The Great Debate
A European Agenda to the World’s Stage
We Europeans now know more than ever before about walking the tightrope, forging consensus among dozens of nations, balancing the need to regulate and supervise cross-border interactions while recognizing the interests and culture of each individual country. These are precisely the skills that the vast majority of the Israelis and the Palestinians crave, to bring them together around their common interests and challenges.
For centuries, Europe has always been a union of royal decrees promulgated by the aristocracy, knitted together by marriage. Today, the European nations have evolved from the centuries of absolute monarchies to advanced representative democracies. European democracies foster inclusiveness, participation, political debate, multiparty representation and majoritarian policy based on a consensus of viewpoints and broad public support.
Is Europe a single federation or a union of individual nations? Both! When it comes to sports, we root for the home team. How many gold medals did Europe win? We don’t care. In the Netherlands, we only care about our own Olympiads. Parenthetically, we Europeans did win more Olympic gold medals than the United States or China or Russia.
But geopolitically, Europe often votes as one bloc. The European Union enjoys many of the advantages of a single nation, such as a vast common market of five hundred million people, governed by a supranational European Parliament, representing the second largest democratic electorate in the world, after India. When it’s time to cast votes in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, and other global institutions, Europe suddenly splits into separate countries with over two dozen or so votes to cast on behalf of the European position, compared with one vote for the United States, one vote for China, or one vote for Russia. The European Union is, by default, the most powerful and most influential member of the G-20 of developed and developing nations, which represents 85 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, most of the world’s population, and many of the world’s largest emerging market economies. In this new, more inclusive forum, neither the United States nor any other nation has veto power. This means that the G-20 is likely to be a more competitive platform for international relations and diplomacy.
A distinct European Way has emerged. Europe is reshaping the world. It has become a global leader that is illuminating the path forward, bolstered with:
An Economy Almost As Large as the United States and China Combined
The European Union, with its 28 member nations and more than half-billion people, has become the largest, wealthiest trading bloc in the world, producing nearly a third of the world’s economy – almost as large as the United States and China combined.
Unapologetic Capitalism but Uniquely European
With significantly more Fortune 500 companies than the United States, China or Japan, the World Economic Forum’s rankings of national economic competitiveness regularly list European nations in most of the top spots. European companies are corporate America’s biggest targets for foreign investment, far more than businesses in China or elsewhere in Asia. Conversely, European businesses accounts for nearly 75 percent of all foreign investment in the United States, being the top foreign investors, with more than $1.4 trillion in investments per year.
The Magic of Europe
The magic of Europe lies in our unique brand of capitalism. We will continuously learn to share capitalism’s tremendous wealth-creating capacity to not just take care of our own (welfare) but to empower the individual to eventually contribute even more to the greater economy (workfare). Europe has become a true ‘workfare’ state that guarantees health care, education, pensions, housing, transportation, clean energy and infrastructural development to generate jobs, jobs, and more jobs. Europe works together with entrepreneurs, the job creators, by subsidizing a comprehensive system of institutions geared toward keeping individuals and families healthy and productive, educated and trained, and working.
Military Strength Combined with Political Fortitude
Europe has the second largest military budget in the world after the United States, with France and Britain possessing nuclear weapons. Over two million European soldiers are in uniform (more than the U.S.) and as many boots are on the ground in peacekeeping missions around the globe in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia, the Congo, and elsewhere. Plus, Europe is home to the National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) the largest military power on earth. But Europe’s real strength is in ‘playing it smart’. The European Union has had lots of practice at forging consensus. Europe’s Smart Power is a skill set that forges large segments of the world together over the many challenges we collectively face in the twenty-first century.
Building the Bridge
Let us enrapture the leadership of Europe to unleash this Win-Win Formula for the vast majority of the people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian Quest to Living Apart Together as a final step toward forging constructive co-existence. We are pro-Israeli AND pro-Palestinian. We want the best for both.
Mr. Steven Hill, author of Europe’s Promise … Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, says:
“… from Europe we see the style of leadership necessary to bring the world together over its many challenges rather than watching nations divide into warring camps over finite resources while the planet’s atmosphere overheats. Truly we are all in the same boat now, and the European Way comes closest to manifesting that awareness”.
This article, ‘A European Agenda to the World Stage’ is adapted from: Hill, Steven, Europe’s Promise Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, University of California Press, 2009
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