The Parliament (Link) - Martin Banks (January 14, 2011)
Joschka Fischer, the former German foreign minister, has warned the EU to beware of a looming crisis which he says could “dwarf” the current economic downturn.
Speaking in parliament, the leading Green politician said the EU stands the risk of being left behind as the global “balance of power” shifts eastwards.
Fischer used his address to a packed conference to call for greater European unity and for Europe to “combine our interests” to weather the economic storm.
He warned that amidst debate about how to tackle the fiscal crisis another potentially much more serious threat had, so far, remained “undiscussed.”
“I am talking about the shifting balance of power in the word, from the west to the east,” he declared.
“The world is rapidly changing and the EU has to ensure that it is not left behind. It is not easy to predict how the world will look in 10 years, but we are already seeing a transfer of wealth eastwards with the emergence of fast-growing economies in China and India.
“The irony and the thing that I find rather amusing, though not in a funny way, is that people in Europe continue to focus on potential transfer of sovereignty to Brussels while totally overlooking another much more serious transfer of sovereignty.”
Speaking in parliament’s main hemicycle, the veteran politician added, “The crisis has taught us a severe lesson and we must learn. It requires more unity, at least in the euro area. I am still optimistic however, that the crisis will lead Europe to establish an economic union. I see no alternative.
“It’s very simple. Every day we are losing part of our sovereignty to the emerging powers. Yet we still wonder if we should abandon our sovereignty in favour of the EU or not.
“We are losing that sovereignty anyway. It’s just that it is going to non-European powers in the east like China. We are losing importance and losing our position. The world is changing dramatically and the question that Europeans must answer is what will be the place of Europe in 10 years.”
Fischer was the keynote speaker at an event organised by the Spinelli group, a think tank striving for a federal Europe.
It was created in September 2010 by Liberal MEPs Guy Verhofstadt and Sylvie Goulard, Green MEPs Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Isabelle Durant.
French philosopher Jean-Marc Ferry also took part in the conference. †