By Jean-Claude Trichet
The views expressed are his own.
PARIS – Whenever people seek a justification for European integration, they are always tempted to look backwards. They stress that European integration banished the specter of war from the old continent. And European integration has, indeed, delivered the longest period of peace and prosperity that Europe has known for many centuries.
But this perspective, while entirely correct, is also incomplete. There are as many reasons to strive towards “ever closer union” in Europe today as there were back in 1945, and they are entirely forward-looking.
Sixty-five years ago, the distribution of global GDP was such that Europe had only one role model for its single market: the United States. Today, however, Europe is faced with a new global economy, reconfigured by globalization and by the emerging economies of Asia and Latin America.
It is a world where economies of scale and networks of innovation matter more than ever. By 2016 – that is, very soon – we can expect eurozone GDP in terms of purchasing power parity to be below that of China. Together, the economies of China and India could be around twice the size of the eurozone economy. Over a longer time horizon, the entire GDP of the G-7 countries will be dwarfed by the major emerging economies’ rapid growth.
So Europe must cope with a new geopolitical landscape that is being profoundly reshaped by these emerging economies. In this new global constellation, European integration – both economic and political – is central to achieving ongoing prosperity and influence.