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Berlin - October 18, 2007 Remarks by Emma Bonino Italian Minister for International Trade and European Affairs Vice-President Löning, Senator Gasòliba i Böhm, Ladies and Gentlemen, Cari Amici dell’ELDR, dear friends, It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, not least because of our Congress’s timing. At this very moment, European leaders are gathering in Lisbon to discuss and hopefully approve important changes to the EU Treaties. One has to be optimistic to see this occasion as the venue for a promised new start for European integration . It is ,in any event, a positive step : one likely to bring – at last - a breath of fresh air to the European project. We hope to see the end of institutional stalemate, and the beginning of new momentum. What we need is a serious – I repeat: a serious – re-launch of European integration. I have been asked to comment briefly on the global economic role the EU can – and indeed should – play. No one could successfully exhaust this topic in 15 or 20 minutes, and I am not going to try. What I can offer you instead – as a member of the Radical Party, as a liberal, and in my capacity as Italian Minister for International trade and European affairs – is a few political remarks on the EU’s global role, which I hope will be useful to our debate. One buzz word occupying an increasingly important place in current discussions is reciprocity, and I believe the ELDR should take this on board. Let me give you a few examples in this respect. Take energy. Energy is one of the most important issues – perhaps the key issue - for European and global governance in today’s world. Most of our international relations, particularly with our closest neighbours, will increasingly be based on our capacity to set clear rules and find agreements on a range of issues from energy supplies to energy markets. My personal feeling is that the recent Commission proposal on this topic takes the right direction in this matter, and may well constitute a good basis for establishing new principles and standards in terms of energy policy – or, should I say, geo-policy! Reciprocity may also be a good reference for one of the most critical international issues: I am speaking, of course, of the so-called national sovereign funds, which are being nurtured through the trade balance surplus and are no longer just Norwegian or from Singapore, but also and increasingly coming from emerging economies such as Russia, or China, or Gulf countries. I would like to recall that the financial resources of these sovereign funds globally amount to some 2500 billion US $ (1785 billion €, at an exchange rate of 1.4 $/€), which is roughly equal to France’s GDP for the year 2006! I am not at all sure that devising some sort of “EU golden share” to shelter some interests from these funds’ reach is the most reasonable course of action. Needless to say, we need to make sure that these foreign sovereign funds follow an economic rationale and market rules ; rather than being driven by political considerations. Another example comes from our development & trade agenda. Reciprocity is the principle behind the EU’s current negotiations with the ACP countries, which aim at finalising Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Some argue that Europe is purely defending its own interests by sacrificing the future of Africa. I would answer by stating that the alternative to EPAs is not in any case the status quo, and that the future of EU-ACP relations can no longer be decided by Europeans and Africans alone. We need to ensure that the current trade regimes comply with WTO commitments and avoid discrimination towards other third world countries. That is why I find working together towards a feasible and acceptable solution to all a far preferable alternative to the raising of anachronistic walls. EPAs can be a tool for development, and I believe that Europe should play a major role in promoting African regional integration and in fostering Africa’s trade capacity. Today, we need to devise new policies, new methods, and new approaches – not so as to alter our common values, but to pursue them more effectively. I was so saddened a few days ago to hear the news that the price of African wars between 1990 and 2005 was exactly the amount of international aid that Africa received over the same 15-year period! We cannot simply continue as if these findings had never come to light. Thinking of trade, the Doha multilateral negotiations come automatically to mind. Some commentators have pointed out that trade flows are growing steadily despite the stalemate in international trade liberalisation. This may be good news, yet not as good as a reason to give up on Doha. Not only because there is still a lot to gain – very likely no less than 50 billion US $ - from the positive conclusion of the round : also because the more global trade increases, the more we will need agreed rules of the game in the global marketplace. What we badly need, is a more assertive EU voice in world affairs : on trade matters, like on other international issues. It is the only way to mould international relations according to our interests, and to our common values. We do not want to see the rise of protectionism. The only thing we want to protect is competition, the open market and fair trade rules. We want - and should work for – a radical change from a “world of rulers” to a “world of rules”. That is why I believe that we should carefully consider what is at stake each time we use our trade defence instruments, such as anti-dumping, which the Commission seems willing to reform. We need to be clear on this : anti-dumping is not an end in itself, but can make a positive contribution to reaching our goal, which is mutual commitment and the respect of free and fair trade. Our strength as a global economic player is not exclusively based on trade. As Europeans, we should never forget our impressive potential to fix global standards and exploit our economic weight in order to establish an ever more open society at the international level. I have two examples in mind. The first refers to the recent ruling of the Court of First Instance in the Microsoft case, which has upheld a contentious Commission decision . With that decision, we have shown not only our determination to protect consumers, but have also managed to send a strong message to a whole industrial sector, worldwide. We have fixed new standards that any company will have to bear in mind if it wants to do business in the lucrative European market. The second example is green technologies. Some are afraid of the economic consequences of the new EU stance on climate change. I believe, on the contrary, that there is a tremendous opportunity to encourage European firms to start with, and later industries all over the world, to transform their production and move towards more environmentally-friendly technologies by taking the lead in this huge sector. The EU must send a clear signal in this respect : that innovators and those willing to run the risk today will be rewarded by the market as well as by the institutions tomorrow. That is what I have in mind when I say that Europeans have an extraordinary chance to set new trends for the entire world. Clearly, the EU’s potential role as an economic actor on the global scene will depend very much on how it fares in achieving the targets and goals of the Lisbon strategy. There is still a lot of work to do in this respect. But we can truly become the most competitive economy in the world and a knowledge-based society if we work together. Three things seem relevant – and urgent – to me in this respect. First, we must ensure more research. By this I mean more funds available to universities and other centres of excellence; closer partnerships between research centres and the private sector; but also more freedom to research, an issue we Italian Radicals consider to be very important, and on which we have submitted a resolution to this Congress! Let me add that more research is not simply a question of money. You need to inject the money into the right structures and the right environment. What we urgently need is to understand the conditions under which Europe can become the research “hub” of the world. Second, we need more competitiveness, an area in which the EU’s capacity as an international actor is becoming increasingly relevant. The international protection of intellectual property rights and the fight against counterfeits are just two examples of what I mean by this. We need to create a global framework in which innovation and creativity are not only promoted, but also protected. Within this framework, I believe that it is not without importance to recall that Europe has an important capital – our linguistic and cultural diversity – in which to invest. We the Radicals have also submitted a proposal in this respect, calling for a pan-European conference to assess existing policies in this respect. Third, and probably most importantly, we have little chance of achieving the Lisbon targets by making Europe a knowledge economy and society - not to mention bringing dynamism to our economic activities in Europe and beyond - unless we start addressing the gender issue more seriously. Too many countries, including Italy, are still performing poorly in terms of women’s unemployment, women in leadership positions, and the availability of the right incentives to allow women to contribute fully to the growth of our economy and society. I believe that this has a negative impact not only inside the EU, but indirectly on the role of the EU in the international arena as well. That is why I am very much committed to placing the gender issue at the core of our national Lisbon strategy. We must not forget that trade and all other external policies – of which the “Lisbon package” is an increasingly relevant part - can mutually support each other. And that is why we need to care about consistency and coherence in the EU’s external actions. Again, let me give a couple of examples of what I have in mind. We should increase our possible leverage at the global level by exploiting all the potential of our common currency. At a time when serious discussions are taking place concerning the reform of the IMF, for instance, and when new international players may gain consideration, I am sure that a more structured representation of the EU – or the Eurozone at least – would be beneficial to all of us. That is why I see the idea of a single European seat at the IMF to be extremely positive. Second, we should perform better in terms of coherence and consistency. Take trade sanctions, and sanctions in general on non-democratic regimes. Our thoughts turn straight to Burma, or Zimbabwe, or Iran. But there are also many other “critical” countries such as Cuba, or Vietnam, to name but two, on which we, as radicals and liberals, would like to see more commitment and firm action by the EU. On Cuba and Vietnam, the Italian Radicals have submitted two resolutions, as we deem it important to push for more freedom and democratisation and to support liberal forces in these two countries. On a more general level, my impression is that we do not always behave coherently towards non-democratic regimes. I have always been somewhat sceptical as far as sanctions are concerned. They are rarely effective, and only when several conditions are met. Dialogue, on the other hand, as well as other means to favour openness, can eventually prove effective. Trade, for instance, may well be a tool for promoting the flow of people - and therefore ideas. All in all, however, my only remark is that Europe needs to be more coherent when dealing with similar cases around the world. I want to be crystal clear on this: our common capacity to shape international developments is based on our credibility as a normative – rather than a military – power, and we should never waste this credibility in order to follow the national strategy of any single EU member state. What I do want to say is that we should never conceive of the different dimensions of the EU’s external actions separately: trade, development, the promotion of human rights, the Lisbon strategy and so on. They are all intertwined, and we should pursue them all simultaneously, in order to increase the economic as well as the political role of the EU at the global level. A major example of this is the opportunity that we cannot afford to miss with Turkey. The ELDR has the responsibility to defend a vision of Europe in which Turkey figures as a full prospective member. Turkey is experiencing a unique moment in its history, and we should be firm in our support of the ever closer economic and political rapprochement between Ankara and the EU. If we do not prove able to make a positive contribution to solve problems, increase prosperity, enhance stability, promote peace and human rights just outside our borders, how can we convincingly argue and claim that we have a role to play at the global level? In this respect, my impression is that a very good test case is North Cyprus. We can no longer continue as if a solution to this decade-old situation cannot be found. We simply cannot afford, as radicals, as liberals, and as Europeans, not to accept this challenge. We, as radicals and liberals, need to act firmly to make our EU an increasingly global player with the capacity to promote our values and interests, both through trade and economic partnerships, and through coherent political action. Some national governments may resist, believing that they can still - in the year 2007 - go it alone and do well, or even lead. My belief is that we can achieve a lot, and that Europe will grow and mature, provided that we are able to act effectively not only via European leaders, but also through other actors: businesses, NGOs, associations, foundations, think tanks, citizens. This is also, incidentally, the reason why I have subscribed to a recent pan-European project – the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) – by joining an initial membership of 50 like-minded European personalities. Our parties, our political group, and the EP in general, should join forces with such projects and initiatives that advocate a stronger Europe in the world. As a member of the Italian Radicals, as a liberal, and as someone who has always believed that Europe is first and foremost a political project based on peace, democracy, the rule of law and human rights, I have led – together with many of you here today, and others in many corners of Europe – an important battle for a universal moratorium on the death penalty. We are making progress, and my feeling is clear: this progress will only become success if we are able to join forces and make our voice heard at both the European and the international level. This is a perfect example of what I referred to just a minute ago. We can achieve something that will mark the history of our civilisation and human advancement. That is why I believe that the ELDR should become even more assertive and determined on this issue, making the moratorium one of its most valuable political battles. * * * Dear ELDR friends from all over Europe, I have come here today to share all these views with you. Karl Popper once said “it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood”. Luckily enough, I do not feel I am running this risk today, as I am among friends. I am here in Berlin with my fellow Italian Radicals, and on behalf of our party I want to say that we are glad and honoured to be full members of the ELDR. Today, more than ever, the world, the EU, and Italy need liberal and radical values, a liberal and radical vision, a liberal and radical will. The ELDR has a key role to play at the European level, but also in all our member states. In my country, two forces are currently confronting each other, and I am not talking about Left and Right. More subtly than this, one is the force of those who want to keep things as they are, who want to protect privileges and nullify reforms. The other – on the contrary - is all of those who want to move forward, to bring change, to innovate, to free the resources my country is naturally endowed with; all those who want more competition, more merit, more justice and more freedom. I do not need to tell you where the Italian Radicals stand. Our membership of the ELDR party is a source of encouragement and strength to all of us, and we know that we can count on you to advance our common agenda, at the global level, within Europe, and at home. We need to act together, for we are all committed to follow the advice the American philosopher William James once gave when he said that “the greatest use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it”. Grazie. Thank you.

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