The EU assumes its role in the arena of global security challenges

President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, stressed the increasingly crucial role that the European Union must assume in managing instability. In his speech addressed at the Munich Security Conference on February 7th, President Barroso pointed out some of the challenges the World is now facing and  which are starting to have serious geopolitical and social repercussions.

President Barroso highlighted the increasingly important role the European Union is playing in facing up to global security challenges, and reaching out to others in recognition of the fact that common problems require common solutions. These range from 'soft' security concerns like reducing poverty and inequality, to 'hard' security concerns.

Thanks to technology, communication and the continuing spread of democracy and greater freedom, the world in now in the midst of a global revolution that will lead to changes which cannot be yet imagined. The President of the European Union,  José Manuel Durão Barroso, highlighted that although this trend has brought many advantages, like lifting out of poverty of hundreds of millions of people, there are also some real and significant challenges that have been brought up by globalisation, such as:

  • Turmoil in closely linked financial markets.
  • Global pandemics.
  • Terrorism.
  • Energy security or insecurity.
  • Competition for food and raw materials.
  • Climate change.

Multilateralism and World Security Challenges

Within this situation, in order to meet today's global security threats, the European Security Strategy calls for a more effective multilateralism as the only way forward. Therefore, as President Barroso highlighted in Munich, using the different development and crisis management tools managed by the European Commission, the EU has embedded its comprehensive approach to security in many different operations from Kosovo and Chad to Georgia and Congo, and of course, Afghanistan.

The link between internal and external policies have also become more pronounced as the EU continues to enlarge and develop its web of co-operation with its European neighbours, as well as with other partners and regions.

Close co-operation with the United Nations and NATO, as well as other organisations such as OSCE or AU, is essential for a more effective multilateralism dimension. “But for Europe, our indispensable partner in this endeavour to build an effective multilateral system will always be the United States, President Barroso said, stressing that this is not only the case “just because of our shared values and deep, historical links. But also because we have traditionally provided the ballast for the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, the G8 and other multilateral organisations and partnerships that make up the international system”.

But that system is increasingly under siege. It is necessary to complete this scheme with a new politics of global engagement that reaches out to the rest of the world, in search of new partnerships and effective multilateral strategies. This is the only way to guaratee stability, consolidate and strengthen a stable, multilateral world, governed by internationally-agreed rules.

Together with this challenge, the President of the European Commission highlighted the need to maintain citizens' support for this global engagement, which is even more necessary in times of economic crisis, because the temptation to retreat into populism and protectionism is strong.

In a globalised economy, economic governance must also be global. November's G20 Summit in Washington was an encouraging start, and the World now faces the tough task of turning words into action.