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Do Europeans Care More About Foreign Affairs Than Americans Do?

Question: Do Europeans care more about foreign affairs than Americans do?

Philippe Cayla:  Yes, in fact it is a situation in the U.S. which is very similar to the one in the U.K.  You are islands as well, and as far as I know here in the U.S. only 10 percent of people have a passport, if it is correct.  It's a figure I have in mind.  In the U.K. maybe a bit more, but the fact you are in an island in some way, and you can't, well... mentally give... isolation and... of no need of knowing what the others are doing.

Of course, in Europe—in the continental Europe—because of history people have fought so much together in the past that... now they are in peace, but they have a tradition of "need to know" in some sense, which is higher.  But to be frank with you, it's not necessarily the case in reality.  I mean, do the French know the Germans?  And do the Germans know the French?  I'm not so sure.  Each of them, they have a conscience that they should know better the other party, but in reality every nation is still living inside its borders.  And there is, in each country, there is some kind of upper class of maybe 10 percent of the population, which for business reasons or for personal curiosity, travels a lot and wants to know better what is the situation abroad, but it's a limited slice of the society.

For the news channel... the news channel is...  themselves are niche channels in each country, you never go beyond one percent of audience rating.  For an international channel, it is niche of a niche, so we never go beyond 0.1 or 0.2 percent.  It's true as well for CNN International and BBC World.  So it's really an elite which wants to enlarge their understanding of the outside world.  So I'm not surprised by the U.S. situation.  It's maybe your own fault in the U.S. because you are... you feel protected for your particular geographic situation from the rest of the world.  But it is a situation which is basically in the genes of every particular nation.

Question: What will Europe’s place in the world be in 2025?

Philippe Cayla:  In 20, 25 years, it will be an aging continent.  First of all, the average age will increase from maybe... the average is I think 40 years now in Europe, and it will increase to 50.  So it will be a continent of seniors.  Nevertheless, there will be some birth and some youngsters, but the main problem with that is to have a civilization which is aging with people in good hands, by the way.  You know, I'm over 50, and I'm still in good health.  I think it will be the case in the future people are aging but keeping able to do things.  So what kind of things are they going to do?  Probably more social things.  They are not going to invent new things, but probably to manage the society as it is. They will probably increase their free time to travel, to increase understanding.  Is the standard of living going to grow or decrease?  That's debatable.  I don't know.  Maybe it will be stable or decrease a little, standard of living, because other countries, other continents, will move up.

What I hope is that it will keep being a peaceful area for the time being.  Europe is peaceful, and that's the main asset we have.  After so many wars and so many centuries, now Europe is a peaceful continent, so it will be probably a peaceful continent with always some difficulties to make up this European government that you... That is not the end of the story.  So the governance of Europe will probably improve in the next couple of years., and the European standard of living will be more stable, and that all people... I hope that Europe will be able to defend themselves from the... in case of not conflict, but in case of tough developments in the neighboring... the neighborhood of Europe.  So the main question for Europe is "What will occur in the Middle East? In Russia?  Will it be stable, or will it be a dangerous area?"  That's the question for the Europe of the future.

I think Europe has to make up it's own defense, which is not well-organized.  I don't know if you know, but Europe is, after the U.S., the continent which spends the most for  military.  We spend... in fact, the European spending for the military is 20 percent of the world spend.  U.S. represents 50 percent, and Europe comes second with 20 percent.  But this money is very much wasted with... nationally it's not well organized at the European level, so I think it should be better organized in order to secure the safety of Europeans in the future.

Recorded June 22, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

Because of the continent's violent history, Europeans think they should know about each other. But in reality every nation is still living inside its borders.

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