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Does Europe Matter?

Posted on May 24, 2011 by Sandy Finlayson  |

I listened to an interesting interview with Henry Kissenger on the Today Programme on Saturday morning.

He has reached the ripe old age of 87 years but his intellect is as sharp as ever.

He is in Europe promoting his new book “On China”.  He clearly thinks that the big stories of the 21st century will be Chimerica and Chindia.  While he did not say so in so many words, he clearly did not think that Europe had a great role to play as these three great powers vie for superiority in the century that lies ahead.

Professor Carl Djurassi, the inventor of the oral contraceptive pill for women and the winner of the Edinburgh Medal at this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival, in his keynote address distinguished between paediatric nations and geriatric nations.  If we follow the logic of these great men, Europe is destined to become an increasingly geriatric continent with a gradually declining role in world affairs as the events of the 21st century unfold.

Is this a state of affairs which we should be willing to accept?  Or can we re-energise Europe and show that we remain competitive in an increasingly fast moving and competitive world.

Ratan Tata hit the headlines recently by complaining about the complacency of the UK’s managers compared to Indian managers who are “prepared to go the extra mile”.  We had a similar message from one of the speakers at our recent seminar on international trade.  He was experienced at sourcing manufactured products from China and other Asian countries and indicated that he could not get the same level of quality or customer service in this country.

If we wish to remain relevant we have much to do to rekindle what Ratan Tata described as the “wartime spirit”.  As he is now the largest manufacturing employer in the UK (yes, really! – he own Jaguar Land Rover and Corus, the steelmaker) we all ought to sit up and take notice!

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