Glopolis is a non-partisan, non-governmental organization which focuses on the analysis of economic globalization, trade, development, agriculture and climate change.
In his article „A summit to help steady the EU“ Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer outlined indicators of success for the European Council meeting last week. However, while that meeting somewhat salvaged the dented image of the Czech Presidency, it did little to deliver on the demands that Glopolis has made in favour of the world’s poor.
The Czech Republic took the EU Presidency over amid multiple crises. The financial crisis unfolded at a key moment in the global negotiations for a low-carbon future, against a backdrop of consistently high food prices and as the EU sought a major transformation of its institutions. At the same time, the Government of Mirek Topolanek fought an uphill domestic battle with opportunistic opposition and a self-centered President. Despite representing a rather small, inward-looking and new member state, both the Topolanek and Fischer Governments fared better under these harsh conditions than the media portrayed. More than fifty EU decisions were passed in a fair and transparent manner, a good record even for larger and more experienced member states.
Yet, although last week’s European Council may have succeeded in moving the EU closer to the Lisbon Treaty and strengthening financial regulation, ultimately, it only testified to the deterioration of the EU’s leadership on the global scene. Reconfirmation of the EU’s old aid targets and CO2 reduction targets is commendable, but far from sufficient.
Little was done to change systemic issues both at EU and global levels. Bolder reforms of the international financial architecture were avoided, including automatic tax exchange and country by country reporting by multinational corporations. While the Czech Presidency is justifiably proud of keeping EU - particularly French - protectionist instincts at bay, it is still incapable of admitting the negative role of trade (especially financial services) liberalisation in this crisis.
On climate change, big words from the EU turned into pragmatic defence of short-term economic interests, a dangerous set-up at a critical moment for the Copenhagen summit. Support for accountable and representative UN-based climate finance mechanisms remained weak. The Council Conclusions confirmed a lack of political will to put figures on the table regarding both the total amount of financing needed and the EU’s fair share in funding adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.
Glopolis believes that there can hardly be solutions for the global crises without EU recognition of the need to take global leadership beyond economic short-termism. The Swedish Presidency and the UN high-level conference on the crisis are the key opportunities now for the EU to reverse the decline of its global leadership where and when it is most needed.