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

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

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

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

Recorded on April 22, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen