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EU:s utrikes- och säkerhetspolitiska utmaningar

Anförande vid Utrikespolitiska institutet, Stockholm, Sverige

Welcome to Stockholm and the beginning of a new European debate about the strategic challenges of the future.

Now that the Reform Treaty is complete, and we are expecting it to enter into force at the beginning of 2009, we have ended a long phase of institutional debate; and it is now high time to focus even more clearly on the policy issues that lie ahead.

You could say that with the hardware of institutions now set in stone for years to come - since that is the reality - it is high time to concentrate on the software of strategic policies.

Hardware without software is just dead metal, and institutions without policies are little more than a nuisance. It's the software that makes the difference.

It took from the Maastricht Treaty in 1991 - with its provisions for a Common Foreign and Security Policy - to the Council in late 2003 for our Union to adopt its first truly strategic concept.

The European Security Strategy that was adopted then broke new ground, and there is little doubt that it has stood the test of time and served us well.

But it was never meant to be just a stone tablet to be preserved for eternity, but rather a living document that would evolve and develop as the European Union developed and as its strategic environment and the challenges associated with it evolved.

Much has happened since 2003.

2004 saw the great enlargement that surely one day will be seen as one of the truly finest hours of the entire process of European integration.

2005 saw the landmark decision to open accession negotiations with Turkey, thus confirming our vision of an open and strategically ambitious European Union. 2006 saw all the issues connected with energy security - already to some extent on the radar screen in 2003 - coming into much sharper focus.

And 2007 has seen our Union assume a global leadership role when it comes to tackling the enormous challenge of climate change.

These developments go some way towards explaining why it is now necessary to start the process of revisiting and updating the European Security Strategy and to move towards - still using the terminology of the ICT world - the ESS 2.0.

It is obvious that the most important starting point for any discussion on the challenges ahead must be the challenge of the Union itself.

The kind of Union we are in 2009, 2014, 2019 and 2024 - years of elections and transitions - will have a decisive influence on our ability to shape our strategic environment and to handle the different challenges.

Will we be able to change and reform our economies and continue to be winners in this age of accelerating globalisation - or will a failure force us to sink back into a defensive and protectionist mood?

Will we be able to continue the highly successful process of enlargement - thus eventually taking our Union to around 600 million citizens and consolidating its position as the largest economy in the world - or will we try to build new barriers and define new borders in our own part of the world?

Questions such as these are beyond the scope of our discussions today, but we should not neglect the fact that the answers to these questions carry great significance for our global position.

In some more brutal debates in other parts of the world we are already seen as being far more a part of history than a part of the future. It is up to us to prove them wrong.

The European Security Strategy famously states that "Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free", and I do believe that this still holds true.

The question is whether we can be confident that the situation will remain the same some decades down the road - and to what extent we can influence that situation.

The latest major US attempt to look ahead - the National Intelligence Council's 2020 project Mapping the Global Future -concludes that "the international order will be in greater flux in the period up to 2020 than at any point since the end of the Second World War", and speaks of a "pervasive sense of insecurity" potentially dominating the public discourse in our respective societies.

We must assume that globalisation will continue to accelerate and that the return of Asia to its historical position in the global order will be one of the truly dominating characteristics of the decades to come. But we can not totally rule out the possibility that the process will suffer serious setbacksif we fail to address some of the other major challenges.

Today, approximately a third of mankind lives in regions that are growing at approximately 10 percent a year. We are seeing the fastest reduction in poverty in human history. The economy of China doubles every seven years or so. India might eventually have the potential for an even more rapid development.

There is no longer the old division of the world into developed and underdeveloped. In this age of both globalisation and revolution in science and technology we must all be developing countries - although with different starting points and with somewhat different attitudes to the necessary process ofchange.

Where individual nations will be in a quarter of or half a century is today a more open question than it has been for a very long time - probably since the very early days of the industrial revolution in Europe.

The new dividing line might well be between all the billions in the more or less rapidly developing nations, and that bottom billion caught in a conundrum of failed and flawed policies - the billions living in the Zimbabwes, the Burmas, the North Koreas and the Somalias of this world.

Our strategic commitment must be one to an open Europe in an open and global economy - thus also creating the best possible conditions for the continued process of globalisation.

Historically, we Europeans are the true globalisers. To deny that critically important part of the amazing success of Europe over the past few centuries would be to severely limit our own future and our own ability to shape the world of the future.

But the challenges of globalisation that lie ahead are of course very great. And some of them have gained in magnitude since 2003.

The International Energy Authority has noted that "the energy future we are creating is unsustainable. If we continue as before, the energy supply to meet the needs of the world economy over the next twenty-five years will be too vulnerable to failure arising from under-investment, environmental catastrophe or sudden supply interruption".

We might debate what is worse: that there be an energy supply abundant enough to risk the A2 or A1 scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) turning into reality; or that we descend without design into a world of increasingly acute shortages of essential energy resources.

There are vast - although somewhat different - strategic challenges arising out of both these possibilities. What is obvious is that we can ill afford to continue to neglect these issues - we are the greatest importer of energy in the world, and we have also taken on the global leadership role on the issues of climate change.

Although we are this great importer of energy, we are living adjacent to some of the most significant energy producing regions of the world. Be it the areas around the Gulf, the empty expanses of Siberia, the volatile regions of the Caspian or the in hospitable Arctic Seas - in the modern world they are all just a stone's throw from our shores and lands.

The Muslim world is our neighbour - not only on the map, but increasingly also across the street in our respective societies.

And our relationship with this wider Muslim world and the clashes within that civilisation that we are witnessing will undoubtedly be one of the factors to shape the decades ahead.

Today, 54 per cent of the population of Pakistan is below the age of 19. Long-term this can undoubtedly be seen as a major asset - provided the economic and social challenges of the short and medium term can be handled.

And the Arab world that is our immediate neighbour faces a true demographic imperative - a possible increase in population by 150 million, equivalent to two Egypts, over the next decade or so.

To generate an increase in employment of the required magnitude requires duplication of the "miracle" economies of Korea and Taiwan - and if this can be done, the region will move into an era of "demographic dividend", of growing prosperity, confidence and optimism about the future.

But we all know the risk of this not happening, and the consequences this might have. The excellent 2006 study of the world we might be facing in 2025 by the EU Institute for Security Studies- The New Global Puzzle -speaks about "the possibility of a systematic break-down of the entire Middle East" in the decades ahead if the combination of challenges the region is facing can not be surmounted.

That Europe has an interest in the outcome is an understatement of the first order.

In the city of Södertälje just south of Stockholm there are already more refugees from Iraq than in all of the United States. There are no oceans between the Middle East and the Near East - which used to be a term applied to what is now southeastern Europe.

Indeed, if you look at the parts of the world where lagging economies, ethnic affiliations, intense religious convictions, and youth bulges could align to create a 'perfect storm' for conflicts and confrontations, you rapidly find that most of them are closer to us than to any of the other potential global powers.

Accordingly, we are the ones who should have the most profound strategic interest in developing the policies that overtime can address these issues.

Since 2003, concepts like 'nation-building', not to mention 'regime change', have gone somewhat out of fashion, and the doctrine that democracy solves everything has had a somewhat brutal encounter with reality.

But welcome as this might be, we should be careful not to let the pendulum swing too far.

Yes, state-building - which any European recognises as the appropriate term - requires far more strategic patience, resources and coalition-building than many had expected.

But this is no reason to abandon efforts - rather there is all the more reason to double our efforts based on what we have learnt.

Yes, 'regime change' and democracy turned out to be somewhat more complicated when confronted with the cultural and historical realities that define any piece of territory on our Earth.

But neither here should it be a reason to abandon efforts - rather it is a reason for refining our policies, seeing them in a somewhat broader and longer perspective and seeking to develop new instruments to achieve these worthy goals.

Indeed, if you look at the despair of the "bottom billion" of the world, you can not fail to notice that it is policy change and regime evolution that are required more than aid or even trade.

The pre-1989 world - we still remember it! - was a world dominated by the politics of ideology and by the questions of war or peace.

But now it's very different. Now it is the policy of identity that dominates, and we face a world of confrontations and conflicts rather than of war and peace.

The industrial wars of the past are - at least in our part of the globe - unlikely to resurface, but instead we are facing what Rupert Smith in his ground-breaking book has called "war amongst the people" requiring very different policies and very different instruments.

Our enemy is not so much the tank divisions of the past, but more the IED's of today and the combination of modern technologies and ancient hatreds that we have seen in al-Qaeda and are likely to see in its different incarnations in the years ahead.

Where this will lead us tomorrow remains an open question. The worst of our fears is that weapons of mass destruction - nuclear weapons at the very worst - will find their way into the hands of these networks of hatred and destruction.

And the risk of this happening increases dramatically if there are more and more states around the world in possession of these weapons - and most particularly in regions approaching the 'perfect storm'-like conditions I just described.

But whether we have the right policies to overcome this challenge remains debatable - at best.

The ESS 1.0 spoke of "effective multilateralism" as the desired path forward, and I doubt that anyone would like to challenge the continued validity of that approach.

But as the tectonic plates of international affairs keep moving, the meaning of that concept keeps changing. Constructively, we must be ready to pave the way for global institutions where we are prepared to give space to the rightly rising powers of Asia and elsewhere, thus looking at other ways than the traditional ones of making our weight felt on the international arena.

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