Mark Leonard: Europe Will Run the 21st Century

Mark Leonard is Executive Director of the first pan-European think-tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations. It was launched in late 2007 with backing from the Soros Foundations Network, Fride, the Communitas Foundation, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and the Unicredit Group.

His first book, Why Europe will run the 21st Century, published in the UK by 4th Estate in February 2005, has been translated into 17 languages. His second book What does China think? will be published later in the year.

Mark writes and broadcasts regularly on international affairs – assignments which have led him to seek out barbecues in Texas, prisoners in Egypt and cutting-edge architecture in China. His work has appeared in publications including The Financial Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Telegraph, Prospect, The Spectator, New Statesman, Foreign Policy, The Washington Quarterly, Country Life, Arena, The Mirror, The Express, and The Sun.

Mark also acts an adviser to companies and governments on China, Middle East Reform, the future of Europe and Public Diplomacy; occassionally collaborating with the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas to produce work for clients ranging from the European Commission to Prada.

  • Transcript


Mark Leonard:  I think Europe will run the 21st century, not in the sense of being the most powerful economic block in the world, or the most powerful military block in the world.  But what I argued in my book is that the European way of doing things is uniquely relevant to the era of globalization that we’ve entered at the moment.  And I argue that the European Union is maybe the most important political innovation since the nation state was created 500 years ago.  So I think this experiment which we see in the European Union shows how countries can work together to solve problems that cut across borders.  European countries have come together and created the biggest single market in the world, the most advanced way of dealing with problems like environmental pollution, organized crime, terrorism across borders.  And they’ve done it in a way that relies on international law rather than military competition and the balance of power between different countries.  That is a sort of revolution in international relations, and it’s one which is both going to become more important within Europe itself, as more and more countries join the European Union, and it continues to grow.  Already has a billion people, but eventually could end up with many more countries in it.  But also it is being copied in all other parts of the world.  In Latin America they’re developing a medical surety, in Africa, the African Union.  And even in East Asia, they’re talking about building an East Asian Community modeled on the European Union.  If that happens in every part of the world, it’s got its own regional union, and you see the development of new, international organizations based on the principles with which the European Union is run.  What you could see is a European Century, not because you’re running the world like an empire, but because the European way of doing things becomes the world’s way of doing things.  I think that that is likely to happen, just because there are so many problems that cut across borders now.  We need to have fresh thinking about how we deal with it.  The European Union is the most innovative and flexible way of dealing with it.  And secondly, I think it would be a much better world
if it’s run like that, than the status quo.  So I hope I’m right, as well.


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