Professor Bainbridge has an interesting deconstruction of the idea that the EU is the next global superpower based off of an argument by Timothy Garton Ash. He finds Ash’s arguments lacking, and the idea that European “soft power” will create a European superpower to be unsupported by the facts.
Europe is currently on the leading edge of a social, demographic, and fiscal crisis. European governments have established cushy social safety nets, but the aging European population and anemic European economy make them unsustainable over the long term. The rates of European economic growth can’t support the demands of an aging population. This demographic crisis would be bad enough alone, but when it’s added to the inflow of radicalized Muslims coming into Europe, it only gets worse. The massive rise in anti-Semitic violence in France, the murder of Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, and the deadly attacks in Madrid this March all are indicators of the growing tensions in Europe.
The EU is also a tax hell, in which everything and anything is subject to punitive taxes. The European labor market and labor laws mean that the act of hiring or firing an employee is so difficult that employment is largely stagnant. This is one of the main reasons why unemployment in Europe is nearly double that of the United States, and companies like Airbus survive only thanks to massive government subsidies, essentially making them de facto state-owned enterprises.
With European fertility rates dropping and the EU economy increasingly caught up in a web of its own red tape, the chances of Europe’s “soft power” amounting to much is slim to none. Europe badly needs an injection of new blood, and a new and more dynamic leadership that takes the unaccountable EU and reshapes the EU bureaucracy into something more accountable to the populace. However, the blindness and the hubris of the EU intelligentsia towards their own situation isn’t helping any. The EU is fiddling while Rome, Paris, Berlin, and Madrid burn, and by the time anyone starts taking their challenges seriously it may well be too late.