Thanks, Kenneth!

Kenneth Rogoff, economics professor at Harvard University apparently felt that Europe needed a pat on the back…

“Today, if you really want to get a rise out of top European policymakers and business leaders, don’t berate them about Europe’s well-known economic ills. Don’t mention the rigid labor markets, the aging population, or the weak state-run university systems. Instead, tell them that there is a one in three chance that the world’s leading economic superpower in 2050 will not be the United States or China, but Europe. They’ll stand and stare at you, waiting for the punch line.

The truth is that Europe’s economy is far from hopeless. First, the notion that European firms and workers are much less productive than those in the United States is simply uninformed. The main reason why Europe’s output per capita stands at only 70 percent of U.S. levels is that Europeans work less than Americans?a lot less. Europeans work fewer hours per week, take longer vacations, and retire earlier. When it comes to leisure, it is the Americans, Japanese, and even the Chinese who have plenty of catching up to do. And as they and others start ?consuming? more leisure over the next 50 years, Europe’s relative economic size will expand. Second, Europe still has a spectacularly well-educated and versatile work force, even if dubious labor legislation holds it back, particularly in Germany. Third, recent empirical studies have convincingly shown that strong political and legal institutions drive economic growth. Say what you want about Italian politicians and the EU’s new draft constitution, but European institutions remain models of honesty and transparency compared to those in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.”

His entire column for Foreign Policy is available online. Not that we haven’t talked about these issues here before, but it’s nice to hear it from someone like Mr Rogoff. On the other hand, I think Europe’s odds are far better than one-in-three.

Freedom of religion; freedom of speech.

Just saw this. A Swedish priest was sentenced to a month in jail for a sermon where he donounced homosexuality in fairly offensive terms, – said homosexuality had caused aids, but without calling for violence or anything like that.

This is so wrong. So very wrong. There’s little very little debate, little attention piaid to this.

I think the french anti-scarves/turbans/etc laws weren’t primarily about islamophobia, and that that issue is very much related to this one. Which brings us to another piece of depressing news:
Banning Muslim headscarves in state schools does not violate the freedom of religion and is a valid way to counter Islamic fundamentalism, the European Court of Human Rights says.

In what could be a precedent-setting decision, the Strasbourg-based court rejected appeals by a Turkish student who was barred from attending Istanbul University medical school because her headscarf violated the official dress code.

The court decision, which takes precedence over national court rulings, could help the French government face court cases it expects to be filed in September against a headscarf ban it plans to impose in state high schools.”

Barroso new EC head.

As you may have heard by now, Portuguese prime minister Jos? Manuel Dur?o Barroso will be the new president of the European commission. He’s a compromise candidate, after Verhofstadt, Patten and like a dozen others were rejected. Some say that’s bad, diminishing his authority, but really the only of his predecessors that weren’t a compromise was Prodi, and that went real well didn’t it?

Another national high level politician, not a commissioner as some had speculated and/or wished for. Prodi’s initial problems had a lot to do with a lack of knowledge of how things worked in Brussels, but Delors and Juncker, also without Brussels experience. didn’t have that problem IIRC, and Prodi were both mediocre for all of his term (Juncker too.)

He’s quite rightwing, a departure from a a quarter century of center-leftists, which will probably make a difference. But the EC is a collective, and the president is under a lot of other constraints, so don’t know how significant. But a deemphasizing of some parts of the agenda in favor of others, certainly.

Atlanticist, was at the Azores with Bush, Blair and Aznar. Has attracted a lot of commentary, but the president has little influence there. I think if anything it illustrates that the transatlantic relationsship is not that important a issue for the EU, and doesn’t drive conflicts. Americans persist in viewing Euro politics in in terms of who’s ‘pro-US’, ‘anti-US’. Am still glad it wasn’t Verhostadt.

CW is that he’s made a good job as PM. Budget rot, avoided the usual Eurozone deficit rot. (Actually it’s only the big countries.)

“Gradual federalist.” Not as ardent as Verhofstadt thankfully. I do want someone who represents his institution forcefully, though maybe not as succesfully as Delors.

“Tenacity, not charisma” says FT. Seems fine for this job. “Unbending reputation” says AP, ie consistently budget hawk and pro-Iraq war in the face of much opposition. Good I guess?

Will Barroso do a better job? Will he even take back some of the authority the EC has lost ocver the last decade? From what little i know, cautious optimism may be justified. But really, no idea. Prodi’s personal qualities that served him well as PM turned out to be the wrong ones for this job. Barroso is much less known than Prodi was then, so how would I know?

Re the last question the weakening of the commission is due to larger forces than Prodi and Juncker’s various failings, and Delors success was really mostly Kohl and Mitterand’s success, so you can argue the’yve gotten a bum rap, but I think they were fairly unimpressive regardless of that, so here’s hoping Barroso will be an improveement.


How many members will the European Union have by, say, the year 2020?

With the latest round of enlargement not yet two months old, the exertions of the constitutional debate still straining the dedicated Europeanists, and prospective members largely a collection of the poor, ill-governed and recently-at-war, it would be reckless indeed to speculate about the who and when of future enlargements.

That’s exactly what blogs are for.

Having said as far back as 1994 that the EU would probably admit formerly communist countries when at least one of them could be a net contributor to the budget (Slovenia), I’m feeling good about this particular type of recklessness.

Under the fold, the EU’s path to 39 members (40 if Serbia and Montenegro divorce), along with the first European Parliament elections that I expect their citizens to be able to vote in.
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Geological Politics

Is Europe prepared for a world where Chinese and Japanese competition for Russian resources is a key geopolitical question?

For months China and Japan have been locked in a diplomatic battle over access to the big oil fields in Siberia. Japan, which depends entirely on imported oil, is desperately lobbying Moscow for a 2,300-mile pipeline from Siberia to coastal Japan. But fast-growing China, now the world’s second-largest oil user, after the United States, sees Russian oil as vital for its own “energy security” and is pushing for a 1,400-mile pipeline south to Daqing.

Emphasis added to the original article. If I had to guess, I would think that the EU-25 uses more oil, and other petroleum products, than China. I’d probably have to flip a coin to decide if the enlarged EU uses more oil than the US; I think it’s very close. (If anyone can point me to good statistics on this subject, I’d be grateful.)

Given that the bulk of Russian gas now goes west to Europe, to heat homes and, to a lesser extent, generate electricity, what are the chances that when the Chinese convert coal-fired power plants to gas-fired, Russian gas might go east, to fuel the world’s fastest-growing large economy?

Is there a European approach to this sort of question? Should there be?

Euro 2004: close but no cigar?

it looks like Nick has beaten me by publishing his Euro 2004 thoughts first. But in a sense, this post begins where Nick ends his, with a look at the consequences of Europeanization, and Globalization, for the European, particularly the German, football.

As a reaction to the dissatisfactory results of a German team in yet another competition, the search for causes has now been extended from the sports section to the political and economic sections of many newspapers. For a reason: German Politicians of all brands have always believed their electoral fate to be inextricably intertwined with the successes of the Nationalmannschaft. ?The miracle of Bern? has probably been talked up a bit since 1954, but winning the world-championship after 1945 certainly became a, if not the, founding myth of German post war identity. Likewise, one could be tempted to identify similarities between the team?s current weakness and the generally gloomy German mood ? unfortunately, the three games played in Portugal did not become the cure against Weltschmerz, which the Economist is investigating this week.
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Is diversity the key to football success?

Euro 2004 seems determined to throw up a shock every day, with France becoming the latest ‘big’ side to be surprisingly eliminated after losing 1-0 to Greece last night. They join Italy, Spain, Germany and England in the club of pre-tournament favourites wondering just what went wrong. I can think of a couple of reasons that may help to explain just why this has been such a bad tournament for the big countries, similarly to the last World Cup, and why this might be the start of a new trend in world football, not just a short-term blip.
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A Little Greatness, Every Week

The editors at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung cobbled together a list of 50 great novels of the 20th century. With postwar German modesty, they don’t claim that it’s exhaustive, definitive or representative. Just 50. And great.

The newspaper’s publishing house has been bringing one out every week since mid-March, and they’ll finish the run next February. (By the way, if anyone among our readers can tell me how they make the economics work at EUR 4.90 for each hardback book, I’m keen to hear more.) They’ve used some wit in the schedule – their Joyce choice published the week of Bloomsday, the last selection, for deepest February, will be If on a Winter’s Night, a Traveller…

I see the edition’s distinctive design all over town. With only fourteen issued so far, it’s still possible to tell almost at a glance which book someone is reading. The Hotel New Hampshire? The Name of the Rose? The Unbearable Lightness of Being?
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