Herman van Rompuy: Far from being in terminal decline, Europe's best days lie ahead

Share
Related Topics

Let's look at the way the world is changing. Shakespeare encapsulated it in this beautiful phrase: "There is a tide in the affairs of men". We live in the midst of historical currents. On the geopolitical ocean, one must know the tides in order to steer a course, to change direction, to bring one's ship safely back to port. In the ports of Bruges and Zeebrugge, this ancient wisdom of the seafarers still holds true. Now what is happening to the tides?

The last few weeks and months, certain signs of long-term changes came to the surface. The results and dealings of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen last December constituted one such sign. Europe was waiting in the corridor, while the US and China struck a deal. At least that was the perception.

A second such sign were the recent forecasts for economic growth of China, India, the US and Europe in 2010.

A third sign was the announcement of President Obama, in late January, that he would stop the Nasa programme to go to the moon. These signs are adding up to a bleak mood in some circles. Some talk of a "decline of the West". They compare it to the "rise of the rest", comprising of China, India, Brazil and the rest. It is sunset versus sunrise. Others think that it is only Europe facing trouble. They warn of a "G2" taking power at the global level, meaning the US and China, thus leaving Europe and other actors out.

Let me say straight away that I consider these conclusions very exaggerated. Both statements are wrong. There is no "G2". And since the fall of communism, Europe has been the most stable region in the world. Recently we proved that we are able to cope with the unprecedented financial crisis. We have avoided a repetition of the errors of the 1930s. Within a year, and in striking contrast to 70 years ago, we are back on the track to positive economic growth.

Our relationship with the United States is very strong. The transatlantic link remains by far the strongest relationship in world affairs, both economically and politically. In my view the "declinist" mood reflects the (somewhat belated) public perception that a new game is taking place. We witness the end of one phase of globalisation and the beginning of a new one.

Taken from a speech by the President of the European Council to the Collège d'Europe in Bruges last week

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuous expansion and growth o...

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of Yorkshire

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Systems Engineer - East Riding of...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Craig Oliver, David Cameron’s Director of Communications  

i Editor's Letter: Poultry excuses from chicken spin doctors

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Women come back from the fields to sell vegetables at a market in Bangui, Central African Republic  

International Women's Day: Africa's women need to believe in themselves and start leading the way

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba
Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable