to the preparation of the Lisbon Strategy’s new cycle. This week’s ECOFIN Council already adopted conclusions; the Competitiveness Council of 22 November will also approve some reports and the Employment Council of 5 and 6 December anticipates the adoption of conclusions on the future of the European employment strategy, in the context of the Lisbon Strategy’s new cycle.

Other formations of the Council have been addressing themes that are relevant to the preparation of the new cycle.

I can confirm that, essentially, we agree with the Commission: the revised Lisbon Strategy must continue to be the adequate framework for the answer Europe has to find to deal with the main challenges we face, especially globalisation.

Europe is making significant progress. The goals that were set out and the four priority areas – employment, knowledge and innovation, business environment and energy and climate change – chosen in 2006 are still adequate. The new cycle must, in its broad terms, preserve the necessary stability to consolidate results; at the same time, it is important to introduce adjustments and improvements so that the revised Lisbon Strategy is capable of accomplishing its full potential.

The acceleration of reforms must be our priority, while taking advantage of the dynamics created by the progress already achieved, so that our economies can become more vigorous. The EU has global responsibilities and needs to reinforce its preparation to face globalisation. It must have a coherent and determined strategic reaction on a global level.

We must keep a strong commitment in the implementation, on a national level, for example, of measures that will allow us to deal better with the problems resulting from demographic alterations, with the quality of public finances and their sustainability in the long term, with the labour market, employment, social cohesion, with our domestic market, competitiveness, research and innovation, energy and climate changes, education and training.

In parallel, the Community Lisbon Programme has an important role to carry out in the new cycle, in order to guarantee, in a more efficient way, the necessary coherence of reforms. The Council’s and Parliament’s ownership must be reinforced and the exchange of good practices among Member States must be deepened.

The migration phenomenon has, in this context of globalisation, a fundamental role, by making a contribution in terms of increasing the growth potential and facilitating adjustments. According to a recent report presented this week to the Council, about the effects of this reality on the mobility of the work factor, demographic growth in the European Union is ever more supported by migratory fluxes. The report highlighted the fact that these migratory fluxes decisively contribute to the reinforcement of the necessary flexibility to face shocks and to compensate low levels of intra-regional mobility.

In this globalised context, the external dimension of the Lisbon Strategy must by reinforced and deepened, projecting the EU’s political and economic objectives, as well as its social and environmental standards, beyond its borders.

As you know, this was the issue discussed at the informal meeting, during the debate held by the heads of government and state, where we especially expanded the themes concerning the instability of financial markets and climate change.

This political debate, which counted with the participation of this assembly’s president, was interesting and stimulating, and reinforced our faith in the future.

Just as Prime Minister José Sócrates has already pointed out in this Parliament, Europe has the conditions and the obligation to lead the globalisation process, taking advantage of new opportunities that have been created, including those in the area of ideas and culture interchange. On reinforcing the relationship among peoples and the interdependency among nations, the EU decisively contributes to world peace and stability.

Europe has the political and institutional conditions to consistently meet the challenges of globalisation, in economic, social and environmental terms, thus influencing the globalisation process. We need a stronger strategic cooperation with our partners, in order to develop a new global agenda that combines the mutual opening of markets, the improvement of environmental, social, financial, and intellectual property standards, and the need to support the institutional capacity of developing countries.

Just as was announced by Prime Minister José Sócrates at the end of the Lisbon informal meeting, a EU declaration on globalisation will be approved during the European Summit on 13 and 14 December. This declaration will be a clear sign, before all citizens and the world, of the European leaders’ determination and commitment to encourage the Union’s capacity to influence the globalisation agenda and find the necessary answers.

The challenges we face are both difficult and stimulating.

The presidency will continue to be interested in facing these challenges. We rely, as we always have, on the support of the European Parliament to promote and develop an effort emanating from the EU and its Member States that is devised on a global level, and which will allow Europe to assume its responsibilities in a world context and meet future challenges successfully.

Sometimes we tend to forget what Europe means to so many people in this globalised world. The images of fainted immigrants on our shores are a cruel reminder of that reality – how privileged we are here in Europe. Europe has become a bastion of hope in the possibility of building a model that combines freedom, economic growth, social justice and environment preservation into a logic of partnership, cooperation and shared responsibility. It isn’t just our success, as Europeans, which is at stake. «A stronger Union for a better world» – is the motto of our presidency, as you know. And, in fact, we sincerely believe that Europe must have a crucial role in the construction of a more just and balanced world.»