Europe 2020: Competitive or Complacent?

In This Review

Europe 2020: Competitive or Complacent?
By Daniel S. Hamilton
Center for Transatlantic Relations, 2011
150 pp. $22.50

Hamilton has made something of a career of stating an obvious truth that most observers willfully ignore: Europe is the world’s largest economic power. In most respects, such as trade, investment, research, and development assistance, Europe dwarfs China and India and continues to surpass the United States. Yet the generally antigovernment bias of most economic analyses, the tendency to treat Europe as a set of small countries rather than as a whole, and salient events such as the recent euro crisis lead many to question whether the European model is sustainable. This data-rich volume evaluates Europe’s global competitive position and suggests ways to strengthen it. The advice is sensible: European policymakers should focus on services, knowledge-intensive sectors, and green technology and work collectively through the EU to liberalize markets, streamline regulations, and promote innovation. To be sure, the recommendations are somewhat technocratic. For example, liberalizing immigration laws, promoting intergenerational equity, and deregulating public services appear as economic objectives, not as contested social and political issues. Yet this optimistic prognosis is an important corrective to the prevailing pessimism.