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Anförande vid Australia National University

Anförande i Canberra, Australien

To state the obvious - I am very happy to be here.

And to have the opportunity to make a couple of remarks on Europe facing the global challenges. Relations between Europe and Australia are obviously strong.

And that includes Sweden.

Our rather flamboyant king Gustav III back in the late 19th century decided to set up a Swedish colony on this then newly discovered continent.

But a couple of years later he, true to form, decided to go to war with Russia instead, and nothing come of the Swedish colony here.

Russia, however, is still there.

That was the age of the wars of Europe, but also of the powers of Europe starting to extend and expand over the world.

And soon we entered that glorious first age of globalisation that was profoundly dominated by Europe - its ideas, its products, its concepts and its interests.

It was the age of the industrial revolution and of the race for territory, but also the age of remarkable advances in science and technology.

Regrettably, it was also the age of the scramble by the European states for supremacy over Europe, and this paved the way for its undoing, but later also for its recovery.

Next year it will be a hundred years since a fateful shot in Sarajevo unleashed those guns of August made famous by Barbara Tuchmann and the then British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey. Looking out from his magnificent office he saw the lights going out over all of Europe, and wondered when they would come on again.

What followed was decades of destruction, dictatorship, division and darkness. It was a darkness that shadowed not only Europe but the entire world, and that forced so many young humans also from this country, to sacrifice their lives in muddy entrenchments somewhere far away from home.

And it wasn't really until late 1989, when that fateful wall in Berlin that had divided a city, a country and a continent came down, that Europe could start coming back from those decades of horror and we could start building a Europe that is whole and free, democratic and dynamic.

In the meantime, of course, the baton of global pre-eminence had passed over the Atlantic from Europe to its offshoot the United States.

US industrial and military strength had also been key in defeating the forces of darkness that had destroyed so much of Europe.

What started as a Coal and Steel Community essentially between France and Germany, trying to unite the core parts of their economies in order to prevent further wars, had by then evolved first into the European Economic Community, then into the European Community bringing together most of the western parts of the continent.

A restart was necessary, and a phase of profound deepening and widening of the process of European integration was imperative.

The European Community changed into the far more ambitious European Union. A Union that opened up its doors to extend from the then 12 Member States to, eventually, the 27 members of today, due to be 28 with the accession of Croatia this summer.

If you look back at the somewhat more than two decades that have passed, the record of achievement is an impressive one.

Yes, there have certainly been substantial setbacks.

We could not prevent a decade of conflict erupting in the Balkans, much as had been the case during the beginning of that century, with all the human suffering that followed.

And we have been struggling - and still are - with getting the mechanisms of deeper economic, financial and monetary integration right, notably within the euro area of today 17 states.

But what we have done is to anchor open societies, open economies, the rule of law, and freedom for a hundred million people of Central and Eastern Europe that had been denied them for more than a generation and sometimes much longer.

I came here on Monday directly from the Polish capital Warsaw.

Not that long ago it was a grey city in an oppressed country with a decaying economy.

Now, it is a bustling and colourful metropolis in the rapidly growing economy of a country with its new free voice in the councils of Europe and the world.

And in the process of securing freedom and peace in all these countries we created the largest integrated economy in the world.

With its common external policies and its common internal rules, the EU single market has emerged as the trade and investment superpower of the global economy.

The struggles in some of the euro zone countries since the global financial crisis make it easy to overlook that the EU today is the world's largest exporter, importer, foreign direct investor and recipient of foreign direct investment.

It is even less well known that the EU has held on to its 20 per cent share of world exports, despite the rise of new competitors.

And contrary to popular belief, the EU's industrial base remains strong.

The EU has a massive trade surplus in manufacturing of almost EUR 300 billion, and a trade surplus in services as well.

Despite the crisis the EU is still among the most attractive places to invest around the globe.

Europe is home to six out of ten of the globe's most competitive economies and to seven out of the ten countries that are seen as best prepared for our networked future.

I can't avoid noting that Sweden is one of them in both respects.

And Europe continues to set standards in innovation: US firms alone spend ten times more on research and development in Europe than they spend in China and India together.

You often see figures noting that the EU share of the global economy is set to decline during the decades ahead. And that is certainly true.

What is also true is that this is good, and that we should also see it as our success.

Good, because a world where the gap between poorer and richer that had been widening for perhaps two centuries is starting to close. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are entering the new middle class we see rising from Shanghai to São Paulo. This is bound to be a better world for all.

Success,- because it is the policies of an open global trading system, open economies and the gradual opening up of societies - the values we have been pioneering and promoting - that are producing this remarkable development.

And we see this in particular in Asia.

The story of the rise of the Asian economies, following the start of more open policies in China in the late 1970's and the liberalisation of India in the early 1990's, is well known to all of you here.

Indeed, your country is gearing many of its policies towards being ready for what you refer to as the "Asian century".

The recent White Paper on the subject by your government stated, that "as the global centre of gravity shifts to our region, the tyranny of distance is being replaced by the prospects of proximity."

And that "Australia is located in the right place at the right time - the Asian region in the Asian century."

It is indeed true that, much as the first phase of globalisation so clearly dominated by Europe gradually gave way to a second phase more shaped by the industrial might and innovation potential of America, we are now seeing the advent of yet another phase of globalisation marked by the manufacturing power of Asia.

And in its wake comes the emergence of more urbanised societies with a new middle class demanding not only consumer products, but also services, accountable governments and more open societies.

Europe is not more distant from the hubs of this new Asian age than Australia. As a matter of fact, Stockholm is closer to both Beijing and Shanghai than Canberra.

And we are certainly feeling the impact.

Much as you feel the need to continually adapt and upgrade your economy to be able to fully use the new opportunities, we are doing the same in Europe.

It is a process of continuous change.

Two decades ago my country was faced with serious structural challenges coming out of misdirected policies over the preceding decades.

We tackled those at the same time as we entered the European Union.

And today we can even be on the cover of the Economist as something of a new model of economic growth, innovation and social development.

A decade ago it was Germany that was seen as the sick man of Europe.

But since then profound reforms have made Germany into one of the top export performers of the global economy.

Today the burden of change is most clearly on some of the economies of Southern Europe.

And we see substantial reforms being decided. Deficits are being reduced. The burden of debt is gradually being tackled.

The media transmits to us the pain sometimes associated with these measures. The pain is immediate. The profit always comes later.

But the examples I mentioned of other countries clearly show that it will come.

As we, from our vantage point, look out over the rapidly changing world, we certainly see the return of Asia to the position in the global economy it used to have some centuries ago.

But we also see the rise of others.

Behind the rise of Asia will most probably come the even faster rise of Africa in the decades ahead.

Many of the conditions for take-off that were there in India, say, two or three decades ago are now there across the continent of Africa.

Overlooked by many, the continent has been growing by 5 to 6 per cent during the last decade.

And a recent book strongly makes the case that what we will see in Africa, towards the middle of this century, will be the fastest rising billion of the global economy.

Demographics will help.

We will see Africa surge while Asia matures and China greys.

The rise of the fastest billion of Africa might be seen as the last phase of that enormous transformation of the global economy that began two centuries ago.

And I could certainly also mention the rapid development of the countries of Latin America. You cannot discuss the future of the global economy without mentioning Brazil or Mexico.

While the first phase of globalisation was certainly European and the second one distinctly American, the phase that we have now entered is a phase that will be not only Asian but truly global.

We will not see the demise of the innovation machine of America. We will see a continued very strong Europe.

And indeed, our combined intention to create within the next few years a new trans-Atlantic free trade area, also setting the standards and rules for our economies, encompassing 40 per cent of the global economy, promises to be a transformational process for the global economy as a whole.

But we will see all the others as well.

The enormous rise of Asia. The fastest billion coming out of Africa. A world where there is far more of opportunity for each and every one.

This is the future that we are trying to facilitate in all the ways possible.

But while doing that, we should not neglect the dangers that we must also handle. And those are painfully obvious from a European perspective.

When UK Prime Minister David Cameron delivered his widely discussed speech about Europe a month ago, he praised the achievement of European integration in securing peace on our continent, but hinted that this task was now behind us, and that it was on the issues of prosperity that we should focus.

I am with him on the latter, but not on the former.

You cannot have peace at home if you have turmoil just outside your door. Indeed, when we speak about building peace, we seek to do that by helping to create as large a sphere of well-governed and reasonably prosperous states around us as possible.

Seeking peace is not primarily about how we ourselves are. It is to a large extent how our neighbours are. And here we Europeans face huge tasks in the decades ahead.

Our enlargement policy is about seeking peace by promoting integration, the rule of law and prosperous economies.

After the 100 million people of Central and Eastern Europe, we now have the 100 million people of South- Eastern Europe knocking on our door, with the vibrant economy and society of Turkey the most important of these countries.

And we are devoting great resources towards helping the six countries of our Eastern Partnership - notably Ukraine - to develop.

To our south we face a Levant in turmoil and tragedy as the civil war in Syria kills hundreds more every day, a Middle East peace process that is neither process nor peace, an Egypt struggling with its future and a Sahel region immediately south of the Sahara where the recent events in Mali vividly illustrated the fragility.

It is also because of this that we are seeking to build a stronger common foreign and security policy, and to continually develop new instruments and policies to help to bring peace and stability to these and other areas.

These are not tasks that can be accomplished in a week or two. We are talking about stability-promoting and state-assisting efforts that often must stretch over decades in order to have any chance of success.

And we certainly see the magnitude of the challenge we will face in keeping the forces of fragmentation and the tendencies to turmoil at bay in the years ahead.

In this challenge, we are reaching out to the rest of the world as well.

A strong United Nations is indispensable. The split of its Security Council on the issue of Syria has certainly demonstrated how important the UN is - on key issues, we cannot move forward without it.

And we are reaching out to partners and friends here in Asia.

We had a successful summit between Europe and Asia in Vientiane in Laos in November. We are developing increasingly close ties with ASEAN. Our relationships with China, Japan and Korea are far more than just commercial.

And relations with Australia are certainly as strong as they can be.

For us, it is certainly an Asian century that we have entered. But I would also argue that it is more.

It is a truly global century.

And our tasks in Europe today - reforming our economies, strengthening our integration, developing our institutions - are all part of our efforts to make Europe truly ready for this global age.

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