The unification and integration movement that over the last 50 years has led to the creation of the European Union is undoubtedly a part of the phenomenon called globalization. It is therefore not surprising that the ‘EU, its institutions, its policies, as well as its accomplishments, are exposed to the attacks of so-called anti-globalization protesters, who ascribe to the global era the responsibility of all forms of crises, in particular in the field of economic and social policy.What is globalization? It’s no more nor less than the gradual extension of the scope in which we think and act, to encompass the whole world. We have gained full awareness of it only during the last decades. It’s a long-term movement, the pace of which will become evident only in centuries’ time. It began with discovery voyages in the course of the Fifteenth century, which confirmed the shape of the earth. It spread through the “colonization” of the non-European world that reached its peak in the Nineteenth century. Globalization is a phenomenon that today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, tends to include all of humanity with increasing impact on life, work and the economy.The Twentieth century might be described as the “era of globalization”, because it has brought with it a marked acceleration of this movement. The two world wars represented the consequences, but also the catalysts for this development. The ‘experience of these tragedies and the efforts that have been made to reorganize the world in a new way, have also rekindled an awareness of the challenges, threats and opportunities linked to globalization. It is this very awareness that makes us view the globalization crisis as a situation of transition and struggle for power on the configuration and the future of a unique world.The establishment of the League of Nations after the First World War and the United Nations after the Second, followed by international agreements for the control and the planning of various dimensions of political, economic, social and cultural co-existence, were the first significant signs of political awareness, the new circumstances arising from globalization.Over the past decades, globalization has taken on a new shape, consisting not only in a prominent role in the public arena after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In fact, even the current conditions have changed significantly, since the demarcation lines beyond which the communist regime had sought to build and maintain its own alternative world, against history, have disappeared.The driving forces of globalization are to be found in human nature, which cannot be limited to a certainty, a situation or a place. Rather, with the help of his intellect and his imagination man seeks to open up to increasingly larger arenas. In theological terms, the human person is following the order of creatures: “Subjugate the world”. Which means: research and science, knowledge and invention, discovery and development, overcoming distance, dominating space…There ensues that globalization is not a result of politics. In fact, it is anthropologically determined, it is the result of a cultural process and not the product of politics. Politics (government politics, as well as business politics) follows globalization, to the extent that it takes into account the effects of globalization or the possibilities and opportunities it brings with it. Therefore, it is misleading to blame governments or multinational companies to be at the service of globalization policies, to obtain free-trade zones, which would allow them to make profits avoiding social costs. This does not mean that the question on the integration of the social dimension is unrelated to globalization! It is an urgent matter also in the context of globalization, as Pope Francis recalled in his address to the World Economic Forum. But the question of social costs arises not only in this context, but also in general in relation to politics, regardless of the place it refers to.Globalization is a process that sooner or later will result in a single area of communication and action. This does not mean that other areas of communication and action at continental, regional, or local level will disappear. Indeed, it is very likely that globalization will also boost the movement towards the recovery and the articulation of territorial identities. The revival of local and regional authorities – a side effect or as a result and perhaps also as a condition of European integration- testifies to this fact.Experience and common sense tell us that the future stability of the world, which is likely to evolve towards unity also in political terms, will depend substantially on the vitality of its continental, regional and local sub-systems. European Unification has a value even from this perspective, and has particular importance as a contribution to the political, economic and social dimension of globalization.
Politics, economy and society from a global perspective. The role of the EU