October 1, 2007

Europe: a transformative power

Over the last two decades the EU has shown more of the energy of youth than listless decline. Having built up the world’s biggest single market, most generous aid budget and largest army of peacekeepers, the Union has accumulated the wherewithal to become a transformative power: it has the means to tilt the world towards its formula of democracy, human rights, multilateralism and the principles of open society.

Unlike other great powers in history, it does not project itself by threatening to invade other countries. Instead, it dangles benefits – from the common market to the possibility of EU membership – that are withheld until these countries adopt European norms. European leadership has led to global legal regimes such as the World Trade Organisation. It has persuaded others to sign up to the Kyoto agreement and the International Criminal Court. European troop deployments in Macedonia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Aceh monitoring mission, have safeguarded peace processes.

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