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Liz Mohn and Austrian Chancellor Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel in front of a modern painting

2005 Salzburg Trilogue

Global responsibility – What’s Europe’s message?

The concept of a unified Europe lacks the political cohesiveness, emotional resonance and military might for Europe to truly play a geopolitical role and assume global responsibility. At the same time, Europe takes too little interest in changes around the world and too much pleasure in its own Eurocentrism. This was the final assessment of the 22 experts from 11 nations who were invited by Austrian Chancellor Dr. Wolfgang Schüssel and Liz Mohn, vice-chair of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Executive Board, to take part in the 2005 Salzburg Trilogue.

Over the course of one and a half days, the roundtable discussions led by Chancellor Schüssel looked at the ways in which Europe might prepare itself for presenting a unified message to the world. Recognizing that the social, environmental and security policy challenges that loom ahead will all be global in scale, the Trilogue attendees agreed that political, business and cultural leaders must act together in order to respond effectively.

Wolfgang Schäuble, deputy chairman of the CDU/CSU party in Germany’s parliament, voiced the view that Europe can only successfully overcome these challenges with the support of a close transatlantic partnership. What matters is not Europe’s own specific message, but a message from the entire Western world as it faces these global challenges as one.

Pascal Lamy, Secretary General of the WTO, called for the European Union to step up its efforts to promote multilateralism and sustainability. He views these principles, as advocated by Europe, as essential to achieving long-term global security. But they require the various international organizations to better align and coordinate their work, and that is unfortunately still a long way off.

Spanish composer and conductor Cristóbal Halffter said that Europe’s main task is incorporating its values and cultural achievements into the dialogue among civilizations. This is particularly important for dialogue with societies that did not experience the Enlightenment. Europe needs to stand up for a humanistic worldview, gender equality, human rights and the separation of church and state. In this way, Europe could become the cradle of Islamic renewal over the long term, just as Islam sparked the renewal of Europe during the Middle Ages through its presence in Spain.

The focus of the round table was a discussion paper published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung. It can be ordered or downloaded as a PDF file along with other Trilogue presentations. 

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Global Responsibility – What’s Europe’s Message?

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