For Europe to count it must adapt to a world where its importance has become relative. Economic power and economic opportunities have now shifted to the countries of the East and South to the emerging powers of Brazil, India, China and other parts of Asia.

The EU's impact and influence suffer from lack of 'joined-up' global policy. Multilateral objectives are not effectively pursued in bilateral partnerships and vice-versa. Greater synergy between the multilateral and bilateral levels would contribute to a more coherent and visible role allowing the EU to present a more decisive and coherent message to partners. Today, influence incresaingly lies with networks of states with fluid and dynmaic patterns of allegiance, alliance and connections, including the informal, which acts as vital channels of influence and decision-making and require new forms of engagement from the EU and the use of more channels such as civil society, businesses, lobby groups to carry out EU arguments in the public opinion around the world as well as around international negotiation tables. The EU needs to ensure that its diplomacy is sufficiently agile, innovative in nature and global in reach to create its own criss-crossing networks of strengthened multilateral and bilateral relations.

A coherent global policy also needs to address the inconsitencies in EU external policy that have led to a loss of support and faith in the EU at the global level, particularly in the case of trade and human rights policies.

The EU also needs to resolve Member States differences in order to improve its relations with the emerging powers. The EU is a much stronger player at both the multilateral and bilateral levels when it is united. Success at the UN and the WTO and with partners such as China comes from the EU has already reached a consensus among its members. Reasons for EU successes and failures in specific cases require further scrutiny, but clearly unity of purpose is a crucial factor. Working for greater consensus between Member States require leadership and painstaking diplomacy, but it is a prerequisite for strenghtening the EU's global role. Once this first step is taken, Member States pay put an end to bilateral agreements that do not follow the EU line, and the EU will have the confidence to punch its weight alongside Russia, China, India and other global powers. The EU has the potential through the capabilities of its Member States to be considered a candidate for greater power status but it needs better coordination and integration. In short the EU must change course!


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