A Vision for Europe to Escape the Open Air Museum Scenario

What is the future for Europe in our fast evolving world? What will be the position of Europe from a geo-political and economic view by 2050? Being European from origin, I wonder how we will do economically in 40 years.


There are a number of developments here that make we worried about the future of Europe. Asians and Americans start to see Europe as a good place for an interesting holiday. That is OK if all the people who are living in this fantasy land have good quality of live, are happy and have the opportunities to develop.


But I am not sure if that all will go together. Young Chinese are seeing the US as a place to get the education, China as a place to innovate, work and make money and Europe as the place to bring their parents for a holiday with lots of photo opportunities.


I am not getting excited with this vision. What Europe stands for, its norms and values will be of much lesser importance in the world. Who cares about how the inhabitants of an open air museum really think. We do, but the rest doesn’t give a…


From a demographics point of view, Europe is in a down turn. In 40 years, there will be less people here, less young people, less productive people between 20 and 65 and more people having the age that in previous times they would have been retired. This is a given. It can only turn out different if we for one reason or another start to produce tomorrow lots of babies or we open the borders and let lots of people from Africa and Asia into Europe.


Note that the most ambitious, educated and entrepreneurial Asians and Africans don’t even want to come to Europe anymore. They go to the US or to the Asian and African growth markets.


To be able to maintain a standard of living and a certain wealth, economic growth is a necessity. A standstill when the rest of the world is growing doesn’t keep you where you are. It will set you back, every year a little further.


Thus in Europe we need a vision for how we will grow and develop. How we will innovate. How we will stay relevant. How we ensure that our norms and values and interests are listened to as well. Of course our growth has to take place in a way that is respectful for the environment and the limited natural resources. I also do not say that we need to have a vision for more and more material things. But an open air museum is also not an interesting option.

This is a long term topic for discussion and action. To be continued…

What is your first reaction to this? State from which continent you are...