Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt on Europe and the financial crisis

Here is some interesting reading and debating material for our readers (hat tip Sargasso). Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has published an essay through Bertelsmann entitled The Financial Crisis: Three Ways Out for Europe (pdf). Teaser (emphasis mine):

What counts in this new world order is the multiplicity of empires and civilisations, not the dominance of one. What matters is the political stability and economic growth that they can create at a regional level, not for one or other of them to rule the whole world. In a nutshell, this is not about nostalgia for a return to the European empires of old but rather the birth of new types of political organisations, established by open and free societies, competing with each other at a global level, building bridges rather than walls, but each retaining its regional roots and customs.

The financial crisis is acting as a sort of ‘particle accelerator’, speeding us on our way to a new multipolar society. This is abundantly clear in the economic sphere, but politically and militarily too great powers in the making are beginning to sit up and make their presence felt. Russia and China particularly, but India as well, let no opportunity pass to show the world that they are a force to be reckoned with. The question is, though, whether Europe will be able, or willing, to play a part in this multipolar concert. ‘Able’ it most certainly should be, but ‘willing’ is another matter. Europe continues to suffer from cold feet. (…) Yet the way ahead for Europe is only too clear. If it wishes to play a role in tomorrow’s multipolar world and survive the ‘new age of empires’, its only option is to take a bold and decisive new step in the integration process. Seen in this light, the current financial crisis is not a disaster but rather a golden opportunity for the future. What is needed now is for our political leaders to overcome their cold feet and take the plunge.

7 thoughts on “Former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt on Europe and the financial crisis

  1. It starts with the common observation of multipolarity. Then it simply claims that the solution is a centralised policy. Which makes me wonder why this crisis started in the US and housing bubbles due to maladapted interest rates arose in some parts of Europe.

    In short, somebody gave in to wishful thinking.

  2. The idea that multiple nations will band together and exhibit a common foreign policy is completely crazy.

    (The canonical disproof was the lead up to WW2).

    What actually happens is that each nation pursues its own interest, and to what extent those interests combine led to the formation of sub-groups in the larger group. We see this now with the UK and the new Eastern Europeans nations taking a tough line to Russia and the Germans, French and Italians taking a soft line.

    In the interest in preserving harmony, all that can be done while remaining whole is the weakest common response.

    Europe in its current form is not capable of meaningful action on the world stage. It is barely capable of immediate self-defence, let alone rising to the occasion where a tough stance with short-term costs is advisable.

    One way to resolve this is to politically unify foreign policy. Let alone the question itself of whether this is desireable, I wonder even if this would solve the problem, since it would require individual nation states to fully give up foreign policy. I don’t see how this could occur while individual states retain national interests, since those interests will drive national foreign policy, subverting the supposed central foreign policy.

    Personally, I’m inclined towards an economic integration for Europe, but not a political integration. This would require politicians to keep fully out of economics, which is currently only a dream of a liberty which does not exist.

  3. Europe in its current form is not capable of meaningful action on the world stage. It is barely capable of immediate self-defence, let alone rising to the occasion where a tough stance with short-term costs is advisable.

    We call it “NATO” and it has nuclear weapons.

  4. NATO cannot even agree on a common policy in Afghanistan. Prior to that it flew sorties against a nation that didn’t seriously strike back.

    To be a tool of foreign policy a military must be able to attack. NATO isn’t.

  5. What actually happens is that each nation pursues its own interest, and to what extent those interests combine led to the formation of sub-groups in the larger group. We see this now with the UK and the new Eastern Europeans nations taking a tough line to Russia and the Germans, French and Italians taking a soft line.

  6. And this will contribute to a multipolar quality of life for all : fair prices on real estate and raw materials, energy, fresh air and water ? Education and healthcare ?

Comments are closed.