3E Intelligence

Social Europe can deal with the challenges posed by globalisation according to a new report written for a European Commission conference on 16 April. But the report fails to mention most of the social impacts of climate change, the looming energy crunch (including high energy and food prices and their social consequences) or growing water scarcity.

The expensive (220,000 euro) report “Is Social Europe Fit for Globalisation?” written by the Brussels Centre for European Policy Studies under the leadership of UK professor Iain Begg was clearly produced “à la tête du client” as it confirms all the policies already put on the EU rails in terms of dealing with the effects of globalisation.

The report does an excellent job at summarising most of the existing “globalisation is good” literature but has extremely little eye for the arguments developed by critics of globalisation. In the press conference on Friday, Iain Begg’s weak defence to journalists’ questions on this was a weak “We listened to the Attac arguments”.

The biggest problem I have with this report is that it completely overlooks the “dark side” of globalisation: the mounting sustainability pressures related to population growth, natural resource use and the rise of the new middle classes in the BRIC countries and its social effects. One wonders whether the Directorate General (DG Employment) which defined the scope and mandate for this study has ever heard of the EU’s Sustainable Development strategy or read the recent Solana paper on the security aspects of the climate crisis.

I agree with the authors of the study that globalisation can be an opportunity (also in terms of a more equal world) rather than a menace but in order to create a sustainable and fair globalisation the world will need a new “one-planet-economy” vision and new global governance structures (not a world government, please) to transform this vision into concrete policies. The CEPS report and the Commission conference is certainly no contribution to that sustainable globalisation debate.

Let’s just hope the Commission’s services will spend the same amount of money to look at this “other side” of the globalisation phenomenon.

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