Lib Dem Martin Shapland: Europe as a global player

Liberal Democrat discusses Britain’s role within the EU

Martin Shapland is a Liberal Youth Executive and International Officer

Martin Shapland is a Liberal Youth Executive and International Officer

The power balance of the world today is shifting and no single nation will be powerful forever. The economy is the indicator; the workshops of Britain are now tourist attractions. In the wake of this financial crisis the banks and car factories in the American Cities and rust belt will surely stand idle. In this shift, it is to the east that economic power moves, to China, and India, and the emerging powers in Asia. With that new found economic wealth will come greater diplomatic, military and ideological power, but what of Britain and Europe?

As the world moves from being uni-polar to multi-polar, with many centres of power of regional and global importance, Europe will become the lynchpin. The European Union is itself a model of a multi-polar regional system, which has the diversity, strength, and mindset to forge ahead as a leading global player. Our markets are too large for America or China, or anyone for that matter, to ignore. Our collective military power is too great to threaten or cajole, our democratic legacy will be the benchmark by which the rest of the world can follow. At least it can be if European co-operation is strengthened and developed and the role model of equals treated equally continues to work.

Britain has always been a global player, whether on its own forging empire, or in alliance, as in world war, or the United Nations, and whilst no individual nation can be powerful forever, working with our partners and friends in Europe, as well as our traditional allies in the Commonwealth and America, seems the logical next step for Britain’s future.

The world is moving on, and whilst no-one will be able to ignore America, its power has limits and it will no longer be able to call all of the shots. Whilst in the same way, neither will China, or Britain. The EU model, with equal and sovereign nation states working together is a different model to both the Chinese or American system, and its flexibility is its strength. The European model of co-operation and engagement is the only one which will fit long term, in the globalising world of today. We are all now interdependent, and where we work together we will prosper, where we seek to divide we will be poorer for it.

Some people will tell you that Europe has no role, and that Britain should stand in glorious isolation. No. We are stronger together, and poorer apart. Britain should engage and work with those that share our values and beliefs. We are big players, and lending our weight to the European Union will ensure that as the world moves into a new era of power dispersion, Europe, and Britain will remain relevant and big players on the global stage.

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