Originally published on May 06, 2014.
4 out of 5 stars...
This book makes a pretty good case for the challenges Europe faces in the coming years as it recovers from the 2008 financial crash and tackles what the EU is and can be, and the future of the Euro.
The author maintains that great creativity must be used as the recovery is slow and it can't just rely on some normal course of events to handle the job.
He actually wants Europe to look to the US for direction, as our economy is currently the best in the world and we've confronted immigration and done pretty well, for example.
Some points from the book:
1. Europe is no longer mighty, but still must face some internal differences. Most countries have mounted up enormous debt and the welfare state approach, which has existed for years, can't stay that way because governments can't afford to do so without major changes, like with pensions, using a more defined contribution approach as the US does. The author describes such an eventuality as a social investment state - embrace opportunity and risk - flexicurity.
2. The three main EU institutions are the Commission, Council and Parliament. EU1 has evolved into EU2, where rule, so to speak, is decided, but that's the problem - no voting by all EU people, just basically out of sight, with basically France and Germany's leaders making the decisions.
3. Climate change is big, but the EU is mixed up. It should evolve into renewable energy like getting off coal first, since that is the worst pollutant, and even advance more into fracking as the US is doing, since natural gas can replace coal. The author sees coal as worse than nuclear.
4. The IMF has turned into a big player, also the ECB. But, unlike the US, there is no EU bond like US Treasuries.
5. The author thinks an economic federalism has to occur, call it EU3. Each state must have some voice. It could take up to ten years.
6. English should be made the official EU language, with everyone speaking/writing both English and their native country's language.
7. The author talks about a representative democracy, but with more visibility, a monitory democracy, maybe incorporating advances in social media... a global village. Embrace a re-industrialization like the US - 3D printing, etc.
8. Austerity is bad, but still reform is necessary in most states.
9. Smart growth is needed - reform education, innovation, R&D, information and communication technologies.
10. Take action on tax havens and tax avoidance. Income inequality is a problem.
11. Interculturism must replace multiculturalism in a globalized world - accepting people as different, not expecting assimilation.
12. The author basically agrees that China is more democratic than the US - the US being a showbiz democracy, more about showmanship than leadership, while China has deep discussions before agreeing on a 5-year plan.
13. The EU tried to be in the forefront of climate change, wanting to establish a carbon tax and have a trading system, but it ran into all kinds of problems, with any reduction of emissions mostly due to the recession. CA has had more success with such a trading system. Obama met with major nations and at least came up with an informal agreement, where the dysfunctional EU was essentially left out. So, basically the world has done nothing to reduce emissions, while we have also entered an anthropocene age, where humans have influenced nature everywhere. Conservation is no longer relevant, must use artificial means like biotechnology to recreate what has been lost. Again, the EU is especially dependent on more creatively doing things, rather than looking to the past.
14. As for energy, the EU is messed up. Coal is the worst, and reducing nuclear energy just means greater use of coal, plus natural gas is best until renewables dominate, but the EU lags the US in fracking knowledge.
Anyway, the book is very good in showing how Europe is facing a critical time where it faces many challenges while not very united as needed, so it must embark on more creativity to solve the problems, hence even more important to look to the US, which does lead in creativity even with its dysfunctional government.