Can Europe step up?

Dick SearleThe protracted and public shambles of the Euro Zone, its members and the Euro currency issue, these have all been marvels for our times. However, and as we stumble forward together it is clear that the current pantomime obscures something much deeper.

Europe’s population currently numbers some 7% of the global total. Europe, however, currently produces about 27% of the world’s total GDP. These comforting statistics have underpinned our European living standards and expectations for quite some time. Increasingly, however, the economic position will become much tougher to defend.

Believe it or not, the rest of the world is not idly standing by:  In many if not most areas European IP and technology is being cloned, bettered and surpassed on all other continents. The world’s economies from East to West are competing ever more intensely. The BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – are growing and gaining market share with every passing month. In response, US manufacturing is not lying down, neither is Japan.

What are we doing about this in Europe? What should Brussels be doing? As said, and sad to say, other matters occupy the stage. The ongoing fragility of the European Union is being exposed on a daily basis.

In a sense no blame can be cast since the Euro fault-lines were always present in the myths and ideas embedded in the starter charter. The EU activity, after all, is only programmed to run its course: A founding bureaucracy charged only with regulation, administration and wealth distribution will only continue to do more or less of that.

And right now it’s time now for much less of that. Much more is urgently needed for European wealth generation; renewed European competitiveness; innovation and value-added manufacturing.

European business and manufacturing can thrive. But everywhere you look indigenous industry and creativity is responsible for such success stories as may be: German manufacturing; Irish exporting; Central European start-ups; UK holding steady; these have all been generated at country-level, and despite Europe rather than because of it.

More than ever Europe needs to free up its businesses and member states to do better in this way; freeing manufacturing and freeing enterprise. Radical reform may be necessary – and may not be accommodated within current Brussels structures. But if European standards of living are to be maintained, then –  with or without Brussels –  this issue will be an inevitable priority for the Continent.

Many thanks again

Dick Searle