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

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

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

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

Recorded on April 22, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

In order for Europe to pull ahead, it must overcome challenges of confidence and a graying demographic.

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