Europe as a Global Macro-Region
Edited by Kathy Pain and Gilles Van Hamme
Chapter 2: Europe as a global actor - between decline and inconsistency
Globalization has profoundly reshaped spatial relations across the world from the late twentieth century onwards and in this context Europe has been swept up in dynamic changes both in terms of its internal relations and its relations with the rest of the world. Over time, Europe has increased its links with the rest of the world through all kinds of flows and interconnections, becoming a major economic and political actor at a global scale. However, Europe's strong integration in the global economy impacts on its territories very differently because they participate in external relations with the world to different degrees and they have different capacities to meet the opportunities and challenges posed by increasingly open and competitive global markets. In fact, we find that Europe remains a highly integrated and still moderately open territory where, surprisingly, most connections and flows are internal. So, in this chapter, we examine the position of Europe in the global economy focusing on the interplay between the macro-regional scale defined by intense functional and political relations and the world of flows and networks taking a long-term perspective where possible. Without doubt, Europe remains a prosperous world macro-region, at the top of the international division of labour. Yet, at the same time, decline is evident in various European economic domains and this is certain to continue during the next decade, going hand in hand with the shrinking of its influence in most parts of the world.
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