Monday, September 28, 2009

How many Europeans want to be ... EUropeans?

I wrote this analysis on December 15, 2006. How relevant is it today? You decide!

How many Europeans want to be ... EUropeans?

When I was at business school, in 1990, I asked my HR professor what a “Euromanager” was (this was 3 years before the momentous start of the EU's “Single Market”. According to my professor, a Euromanager is a manager who has worked in at least 2 different European countries. Someone who travels a lot for business around Europe is not a Euromanager, stressed my professor, and I agree.

So, then what is a “EUropean”?

By comparison, an American is born in one US state, goes to college in another, goes to graduate school in another, gets his/her first job in another, and so on! But then of course that is “America” and Europe, the EU and many Europeans do not want to be Americans! So ... what?

Certainly, a European is not someone who has traveled to many European countries on business or pleasure! That is rather a “Eurotourist” or a “Eurotraveler”.

I think that a European is someone who has “lived” for a certain – significant period of time in at least two European countries. And a EUropean someone who has done the equivalent in at least 2 EU member states!

Having said that, how many of the EU's 450,000,000 (*) million citizens fall under this umbrella-definition? I have no statistics handy, but I suspect that the share of the whole is quite small, very, very small! And that is a problem!

How many European feel like or want to live in a country other than their native one? What practical problems do they face? Is mobility within the EU “easy” for those who wish to indulge in it? I think not. Not without a common social security and a common taxation regime!

Which leads this discussion to a “Catch 22” or, rather, a “dead end”! How many of the current 25 (*) EU member states would be willing to harmonize and unite their taxation and social security regimes? I do not even try to venture a guess!

So where are those Europeans? In the future, it seems!

(*) Now, Sept. 28, 2009, the EU has 27 member of course! And almost half a billion inhabitants.

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