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Global Marshall Plan -
a planetary contract

by Dunja M¸ller and Dr. Michael Stˆger

An interview with Professor Franz J. Radermacher about how a Global Marshall Plan can eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, as well as create environmental sustainability and international security.


The Initiative for a Global Marshall Plan (GMP) was launched in October 2003. Since then its basic concepts for global economic justice and sustainable world development have gained practical support from scores of NGOs, the business sector and society. The Global Marshall Plan is a pragmatic scheme to finance and implement the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring environmental sustainability, achieving universal primary education) along with the long-term perspective of an eco-social market economy as a global political framework. Such a “design of globalization” depends on the willingness of wealthier countries to co-finance development. One of the initiators of the Global Marshall Plan Initiative and prize winner in 2004 of the Planetary Consciousness Award of the Club of Budapest, is Professor Franz J. Radermacher. Dunja M¸ller and Dr Michael Stˆger interviewed him for Share International.


Share International: For many years you have been engaged in various committees for sustainable and just distribution of the world’s resources. The “Global Marshall Plan Initiative” has been in existence for several years now. What is the central aim?

What is the Global Marshall Plan?

The Global Marshall Plan aims at a “World in Balance”. To achieve this we need a better design of globalization and the global economic processes – a worldwide Eco-Social Market Economy. This is a matter of an improved global structural framework, sustainable development, the eradication of poverty, environmental protection and equity, altogether resulting in a new global ‘economic miracle.’

Professor Franz Radermacher: The Global Marshall Plan is a long-term plan for a just world, possibly based on the European model, perhaps best described as an “Eco-Social Market Economy”. The Millennium Development Goals are an intermediary step. All the nations of the world and all the large international organizations, like the World Trade Organization  (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have reached an agreement on these goals. The problem is that, as so often on the world stage, great plans are formulated and signed, and then nothing happens, because funds are limited and the priorities of the rich nations are completely different. At present the USA is marching across the globe shouting “homeland security” so the money that is needed for international development flows into “homeland security” instead. We should not be surprised that our planet is unsafe while basic problems are not being tackled. We need a worldwide coalition, which demands the implementation of the Millennium Goals.


SI: Can an Eco-Social Market Economy, as a concept for our planet, solve the truly burning issues facing humanity?

FR: It is my personal conviction that the only solution for the world’s problems is an Eco-Social Market Economy – the only peaceful solution based on consensus. There is a possible second solution, which is not peaceful and is not based on consensus – a resource-dictated system, in which the rich part of the planet forces a ‘solution’ on the poorer part through the use of incredible power, militarily as well as information-based, so that the poorer world is denied access to essential resources. Massive resistance could be expected which might express itself in [acts of] “terror”. This is the problem of resistance to a solution that is experienced as a tremendous injustice.

The truly successful countries are those that allow the benefits of capital yet also use the other primacy, that of politics, to set conditions for the market – to protect the environment, to provide education for all, which then ensures a high level of productivity. Open societies and correct democracy would be established which would respect cultural differences and promote peaceful communities of diverse cultures, and not force cultures into conflict with each other in hate and war. The provision of such conditions for an economy is the core of the Eco-Social Market Economy.


SI: You also quote the European Union (EU) enlargement process as a model that one could transfer to the Developing nations, based on ‘co-financing’ and ‘standards’. Which standards do you mean?

FR: Standards to protect the environment and resources and social values; standards for a balance between cultures. The greatest difficulty with international agreements is their actual implementation, especially on an international level. For instance, for the environment we have the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP); for social and work-related issues we have the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which forbids child labour, passes resolutions governing unions and equal pay – all of which are not legally binding. Cultural questions are dealt with by UNESCO which works for the right to cultural diversity and independence. Yet all these organizations, which cannot apply sanctions, often find themselves in opposition to the WTO and the IMF which can apply sanctions.

The WTO regulates global trade but somehow allows the sale of goods produced by child labour. ILO guidelines do not apply to the WTO and refusal to import such goods could result in a hearing in the WTO court and heavy fines. Similar situations occur with regard to the environment. Environmental treaties are signed but it doesn’t stop the USA from shipping large amounts of electronic waste to poor countries – and this is called ‘global recycling’. The core of the problem is this: as in any well-functioning country, the global world economy must take away from where the most wealth is, in order to feed, educate and develop the poor world. As long as the rich world fails to do this we will have the conditions that we have today, namely exploitation and destruction.


SI: Does the GMP-initiative have a practical approach?

FR: We see the need to link existing institutions together. The poor nations have always demanded this coupling – on condition that the wealthy nations help by co-financing projects. The Americans and the Europeans demand it at every WTO conference yet never want to hear about co-financing. What we are proposing is the ‘big deal’ that has its beginnings with the WTO. We need the agreement of the WTO to ensure that at least some standards set by the ILO, UNEP and UNESCO are made compulsory for future world trade. This is predicated on co-financing. That is the deal: co-financing [by wealthy countries] on the one hand matched, on the other hand, by efforts to establish and maintain fair standards.


SI: There are already many initiatives working towards sustainability and justice. The GMP appears to include many of these ideas. How did you manage to get so many representatives on board?

FR: Basically this is not difficult as we are working with one reality. When different groups with different points of view tackle world problems they are none the less dealing with the same issues. This has a co-ordinating or synthesizing effect. One reaches the conclusion that “the children must go to school”, the other says “we have a population problem”, or another: “we need fair trade”, or “we must protect the environment” – each is correct. From my experience, most committed people are right in some way. The art is to develop a world model where each and every one of these concerns finds a suitable place.


SI: One of the biggest challenges seems to be the tremendous power of the transnational financial markets; how can the ideas of the GMP impact on these areas?

FR: The international financial markets have an unbelievable power and only a small group of insiders with a lot of money and influence can do business with them. Obviously, this is certainly the hardest part. Where is there hope? It has been shown that these markets have produced massive failures. Many people who previously believed in the collective intelligence of these markets have now become wary. We have to start a process to show the world that the majority of people are not in favour of ‘market fundamentalism’.


SI: The GMP initiative seems to be European. How do you see the relationship between Europe and the US in this global process?

FR: The GMP initiative is not only a European initiative; we also call it “A Planetary Contract”. An important reference for us is the “Global Society Dialogue”.  In this group we have representatives from all parts of the world: Prince El Hassan (uncle of the King of Jordan), and people like the director of the ‘Club of Rome’ and co-founder of the ‘Parliament of Cultures’. We do not see this as a Western initiative. Reference to the ‘Marshall Plan’ connects our aims with a very positive chapter from the past.

The GMP initiative is a European initiative in the sense that the EU could act as the primer for it. Change will only happen when the powerful nations make a move. For this reason, in the context of the Iraq war, it was very important that the German Chancellor and the French President said “No”. This axis was priceless because it showed opposition – not everyone agreed [with the invasion of Iraq]. Only in this way can the international civilian community exert considerable influence. Now we need an established power –  someone who has the courage to stand up against the market fundamentalist credo and who declares that market fundamentalism makes the world poor and creates hate and terror. The ‘market’ today is like a mega-philosophy, a religion, anchored worldwide, and criticism of it is taboo. The power that could counter it is the EU, since it is economically strong, and anchored in the social market economy relatively well.


SI: In the music video you produced in 2003, The Globalization Saga, one sees large crowds of people on the streets loudly demanding change. Do you believe in the power of the people?

FR: It is important for me that people go out onto the streets as you saw in the video ‘We are the world’s people’, but the next line [in the video] is much more important: “The present global order is a form of war”. As far as I am concerned, the way the world is ruled at present, if one considers it at a deeper spiritual level, is almost a crime. It is a legalized form of terror and exploitation. The people protest as a reaction against a false globalization. I would say that the reforming of globalization is our greatest challenge. Who can form it? It must go from top-down and from bottom-up and it must happen as a triangle of politics, large companies and the people. A most important factor, for example, is customers putting pressure on companies in rich countries so that they trade and behave correctly in developing countries.

Demonstrations are important because they signal that something is fundamentally wrong. Only when we, as civilians, prepare the field along with the NGOs, can politics act. Each individual can change a great deal – discuss these ideas in meetings, in the market place, hold or organize lectures, distribute brochures, help financially – there is an endless amount to be done. Ultimately we need a grass roots movement and in the end individuals will have to bring it about. It must take place in the villages and in this process all of us can develop.

References: Franz Josef Radermacher: Balance or Destruction, Eco-Social Forum Europe, Vienna 2002. Video: The Globalization Saga, 2003.

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From the April 2007 issue of Share International magazine

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005