Monday, July 12, 2010

The Economist: future of Europe and the EU

Worthwhile read from the latest issue of The Economist on the future of Europe and the EU.

It is too soon to write off the EU. It remains the world’s largest trading block. At its best, the European project is remarkably liberal: built around a single market of 27 rich and poor countries, its internal borders are far more porous to goods, capital and labour than any comparable trading area. It is an ambitious attempt to blunt the sharpest edges of globalisation, and make capitalism benign.

The problem is that the “European social model” has become, too often, a synonym for a very expensive way of doing things. It has also become an end in itself, with some EU leaders calling for Europe to grow purely in order to maintain its social-welfare systems. That is a pretty depressing call to arms: become more dynamic so Europe can still afford old-age pensions and unemployment benefits.

Europe is in desperate need of good ideas and leadership. Too many EU leaders have tried to secure voter consent for bailing out weak links like Greece by murmuring darkly about “Anglo-Saxon” conspiracies to destroy the euro, and presenting bail-out mechanisms as a way to impose the will of the state over “speculators”. Imaginary enemies are a desperate ruse to provide the union with coherence..."

As you read on, you'll note the story's warning about the shadow of corporatism, or "crony capitalism", hovering over Europe. Americans might do well to take note here and think about how this same cloud darkens our own future.

Lots more in the full article link above. Be sure to check out the interactive graphics on the EU nations' economies; educational for those of us in North America and outside the Continent.