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.
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