I wrote this analysis on June 29, 2005, a few days before the UK Presidency of the EU. How relevant is it 4+ years later? IMO even more than in 2005!
Towards a more "confident" or a more "rational" EU?
Europeans like to compete, in stadiums. Americans seem to like to compete in .. everything!
Is that truth or myth?
Maybe Europeans do not like to mix business/work and pleasure? In other words, the European business and work systemics and traditions are not centered around pleasure, but around making a living. Maybe Europeans work to live and not live to work!
Assuming the above line of reasoning is valid, then, what will it take for Europe to be more "competitive"?
Or, to challenge the fundamentals of current thinking even deeper, are the fundamental assumptions/notions about "competiveness" too American or too global to be adopted by Europeans?
Is there a "European" alternative concept of "competitiveness"?
Is "competitiveness" a marketable or popular notion? Or is it a technocratic or economic notion, which cannot, by definition, "excite" or "motivate" European employees, businessmen/women and self-employed persons?
To be more "competitive", in the dominant notion of the term, what can be the motivating factor in Europe? Fear, threat, insecurity, expectation of profit, expectation of more safety, confidence, or more "fun"?
Do policy makers and Mr. Blair really expect Europeans to mix business, work, money, the livelihood of their own and their families, with "pleasure"? How "confident" is that?
For Europeans to assume more risks, to become more "entrepreneurial" in the marketplaces for products, services and jobs/work, do they need to be motivated by:
a) fear/insecurity, or
b) a more "competitive" mentality, or
c) more confidence, or
d) more risk coverage?
In other words, to become more "entrepreneurial", as Mr. Blair suggested in his speech in front of the European Parliament last Thursday (June 23, 2005), do Europeans need more confidence, more economic liberalism or more health and income guarantees (rather than less)?
A sports case study: When a professional football player, married with children, enters the field to play the game he (or she) so enjoys, does having adequate insurance that if he breaks his/her legs (and has to quit the sport), he/she and his/her family will receive enough financial compensation to live the rest of their lives, help him/her "compete" more and harder? Work and business analogy?
Europeans may, indeed, not like to "compete" in business and in work. Because, maybe, I argue, they take the "game" of business and work (too) seriously. Maybe because they are "rational" and risk adverse "investors", for themselves and their families. Who can blame them? For what? Is confidence the driving force in rational "investing"? Or hedging and risk coverage?
Maybe Europeans, especially moderate ones (the ones Mr. Blair targets his words to), have, simply, not learned to "invest" their lives in "competition"! Maybe they are too moderate (or too liberal) to be "competitive" in the business and work lives?
June 29, 2005