Tribune de l’Ambassadeur dans le Straits Times
Le Straits Times a publié le jeudi 18 décembre 2008 une tribune de M. Pierre Buhler, Ambassadeur de France à Singapour, intitulée "European Union, A force for good in a troubled world" qui dresse un bilan de l’action de l’Union Européenne au service de la gouvernance mondiale.
Ci-dessous le texte de la tribune :
A force for good in a troubled world
By Pierre Buhler
GLOBAL governance relies heavily on regional governance and the European Union (EU) is the most successful model in that respect, contributing significantly to the world’s stability and direction. This judgment was recently uttered, unsolicited, by former United States deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott during a discussion with Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo, organised by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP).
This homage from one of America’s sharpest minds points to what is the most significant facet of Europe : its ability to exercise regional governance on the many issues that confront nations. This ability derives from the method that Europe has adopted : permanent negotiation among the member-states of the EU and between them and the supranational body that is the European Commission. States pursue their national interests and policy preferences, but subject these to a well-oiled machinery of procedures, where the only possible outcome is consensus, in pursuit of a common good that no one wants to undermine.
Doing all this with 27 member-states is a daunting task. Yet it does work. This ’engine of compromise’ churns out an impressive number of standards, directives and decisions, which are eventually implemented under the watchful eye of the European Court of Justice. This is how the single market, a free movement area, a single currency and European citizenship came about.
But this common good is not for the sole benefit of Europeans. The EU projects itself unto its immediate vicinity - the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean - where nations, hopeful of joining it or of partnering it, adjust their policies accordingly. European norms on the safety of consumer goods - food, drugs and chemicals - or the protection of our environment and health, are eventually adopted by most companies globally, as they seek access to the world’s most open and largest market. The same holds true for the EU’s core values - freedom, democracy, secularism, the rule of law and human rights.
While these norms - designed to protect our most precious resource, our people - might be read as a defence of the vested interests of developed countries, there is no reason to deny their benefit to the peoples of developing countries, whose ultimate - and legitimate - goal is to join the developed world. To help them in their quest, the EU is by far the largest provider of development aid, accounting for 55 per cent of public aid spent throughout the world. These policies are all intended to generate a public good of global reach.
The extremely open nature of Europe’s political debates and the high expectations associated with its ideals inevitably feed a flurry of sententious columns and sarcastic headlines, sometimes infused with Schadenfreude, in Europe and abroad. Today’s feuds within the EU, its setbacks, the persistence of national selfishness, the failure to solve every problem, provide ample material for caricature. Such caricatures overlook reality. It is unfair to label Europe, as LKYSPP dean Kishore Mahbubani recently did, as a ’Christian club’ or a ’political dwarf’.
In a display of leadership - and in a historic breakthrough - last week’s European Council summit endorsed an ambitious package aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 20 per cent as soon as 2020, and increasing renewable energy to 20 per cent of the energy produced. The council also reinstated a ratification process for the Lisbon Treaty, which had been derailed by the Irish referendum in June. These are but some of the EU’s latest achievements, which include the founding of the Union for the Mediterranean and the adoption of a pact on asylum and immigration.
Not only does the EU lay sound foundations for addressing the challenges to come, but its complex processes also do not curtail its ability to tackle the crises that are currently plaguing the world. When the financial crisis hit two months ago, Europe wasted no time in mounting a concerted emergency plan. When Hungary was in distress, its European partners, alongside the International Monetary Fund, came to the rescue with a multi-billion euro package. As world currencies came under attack, the euro proved to be an anchor of stability. And it was Europe that took the initiative in calling for the G-20 meeting in Washington on Nov 15, to launch repairs of the global financial system.
The war in the Caucasus is another case in point. As critics gloated over the union’s supposed impotence, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, holding the rotating presidency of the EU, negotiated an agreement between Moscow and Tbilisi, which brought about a rapid ceasefire. A 300-strong monitoring mission sent promptly by the EU proved Europe’s efficiency not only in closed-door diplomacy but also in following through with concrete action. And on the burning issue of piracy off the Somalian shores, the EU has, in a matter of weeks, set up a naval force to deter and counter future attacks.
In fair weather and in foul, the EU is a force for good in a troubled world - not only in words but also in deeds.
The writer is France’s Ambassador to Singapore.
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