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.