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EU President Barroso: Europe will push its values at G-20 summit

The world needs a system of governance that's neither unregulated nor stifled.

By Josè Manuel Barroso / September 23, 2009


The crisis that we face is not just an economic crisis. It is a crisis for the values of our societies.

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At the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh this week, world leaders must respond by demonstrating our commitment to a greener, more ethical, more equitable, and better-balanced world economy.

This "new globalization" requires global governance, based on universal human values and reflecting the reality of economic interdependence. The G-20 gives us the chance to shape globalization. The chance to develop a sustainable model to replace the one brought to its knees by the failure of financial markets.

Europe has a lot to offer as we develop this new global architecture. For 60 years we have been a laboratory for cross-border supranational cooperation. The European model of society strives to surpass the destructive dichotomy of unregulated markets and overpowerful states.

In Europe, before each G-20 meeting, European Union leaders have publicly adopted a clear and united position. We have sought to build partnership, further cementing the ever-closer transatlantic relationship and our rapidly developing links with emerging nations.

We cannot and should not seek to stop globalization. It has created enormous wealth and pulled much of the world out of poverty. Business dealings and cultural exchange have replaced isolationism and mistrust.

Previous economic crises have led to rampant protectionism – and, at worst, to conflicts that have killed tens of millions. This time, in the globalized age, we are working together around the table rather than facing one another on the battlefield.

There are signs that, with the right policy decisions, we can achieve gradual recovery in 2010. But the noble rhetoric of change must not revert to "business as usual" once immediate economic pressure relents.

If recovery is to last, the G-20 must step up reforming financial markets, with zero tolerance for any return to the "bad old ways." Europeans are horrified by banks – some reliant on taxpayers' money – once again paying exorbitant bonuses. In Pittsburgh, the EU will call for coordinated action to stop this, building on measures already taken in Europe and elsewhere.

This is not a witch-hunt for bankers. More effective regulation is in the interests of any responsible financial sector, and prudent financial institutions must not be at the mercy of their competitors' recklessness.

On the eve of the G-20, the European Commission is pushing forward a blueprint for a European system of cross-border financial supervision. We believe that it can serve as inspiration for a global system based on similar principles.

Meanwhile, we must keep our resolve. We must carry through the economic stimulus that has ensured recession has not turned to depression. Our number-one priority must be saving and creating sustainable jobs.