By Anthony Fletcher - 14th November 2007
STRASBOURG: MEPs on all sides urged both the commission and member states to act in the interests of the whole of Europe in parliament’s Wednesday plenary debate on globalisation.
However, deep divisions remain over whether globalisation is in itself a positive goal, and over where the limits of a truly globalised economy would be.
ALDE leader Graham Watson warned that if Europe sat on its hands, it would "miss the chance to steer globalisation in Europe's collective interests".
He also criticised the commission's report on globalisation as too narrowly focused on the Lisbon agenda, and called for a more holistic approach which "brings together the Lisbon agenda, the Cardiff agenda of social policy and the Gothenburg agenda of environmental sustainability".
ALDE colleague Margarita Starkeviciute added that the EU must play a dynamic and pro-active role in the global economy, and that it was still too hesitant.
“The EU must become a champion of self-improvement rather than state-dependency," she said.
EPP-ED group chair Joseph Daul stressed that globalisation should be accompanied by security mechanisms for European citizens.
"If globalisation is to be a factor of prosperity, it must also be fair,” he argued.
“We have always voted for free trade, but a trade based on strict rules.”
According to Daul, Europe must strengthen its domestic market by increasing funds for research and development.
UK PES deputy Gary Titley said that if the EU was to be fit to address 21st century globalisation, it needed modern social policies that combine flexibility with fairness.
“Our social values must remain central to economic prosperity,” he said.
"Beyond our borders we must secure a breakthrough in the Doha trade round and strive for stability in the Middle East."
However, Czech GUE/NGL MEP Jirí Maštálka argued that parliament's joint resolution on globalisation does not address the interests and concerns of EU citizens.
MEPs, he said, had "absolutely failed to recognise the negative impact of globalisation" and that they were "offering people nothing but propaganda on how to resolve the dilemmas associated with globalisation".
In its alternative proposals, GUE/NGL focused on the fight against poverty.
Addressing the plenary session in Strasbourg, Portuguese secretary of state for European affairs Manuel Lobo Antunes said that globalisation was not just an economic phenomenon to analyse but a question of jobs, regions in crisis, security and environmental threats.
“But it is also about new job opportunities, new production sectors and lower prices for a wide range of products, contributing for a better allocation of financial resources and commerce growth in both the goods and services areas,” he said.
“Above all, facing and regulating globalisation is a decisive question for our democracies, even for the concept of effective democracy - knowing whether we are capable of keeping, in the hands of our people and our elected representatives, the political control of fundamental options concerning economic governance and a whole range of other aspects in our lives.”