Will the E.U. Surpass the U.S.?

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger is the associate professor and director of the Information & Innovation Policy Research Center at the LKY School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. His research focuses on the role of information in a networked economy, especially as it pertains organizations and society's ability to innovate. He is also an expert on the European Union. He has also published seven books and over a hundred articles and book chapters.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Will the European Union emerge as a global superpower to rival the U.S. in the next century?

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger: I think the European Union is superbly positioned to become a major player in the 21st century.  And it has done quite well.  The common currency, the centralization, necessary centralization, coordination through European law, European courts have done a great deal of good to the continent that was divided so long.  I think Europe faces two fundamental challenges that are very hard to overcome.  The first challenge is the demographic challenge.  A graying continent.  Europe is graying much faster than the United States is.  And so, Europe has to deal with that problem.  That means that not only there are more people who want to retire and get a state pension, that means that every year you have about 2 million people that are missing in the workforce because they retire and you need to replenish them.  Two million.  That means 2 million immigrants from somewhere.  There isn’t a country close to Europe large enough to supply two million immigrants a year, let alone the question of cohesion of integrating these people in to the European culture.  So, Europe faces a huge challenge, much more so than the United States. 

The other challenge of course is, and that’s the beauty of the United States, the beauty of the United States is that it pushes itself to the brink, but it never falls off.  Once it’s at the brink, even extremely close, it then comes back.  And it retains its unique spirit of entrepreneurship and innovativeness.  Europe needs to begin to harness that and begin to believe in its own ability to be entrepreneurial, creative, and innovative and to believe in itself.  So far, it hasn’t done that, it’s still always eying towards the United States.  I think a little bit more self-confidence would do it good.

Recorded on April 22, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen


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