In a changing world of seven billion people, no individual country is big enough to go it alone. Only a strong EU, speaking with one voice, can protect European interests, maintain our global influence, secure decent European jobs, improve living standards, reduce poverty and create a safer world. Global challenges demand a co-ordinated and efficient European response.
At the same time, we also believe that the EU's external relations are not the business of Brussels policymakers and national diplomats. We believe in creating an open, inclusive dialogue with national parliaments, civil society and citizens of all ages, to enable a constant flow of views and ideas about Europe's role in the world.
For us, the concept of effective multilateralism has always been a guiding principle in global affairs. We believe in fostering a co-ordinated international approach based on the rule of law and regulating political and economic competition. This would help solve the current financial and economic crisis and provide effective institutional responses to key global challenges such as climate change, international conflicts and wars, trade disputes and breaches of international law.
United Nations Security Council reform
We also want to see changes in how decisions are made in today's fast-paced world. From the financial crisis to climate change, the international community is too slow to take action. An increasingly unrepresentative and anachronistic UN Security Council speaks with diminishing authority – for example in the case of the crisis in Syria. The S&Ds are therefore committed to UN Security Council reform, which should reflect today's realities but should not reward behaviour that goes against the UN's Charter.
Trade can be a powerful instrument for growth, jobs and social improvements – but only if the right conditions are met. The S&Ds insist on fair trade, in the sense that no nation should be allowed to engage in unfair trading practices such as social or environmental dumping. Fair trade can support our development and humanitarian goals and allows European consumers and workers to benefit from international trade. We believe it can and should create economic growth to reduce poverty; help combat discrimination and improve the situation of women and children; strengthen respect for the environment and for social and safety standards; reinforce the rule of law, labour standards and human rights; involve trade unions and civil society; and boost regional integration.
Tackling global poverty
The S&Ds' top priority in the field of development co-operation is the fight against and the eradication of global poverty – especially at a time when the poorest in the world are paying the price for the financial and economic crisis. Therefore, we continue to be an ally to the world's poorest countries, which are under growing pressure to open up their markets to global business. We need a Europe with a global development vision, playing a leading role in this area and honouring its responsibilities and commitments.
Promoting global non-proliferation and disarmament
A world without weapons of mass destruction is a safer world for everyone. We therefore call for the EU to expand its role in global non-proliferation and disarmament as well as in international co-operation on arms control. We also want an open discussion about American tactical nuclear weapons on European soil. The concept of 'human security' has to be a cornerstone of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy, including a strong commitment to the principle of responsibility to protect. The S&Ds believe that in terms of crisis management, the EU is uniquely placed to contribute to global peace and security through its civilian and military crisis management tools and through actions such as development and humanitarian aid.
Corporate social responsibility worldwide
We reject double standards in external relations and profits being put above the safety and wellbeing of people in distant parts of the world. We want to see EU companies acting as responsibly as they would at home: ending child labour, paying a fair wage and respecting the environment. And we strongly support the concept of corporate social responsibility worldwide.