Unity in Europe has unfortunately become a scarce commodity. The financial crisis, the gap between North and South, and differences between East and West are standing in the way of a united Europe. Today’s world is dominated by short-term thinking, and focusing on our own backyards. 'Power House Europe’ is now the sick man of the world.
What is the best way forward? The usual economic drivers of finance, ICT and telecom have all been hit hard. There are, however, some signs of revitalization in traditional manufacturing industry, although primarily in the form of creativity, flexibility and a purely international focus. Europe is also promoting knowledge-intensive developments and structural R&D, mainly through smart deployment of young technology talents in multinational teams. But Europe is also ageing rapidly. Migrants from Eastern Europe, India and China will soon be our new intelligence workers. EU politicians, however, remain largely stuck in their ways, making it very difficult for new entrants. Many member states, for example, do not allow double nationality, while camera surveillance at national borders is common.
What we need is to take a mental and maybe even physical leap out of our silos. To open up and create a new Europe, with new forms of creative partnership. Information technology is creating new opportunities for us to live and work together, with 3D printers creating instant production 'at the source’. Unique forms of collaboration will break open the traditional bastions in science and industry.
We are currently going through a period of social and economic transformation. And slowly but surely bidding farewell to the established order. From now on, metropolitan hubs, not countries, will decide on the direction of the economy. And groups of individuals, not institutions, will steer developments and determine the ‘new frontiers'.
It is now time to abolish the silos and establish new relationships and new values. That is how I see the transformation currently facing us in Europe. And it is up to Europe to retake control of its future by accelerating this transformation, even as its population ages.
Harry Smorenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an independent strategist and columnist, and the founder and chairman of www.worldpensionsummit.com and www.nieuwenormwerken.nl.