Now that the Treaty of Lisbon is on track, it is time for Europe to roll up its sleeves and get to work meeting the challenges of globalisation. Even if the message - aimed primarily at a domestic audience - reiterated on 14 December by Gordon Brown may have been meant solely to mask the debate on the Union's institutional future (a very hot issue in his country), the British prime minister was right to say that Europe has no time to waste, given the emergence of the Asian giants.

The declaration on globalisation adopted by the European Council confirms that a page is indeed being turned. In terms of form, the declaration - unimaginable only two years ago after French rejection of the Constitution - confirms that the 27 have found a way to speak with a single voice on the highly sensitive subject of the beneficial effects of globalisation.

On substance, it manages to reconcile the irreconcilable. The Lisbon agenda is presented as the only long-term remedy capable of bolstering the EU's competitiveness. To dispel certain fears, however, it states that this agenda must also "guarantee a strong social dimension".

At global level, the Union carves in stone its free-trade creed of "promoting growth, jobs and development," to the great satisfaction of the British and its main supporters. In exchange for...

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