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Nevertheless, over this 25 year period

there has also been tensions and crises,

in Europe and elsewhere in the world,

highlighting the weaknesses of our

economic system. Globalisation has gone

hand-in-hand with massive deregulation,

bowing to the myth that “the market” 

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could

solve the problems of global development.

Nevertheless, growth continued in our

Western societies, helping us to forget that

it was nurtured to a large extent by the

disfunctionality it gave rise to: by social

inequalities, and by unlimited exploitation

of natural resources, with an unsuspected

impact on climate change. But it cannot be

said that we were not forewarned. We only

need to recall the warning of Club of Rome

in the early 1970’s or, more recently, of Al

Gore, the 2007 winner of the Nobel Peace

Prize for his fight against global warming.

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From the 1980’s onwards, the “Washington

Consensus” has served as a basis for interventions

of major international organisations, advocating

the liberalisation of trade and financial markets, the

privatisation of state enterprises and deregulation.

Unchecked globalisation

and weaknesses in the

European construction

The subprime crisis sparked by the failure

of Lehman Brothers in 2008 and the

subsequent sovereign debt crisis sparked

a meltdown of the system. A third crisis –

and one with the potential to have a much

more ground impact, is the ecological

crisis. Yet responses to this crisis, and

proposals for transitional policies, remain

sadly lacking in the face of recession,

national egoism and conservatism.

Unchecked globalisation, an increasingly

inequitable distribution of wealth, a

financial system without proper controls,

and property speculation leading to

unsustainable growth – all these have

produced a situation that is unprecedented

since the 1930s.

This situation has been exacerbated

by the fragility of the European project,

and the difficulty in choosing between

deepening and enlarging, and between

the “open market” and truly common

policies. Ambitious initiatives such as the

single currency were undertaken, though

without – at least at that time – adequate

governance instruments.

“We need to think about how to influence the mutation and how to

create structures and rules which mitigate the perversities of the

system and which encourage behaviours by individuals, companies and

communities which innovate behaviourally to respond to the problems

of the future. In this sense local initiatives are very important. They

represent a large pool of innovation and experimentation which will be

invaluable in meeting the challenges of the future.”

Chris Brooks,

Expert in international economic cooperation

Reinventing Europe through Local Initiative |

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