Roger Bootle: European politicians must embrace competition or face slide into obscurity
Comment of the Day

May 19 2014

Commentary by David Fuller

Roger Bootle: European politicians must embrace competition or face slide into obscurity

Here is the conclusion from this topical column published by the Daily Telegraph:

Indeed, it is striking that the EU project has been driven and run disproportionately by people who have been trained as, or who have practised as, lawyers. The law is of course about a set of rules whereas business is about taking advantage of opportunities. It is scarce wonder that the whole culture of the European Union has become so anti-enterprise.

The third influence from the EU comes from its smothering of the natural competition between nation states and governments. We are used to the idea that competition between companies is essential to prevent the evils of monopoly but something similar is true of government.

Not only are governments often wildly incompetent but they have a natural tendency to seize ever-increasing proportions of a country’s GDP – unless suitably constrained.

What Europe needs is competition between governments over economic policy, with clear and evident results in differential economic performance. By contrast, what the EU stands for is monopoly government – by the elites, for the elites.

It is very striking that Europe’s golden age, when European countries bestrode the world and European influence was at its height, was an era of competition between European nation states.

Admittedly, at times this competition went too far and spilled over into war – which is something that we most assuredly must avoid now. But just as European countries now compete in the Eurovision song contest and in football without going to war so they should be able to compete over effective governance.

Something has got to change. Europe isn’t working. If we go on like this, Europe’s influence in the world will fade into insignificance and so many of the wonderful aspects of European culture will be under threat. We need to turn Europe into a hub of economic success. To do that we will need different people, different ideas and different institutions.

David Fuller's view

Everyone within my extended family in the UK loves European culture but none of us would attempt to develop a career on the Continent.  Instead, we meet plenty of hard working and mostly successful Europeans, from all walks of life, who have come to London and other parts of the UK to pursue their careers. 

Following Europe’s severe economic slump, I would have thought that its governments would be doing more to encourage sustainable economic growth.  However, I do not see much evidence of that at present, although I would welcome feedback from subscribers on the Continent, who will be more familiar with the economic debate within their countries. 

Back to top

You need to be logged in to comment.

New members registration