Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: none


José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

"Managing instability: Global Challenges and the Crisis of Global Governance"

Munich Security Conference
Munich, 7 February 2009



Prime Ministers,

Vice President,

Honoured guests,

Let me begin by thanking the Wehrkunde Chairman for giving me the honour of delivering the keynote speech at this lunch.

I believe this is the first time a President of the European Commission has been invited to speak at the Munich Security Conference. Could this mean the Commission is thinking of strengthening its divisions of bureacrats with those of the military kind? Or in fact does it mean that the security dimension is widening beyond its hard military core?

Thanks to technology, communication and the continuing spread of democracy and greater freedom, we are now in the midst of a global revolution that will change our world in ways we cannot yet imagine.

This has brought many advantages, not least the lifting out of poverty of hundreds of millions of people.

But the challenges that follow in globalisation's wake are real and significant too:

  • turmoil in closely linked financial markets;
  • global pandemics;
  • terrorism;
  • energy security or insecurity;
  • competition for food and raw materials;
  • and climate change.

These challenges are already starting to have serious geopolitical and social repercussions.

[I came to Munich directly from Moscow, and I can confirm that gas and energy has definitely assumed a security and geopolitical dimension.]

Through its comprehensive approach to security - in particular by addressing the nexus of security and development - the EU plays a key role in meeting these global security challenges.

In the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy - and using the different development and crisis management tools managed by the European Commission - the EU has embedded its comprehensive approach to security in many different operations - from Kosovo and Chad to Georgia and Congo, and of course, Afghanistan, to which I will come back later).

The link between internal and external policies have also become more pronounced as the EU continues to enlarge and develop its web of co-operation with its European neighbours, as well as with other partners and regions.

To meet today's global security threats, the European Security Strategy calls for a more effective multilateralism as the only way forward.

Close co-operation with the UN and NATO [and others such as OSCE, AU] are essential for a more effective multilateralism.

But for Europe, our indispensable partner in this endeavour to build an effective multilateral system will always be the United States. Not just because of our shared values and deep, historical links. But also because we have traditionally provided the ballast for the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, the G8 and other multilateral organisations and partnerships that make up the international system.

But that system is increasingly under siege, just as we need it most. Legitimacy is being questioned. Effectiveness needs to be improved. Decision-making must be more efficient.

The truth of the matter is, the strategic effect of the transatlantic partnership, so positive in the past, will start to evaporate unless we succeed in complementing it with a new politics of global engagement that reaches out to the rest of the world, in search of new partnerships and effective multilateral strategies.

It is time to make room at the top table for others. It is time to encourage our other partners to see that they too have an interest in, and responsibility for, the global community. Because that is the only way we can consolidate and strengthen a stable, multilateral world, governed by internationally-agreed rules.

The alternative is a multipolar world riven by extreme competition and even conflict. In international relations, partnerships can achieve so much more.

At the same time, we must also maintain our citizens' support for this global engagement. This is even more important in times of economic crisis, because the temptation to retreat into populism and protectionism is strong. But however tempting, this comes with a high price tag – and it’s a price none of us can afford.

In a globalised economy, economic governance must also be global. November's G20 Summit in Washington was an encouraging start. Now we face the tough task of turning words into action. Expectations are high for the next summit in London on 2 April. The world needs a new financial order, and our aim must be to achieve nothing less.

And as I mentioned, the struggle to contain the damage caused by climate change is the defining battle of our generation. According to the UN, it is already the main driver of natural disasters around the world. We must therefore continue our efforts to reach a global agreement in Copenhagen later this year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As you can see, the EU is playing an increasingly important role in facing up to global security challenges, and reaching out to others in recognition of the fact that common problems require common solutions.

These range from 'soft' security concerns like reducing poverty and inequality, to 'hard' security concerns. And, as I have mentioned, we need strategies to address both simultaneously, as in Afghanistan, for example.

Afghanistan needs our long-term commitment in delivering both hard and soft security.

The EU is the single biggest donor in Afghanistan, and the Commission's funds are a big part of that effort. We are already committed to providing substantial support to Afghanistan for at least the next four years, notably for the police, public health and the agricultural sector (ie. to develop alternative livelihoods). We have disbursed some €1.6bn for projects and national programmes in these sectors since 2006.

We are the biggest donor to police salaries, for example, but are now also focusing on reform of the country’s justice institutions.

Clearly, this is indispensable if we want to make progress in overall security sector reform. More professional justice institutions are also needed to improve the legitimacy of the Afghan government throughout the country.

And we are acutely aware that Pakistan is the key to creating a stable regional environment for the success of our efforts in Afghanistan. Therefore, we are also active in assisting Pakistan, particularly in the fields of education and rural development (€200m for 2007-2010) and in supporting civilian governance as a bulwark against extremism, for instance via election observation missions.

I could give other examples. But I'm a firm believer that lunchtime speeches should be short!

So let me end by recalling the words of a prickly prophet who proved a most welcome thorn in the side of both East and West. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose loss we mourned only last summer, saw earlier than most how interdependent the nations of the world were becoming.

During his Nobel Lecture in 1970, he mocked those who still thought they could go it alone, who thought that any challenge they faced was an internal affair, and nobody else's business.

He said: "...there are no internal affairs left on our crowded Earth! And mankind's sole salvation lies in everyone making everything his business; in the people of the East being vitally concerned with what is thought in the West, the people of the West vitally concerned with what goes on in the East."

Nearly 40 years later, it is time to recognise this truth, and rebuild our global institutions not just to make them worthy of their name, but to ensure mankind's salvation in the face of global threats that we can only tackle together.

Thank you.

Side Bar