Europe, the awakened giant

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IN a world of conflicting interests it is hardly surprising that we are bewildered by contradictory information. Nations opposed to the euro-zone, such as Britain and the United States, are desperate to talk up their own currencies: Being economical with the truth by talking down their rivals helps.

Leaving opinions aside there are some facts that are undeniable and which should make us Europeans more confident about our place in the world. A quiet revolution has been taking place. The European Union of 27 member nations is now the largest and wealthiest trading bloc in the world.

Its population is in excess of half a billion people and the EU makes up nearly a third of the world’s economy. This is larger than the combined economies of the U.S and Peoples Republic of China.

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Europe has more Fortune 500 companies than the United States, China or Japan. Airbus manufactures more airliners than does Boeing. More than twice as many people use the euro as use the U.S. dollar. The dollar is losing out to the euro as diverse nations put their money on Europe’s less riskier currency.

 

Good Health To You

Do we as European citizens get value for money? Although the EU states spend far less on healthcare than does the United States it is, according to the World Health Organisation, the world’s best. The healthcare system in America is rated 37th.

Those concerned at the ecological price of progress can take heart from the fact that Europe leads in adapting to the needs of climate change and introducing earth-friendly energy technologies. This has the added bonus of creating thousands of jobs. Europe is twice as energy efficient as is the U.S. for roughly the same standard of living.

Since 2003 it is not China but Germany that has led the world in export sales; or at least it is a tie. Ironically it is the strength of the euro, assisted by German production that gave China a slight advantage. Sooner or later the yuan will have to be re-valued; this will further boost the German economy. Germans enjoy six weeks of mandatory holidays each year. They get free university education, and nursing care.

 

More For Less

Using America as a yardstick and why not for we have for too long been mesmerised by its perceived supremacy, the EU is a far better workshop. The nation that took ‘the sweepings of Europe’ is in a jobs meltdown. Those Americans fortunate enough to be in work enjoy much less free time than do Europeans. Each year Americans work the equivalent of nine extra 40-hour weeks more than the Germans do, yet they produce less.

The noted author, economist and worldview commentator, Harvard educated Thomas Geoghegan, points out that countries like Britain, Spain and Greece, that slavishly adopt the American model perform worst. Countries like Germany, which do their own thing, are powering ahead. The Germans are simply better at managing their financial system and marrying it to production.

 

The Best Of Both Worlds

EU critics are great cherry pickers and focus on the economic woes of a few EU member states such as Greece. Should we really have sleepless nights over a nation that represents only 2 percent of the European Union’s Gross Domestic Product?

Whilst the U.S. (and UK) outsourced its manufacturing base Germany kept theirs at home. A smart move: Their sales to China underpin the Peoples Republic’s exports to the United States; which nation is now in their debt. In this war it was the Americans who lost. Germany’s success has led them to win the economic war of the worlds.

By Mike Walsh

 


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