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May they enjoy it while it lasts

Posted by Richard Wednesday, March 07, 2007 ,

When you think of the miles of extruded verbal material produced by the "colleagues", extolling the virtues of their wonderful European "project", every now and again it is so nice to see a report which tells you, in no uncertain terms quite what a load of baloney it really is.

Courtesy of Tobias Buck, the Financial Times reporter in Brussels, we get precisely that, a report from Eurochambres, the pan-European business lobby, which tells us that the EU is still losing ground vis-à-vis its global competitors and that its economic development is only now reaching the level achieved by the US more than two decades ago.

The US, we are told, reached the EU's current level of gross domestic product per capita in 1985, the EU's employment rate and level of investment in research and development were reached by the US in 1978, and its level of productivity (expressed in GDP per employed) was reached by the US in 1989.

Furthermore, compared with the data in the first report published by Eurochambres two years ago, the time differentials have widened. The most drastic example is in R&D spending, where it has expanded from 23 to 28 years.

Some of this can be explained by EU enlargement in 2004, when ten less developed countries joined the EU, but it also reflects the fact that the US has extended its lead over Europe in many categories, says the Eurochambre report.

So huge is the gap that it concludes that: "Europe would need to register monstrous yearly performances to reach the current US levels by 2010," with an annual growth rate of more than 8 percent per year, just to equalise GDP per capita. Since this is not likely to happen – cannot happen - the study warns that the EU is progressing at an insufficient pace to really compete on the world stage."

The really crazy thing, though is we did not really need the Eurochambre report to tell us this – although it does help. The European experiment has long been failing, and it has been obvious to all those who have charted its progress for some long time.

In virtually every other field of human endeavour, the project also fails, so it is only through a sustained diet of self-deception that anyone associated with it can pretend that it has any merit. Even the Emperor has given up and gone to live in a nudist colony.

But there you go. We live in strange times, when nothing seems to be real any more, and nothing has much meaning. Thus it is, perhaps, we will see another Eurochambre report in a couple of years, and it will mark an even further decline. What it cannot and will not predict, however, is when the bubble will burst and reality will come sweeping in. But surely some time, this must happen.

Until then, self-deception rules OK. May the "colleagues" enjoy it while it lasts.

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