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Europe 1957 - 2007 - 2057

Anförande vid Chatham House i London, Storbritannien

Half a century ago, our two countries - the United Kingdom and Sweden - didn't really find the ongoing preparations for the signing of the treaty on the establishment of the European Economic Community on the Capitol in Rome particularly exciting.

We certainly had an interest in the ongoing efforts to further liberalise trade, primarily within the framework of the OEEC, but the politics of the Messina conference and the dialogue between the Six was truly foreign to our two nations.

The jewel in the crown, to be sure, had won its independence, but the winds of change had not really swept away the grandeur of a world painted in pink. The so-called Continent was seen by many as a messy place to which it was better to keep a healthy distance.

And we Swedes believed that it was the self-perceived goodness and wisdom of our policy of neutrality that had kept us from being dragged into the European civil wars of the century. With prejudices going back to the Thirty Years War, we looked down on the Six as much too Catholic and probably too conservative for our progressive taste.

But still the Six went ahead, climbed the steps of the Capitol, signed the Treaty of Rome - with its commitment to an "ever closer union between the peoples of Europe" - and started a peaceful revolution in not only European but global affairs as well.

The rest - as the Americans say - is history. And it's a history that our two countries, not without certain hesitations, and with sounds of foot-dragging still occasionally being heard, have since found it to be in our interest to join. Harold Macmillan took that solid step of true statesmanship in 1961, although it was to take until 1973 before you were finally able to join.

And for my country it took much longer. I had the honour of signing our Treaty of Accession on the island of Corfu in Greece on Midsummer's Day 1994, paving the way for our accession in 1995.

By then we were already in the midst of that truly remarkable European transformation that we are still to a very large extent in the middle of.

One of the more memorable phrases of modern European history is the one uttered by the then Foreign Secretary Lord Grey as he looked out over Horse Guards Parade in August 1914, noting that the lights were going out all over Europe and wondering whether they would come back on in his lifetime.

They did not.

After that war came revolutions, depressions and totalitarian temptations of both the red and the black and brown variety. And soon a new war started, with consequences even more horrible and even more devastating.

It was after the end of that war that Winston Churchill in 1946 took the lectern at the University of Zurich and made his famous call for some kind of United States of Europe, in order to overcome the divisions that had led to all the wars.

It was a vision as daring a sit was inspiring - although he saw his Empire outside of it. And it was that vision that carried the Six forward to the Treaty of Rome.

But although some sort of peace had by then returned to the western part of Europe, the lights were still out in other parts of our continent.

It was not until the wall came down in Berlin and a city, a country and a continent could start to come together again that the lights all over Europe could come back on.

Since then we have seen something of a new European revolution.

With the conclusion of the fifth enlargement, 10 nations with 100 million citizens, from the Gulf of Finland in the North down towards the Bosphorus in the South, have been brought into our Union, creating a new belt of peace and bubbling prosperity in an area that history has otherwise reserved for instability and rivalry.

Today, we can proudly claim that Europe has never been as free, never been as secure and never been as prosperous as it is today. And never really means never- never in its entire history.

Numerous factors have contributed to this. The security guarantee that the Atlantic Alliance has provided has undoubtedly been of major importance.

But I would still argue that the transformation we have witnessed during the past decade would not have been possible without the magnetism of the European Union and the model for modern societies that its many different rules and regulations provided.

This is a fact disputed by few today.

In Sweden, I find that even those who still claim that they oppose our country's membership of the Union have welcomed the success that the entry of all the others into it has been for us all. And I suspect that individuals of the same species can also be found here in the British Isles.

I think we can safely say, that of all that European integration has accomplished in the close to 50 years that have passed since the signing of the Treaty of Rome, this will perhaps stand out as its single most important achievement.

There is thus ample cause for celebration as we look back on the half a century of the Treaty of Rome. And this also includes the nations that were not there from the beginning. It has been a force for both peace and prosperity probably well beyond even the most daring dreams of its original signatories.

The European Union of today is not only the major force for peace and prosperity in our part of the world. Coming earlier today from a meeting in Nuremberg between the foreign ministers of the Union and those of the countries of south-east Asia in the ASEAN group, I can testify directly to the growing presence and influence the European Union is having on the wider global stage.

To some extent this is a function of its economic weight.

Its economy is now the largest integrated economy in the world. It is by far the largest trading power on the planet - larger than the second and the third put together. It is the biggest market for more than 130 nations around the world. It provides the largest amount of ODA to the developing countries. And a fact worth noting for both Swedes and the British is that the value of the euros in circulation in the world today exceeds the value of the dollars.

We certainly have our problems - but we should not overlook the weight and importance that we have in the global economy. Others don't.

But increasingly it is also a matter of political influence.

Not because of the number of combat brigades or carrier battle groups, but because of the model that it provides of democratic nations integrating peacefully, trying to promote reconciliation and conflict resolution, strengthening different multilateral institutions.

As we celebrate the half-century that has passed, and note its remarkable achievements, we must of course focus primarily on the tasks ahead. To look - but we do try to chart the course of the policies we want to follow, and we must try to anticipate the challenges we will have to handle.

Put in the simplest possible terms, the European Union is about the promotion of peace and prosperity -in our own countries, on our own tip of the vast Eurasian landmass and in the wider world.

And to continue in the simplest possible terms, the promotion of peace requires us to continue to unite, while the promotion of prosperity requires us to be able to compete.

I would argue that in the years ahead we must intensify our efforts in both these respects.

Regarding our efforts to promote peace, what worries me today is the combination of the weakening soft power of Europe and the increasing tensions that we see more or less all around us.

Wherever we look - from Kabul to Khartoum - we see tensions building up. Not only the obvious risks of political conflict, terrorism or nuclear proliferation. But also the perhaps even more dangerous risk of our sliding into a true Huntingtonian 'clash of civilisations'.

I would argue that what is needed is a profound strengthening of the soft power of Europe. We need the hard power as well, but at the end of the day peace is built by thoughts and by ballots more than by tanks and by bullets.

A critical part of the soft power of Europe lies in the continued process of enlargement - a Europe that remains open to those in our part of the world wishing to share their sovereignty with us, accept the rule of law and commit to the building of open, secular and free societies together.

But we all know that there are those who want to slow down or perhaps even stop the process altogether. Just across the Channel, there is talk of defining the borders of Europe.

But let us be clear: drawing big lines on big maps of the East of Europe risks being a dangerous process. We should know that such a process will have profound effects in those areas or nations that fear ending up on the other side of those lines.

We could easily see forces of atavistic nationalism or submission to other masters taking over when the light of European integration - however faint or distant - is put out.

If that happens, the lines on the maps will certainly not protect us from the consequences of what happens beyond them.

Our strategic focus in terms of enlargement is now shifting towards the approximately 100 million people of the Western Balkans and Turkey.

And how these processes are handled in the years to come will have profound implications for the future of Europe.

In my opinion, we have a moral obligation to seek the European integration of the countries of the Western Balkans, and although conditionality remains the key to progress, we must do our utmost to help them meet those conditions.

And it should be crystal clear that we have a profound strategic interest in the eventual membership of Turkey in the European Union.

It would be the culmination of a long process of European modernisation for the country, and it would have a decisively positive impact on the prospects for stability in the entire region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

It would also add important elements of economic dynamism, demographic vigour and cultural diversity that can only enrich our common European efforts. But our tasks extend beyond this.

To the east of the present boundary of the European Union live another 200 million Europeans - Ukrainians and Russians, but also Belarusians, Moldovans and the hundred or so different peoples of the Caucasus.

Today, there is something of a soft war going on for the future of the East of Europe. The mighty fortress by the Moscow River has its own concept of strictly controlled so-called democracy, while others see their future in more open economies and open societies following the model that has proved a success in the rest of Europe.

It will take time for the different nations of this vast area to clearly define how they want to see their future, and the task is naturally primarily one for them.

However, it is important that our doors remain open to all true democracies in Europe, that we are ready to generously extend our structures of integration to whoever is interested and ready, and that we continue to adhere to our values of freedom and democracy for everyone.

The task of building a new order of peace and prosperity in Europe after the lights started to come on again in all of Europe is by no means over- perhaps we have come half of the way by now.

But as we continue with these important undertakings, it is obvious that it will increasingly be the wider global tasks that will dominate. We must be better at promoting peace in wider areas, and we must be better at competing as globalisation continues to accelerate.

We are now at the beginning of the third phase of globalisation.

The first phase of globalisation was the one coloured by Europe that came to such an abrupt end in August 1914. The second was the more geographically limited phase - affecting mainly Western Europe, North America and Japan -that came to be dominated primarily by the strong expansion of the American economy. Of course to a considerable extent, it is still this phase that colours our world.

But it is above all the return of Asia that defines this, the third wave of genuine globalisation. Its roots lie in the beginning of the reforms in China in 1978, in the collapse of the Soviet system around 1989 and in the beginning of India's emergence in 1991 from the paleosocialism that had curtailed its potential until then.

Despite what we see as the so obvious importance of the liberation of Europe, it is the return of Asia that will come to dominate the picture.

I say 'return' because we so easily forget that during the millennium preceding the first European wave of globalisation, it was the economies of Asia that accounted for approximately three fifths of the total global economy.

The European expansion and - later - the rise of America fundamentally changed this. Half a century ago, the Asian economies were down to about a fifth of the global economy.

But after their strong expansion in recent decades, they have already reached a level of around two fifths. In all probability, we will see the day when Asia is once again home to three fifths of the global economy.

I do not think that we are always fully aware of the power of the economic transformation that the world - and we ourselves- are currently experiencing.

In actual fact, never before has the global economy grown and changed so vigorously and rapidly as is the case at present.

The figures speak for themselves.

Global economic growth is at record levels, and now encompasses a far larger part of the world than ever before.

Even more important is that in the past decade we have seen how the annual increase in trade has been at least double that of production, which means that the integration of the global economy is advancing very rapidly.

But integration is driven even more by capital and investment flows than by trade. And if, in somewhat simplified terms, it can be said that trade is increasing at least twice as rapidly as growth, investment flows are increasing at least twice as rapidly as trade.

This is not just about globalisation -it is about accelerating globalisation.

The latest giant container vessel - the Danish Emma Maersk - loads up to 14 000 containers. Some 2 per cent of the world's entire production is being handled, at any one time, by package delivery company UPS. With around 60 million visitors a year, Ikea's Mega shopping mall, outside Moscow, is the most visited shopping mall in the world.

I remember how, at the very beginning of the 1990s, I got one of the very first GSM telephones that were then starting to be manufactured. Today, almost one third of the world's population has a GSM subscription, and this number is growing by 1 000 every minute.

It goes without saying that all this shows what is basically an exceptionally positive development. The World Bank's latest report on the global economy - Global Economic Prospects 2007: Managing the Next Wave of Globalization - describes how, from Shanghai to Sao Paulo, a new global middle class is emerging.

Within a quarter of a century, this new middle class in the developing countries will more than treble. Then, more than 90 per cent of the world's middle class will be living in countries that, not so long ago, we called developing countries.

This will create better fundamental conditions, both for open societies and for open economies. And since we believe that Immanuel Kant was basically correct in his little essay on 'eternal peace', this should also create better conditions for peace and stability.

But at the same time as this is happening, we see the forces that are trying to bring it all to a halt strengthening their efforts. And while doing our utmost to facilitate this globalisation with all the benefits it will bring, we must be mindful of the tensions that are there and the dangers that must always be confronted.

In a sense, this is all familiar ground.

When Karl Popper wrote about the open society and its enemies, he spoke about the "strain of civilisation" and the retreat by some into the perceived security of old and closed tribal attitudes.

Now, an open world is at stake, and again we are feeling the strains of civilisation, and again we are hearing the siren songs of tribalism.

The forces that want to see more closed societies, a closed Europe and a world in which walls of distrust are raised again must absolutely not be underestimated.

We see them constantly in the distrust towards that which is different, the fear of that which is unfamiliar and the calls that try to entice us to seek security in the closed communities that are ultimately defined by distrust towards those who are not willing, not able or not allowed to join in.

And here it is easy to see that old divisions between domestic and foreign policies don't really apply any longer.

A straight line runs through our policy, from our work for openness in the school playground in our suburbs, through our belief in an open Europe, to our conviction that the forces of free trade and globalisation create the conditions for a better world.

It is a vision of open societies, of an openEurope and an open world that must guide us in the years ahead. In the past - before the great European transformation - it was the issue of the Soviet Union that had a tendency to dominate our days. Without in any way playing down the concerns that we must have over the present direction of Russian politics - though this is a threat primarily to Russia itself - I believe it is obvious that a key issue in the decades ahead will be our relations with the wider Muslim world.

The wider Muslim world is obviously our neighbour if we look at the big maps of the big world, but increasingly it is also our neighbour in the small world of our local grocery store or across the street. Again, we see the lines between domestic and foreign affairs becoming increasingly blurred.

We have an obvious interest in Europe playing a role in overcoming the different divisions that are now plaguing the wider Muslim world, and that sometimes also tend to be seen as part of a confrontation between the ideas of the West and the ideas of that world.

To oversimplify again, it could be said that if in the past our efforts were focused on the conflicts and issues that converged in and around the divided city of Berlin, today and tomorrow our efforts ought to be focused on the conflicts and issues that converge in and around the city of Jerusalem.

In a sense these can be seen as part of the broader set of issues confronting us in the wider post-Ottoman space - from Bihac in Bosnia in the north-west to Basra down by the Gulf in the south-east. Here, old issues have a tendency to create new problems, be they those of the future viability of a more independent Kosovo, the unresolved issue of Cyprus or the acute tensions that we have seen exploding in the old lands of Mesopotamia in recent years.

None of these issues have a purely military solution - if anyone ever believed that. All these issues require major efforts at reconciliation and political conflict resolution. And none of them are more important and urgent than the issues centred on Jerusalem.

Another wall to climb in order to reach a better future.

If we are trying to look half a century into the future, failure to solve these issues simply cannot be an option. The consequences would simply be far too horrendous- perhaps primarily for the state of Israel, but then for the entire region and certainly for us Europeans and our increasingly close relationship with the wider Muslim world.

This being the case, we should certainly put efforts to address these issues at the very top of our agenda for the very beginning of the next half-century of the EuropeanUnion.

Whichever of the great global challenges we are discussing -climate change, international terrorism, migration pressures, new infectious diseases - it is increasingly obvious that there simply are no national solutions available.

And it is one of the hopeful signs of the present European picture that this is increasingly understood by the general public as well. In opinion polls about Europe, the urge for a stronger European voice on global affairs consistently comes out, and does so emphatically in virtually every country.

National policies are increasingly for national consumption - it is the common European policies that are there to handle the global challenges that increasingly are affecting our citizens.

Thus, it is obvious that we must continue to unite in order to become an even stronger force for peace in a part of the world that will need it even more, as well asin confronting all the other challenges ahead.

But it should be equally obvious that we as Europeans must increase our ability to compete if we are to be able not only to preserve our present prosperity, but also to increase it further and spread it to even more citizens within and outside our Union.

But although I have my own strong views on this, these are not issues primarily for a Minister for Foreign Affairs, and accordingly I prefer to leave them for another time.

Peace is my profession. And the EuropeanUnion has been, is and in the future will be an even more important instrument for achieving that peace in ever larger parts of our world.

That should be a central part of our vision for the coming half-century.

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