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José Manuel Barroso

Patron of the Global Economic Symposium 2011


The overarching theme of the GES 2011, “New Forces of Global Governance,” is very timely. Recent events highlight how some of these “new forces” are reshaping the world and its governance. The wide-ranging and sometimes profound effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster around the world underscore how b oth people and political systems are affected by events thousands of miles away, increasing awareness of our interdependence at all levels.

While growing interdependence is often mutually beneficial, it can also spread instability and insecurity—notably in financial markets, but also over food and energy supplies—and, therefore, require common responses to such issues. At the same time, the world is going through a rapid and profound transformation: the global economy is increasingly driven by growth in “emerging” economies, while the geopolitical context is being revolutionized by the Arab Spring and the emergence of a multipolar world. These are important issues for the world and for Europe. I am, therefore, delighted that these will be duly explored at the GES 2011.

Like the rest of the world, the EU is greatly affected by these new forces. At the same time, it is one of the few entities large enough and powerful enough to shape them. The debt crisis has highlighted how deeply interlinked Eurozone economies have become—and only by acting together can we tackle the crisis successfully. Europe also has to adapt to the changing world, notably by implementing its EU2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. And the EU has reacted rapidly to the Arab Spring. We were the first to produce a complete bilateral strategy to support this very positive movement for greater freedom and prosperity. The EU has also been instrumental in building a new partnership between the G-8 and countries in the Southern Mediterranean, and is dedicated to ensure its full implementation.

Europe is also playing a key role in helping to find solutions to these challenges at a global level. On economic issues, the EU acts within the G-20, whose role the EU helped to bolster at the start of the crisis. The G-20 is, and should remain, instrumental in mustering political momentum, coordinating economic action and setting priorities at a global level. Let me briefly share some of my thoughts on topical issues ahead of the Cannes G-20 summit in November. Addressing macroeconomic imbalances and managing the bumpy ride towards global recovery will require continued attention and bold decisions. The momentum for an effective and smooth implementation of the G-20 agenda, in particular with regard to financial regulatory reform, will have to be maintained. The adoption of a financial transactions tax needs to be explored. Also, progress is needed on the path to reforming the global monetary system and on improving currency stability. We need to tackle the volatility of commodity prices and the uneven transparency of their markets, and address the issue of food security. Finally, on global governance issues, we need realistic and effective solutions to improve the way international institutions work together.

Europe is often seen as a laboratory for globalization. Its huge achievements—such as the single market, the single currency, the entrenchment of prosperity, freedom and stability in new member states, common action against climate change—show that everything is possible with unity, responsibility and trust. It also underscores how sustaining closer cooperation, both within Europe and globally, requires continuous energy and effort to overcome divisions and work towards long-term goals.

By problem-solving on global challenges and articulating creative solutions beyond mere diagnostics, the GES contributes to this effort. I look forward to the concrete solutions that your discussions will bring forward, as a fertile source of ideas for the formulation of policies to promote global cooperation.

Let me wish you again, as patron of this symposium, a very stimulating event.

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