Speaking at a conference organised by the Commission on 6 April, Commissioner Almunia made the case for a clear and cohesive EU foreign economic policy which would enable Europe to play a key role in the world emerging from the global crisis
6 April 2009.
“Europe not only has the right, but the responsibility to take a more active role in international affairs”, he said. The EU is the largest economic power in the world, with shares in world GDP and trade flows surpassing those of the United States. It is also the world's largest aid donor, and the euro is the world's second most important currency. Europe now needs to play a role on the international arena commensurate with its economic weight.
Commissioner Almunia hailed the landmark agreement reached at the G20 London summit, and stressed the leading role the EU has been taking in the past six months, driving the G20 agenda forward: “If we have succeeded in promoting our agenda at international level, it is because we managed to present a united front and speak with a single voice to our G20 partners”. In his view, the global crisis not only demanded stronger EU co-ordination on international economic and financial policy, but also created a window of opportunity to speak with a single voice.
He identified four priority areas that a European economic policy should be built upon: consolidation of the EU voice in the international financial institutions, in particular the IMF, where he advocated a single euro-area seat; strengthening dialogue and co-ordination in the G-fora; more participation in key international financial bodies like the Financial Stability Board; and continuing to develop the leading role the EU has been taking in the fight against climate change.
Top-level international economists and members of the ECB and the European Commission representing different external policies, such as trade, development and environment, were also invited to share their views at the conference ‘Towards a European Foreign Economic Policy’