Europe has reached a critical tipping point. It faces either disintegration and collapse or a chance to achieve deeper integration and emerge much stronger from the current crisis. For the moment, the European project of integration is halted midstream: between the old collection of nation-states and full European political union. In the years to come, a multitude of scenarios and variations ranging from a disorderly collapse to a flamboyant “resurrection” are possible, many of which, with hindsight, will surprise us – possibly on the upside.
Even in the worst-case scenario, a “Europe” and institutions referred to as the “European Union” will remain. My own prudent prediction for Europe is that it will manage through the turmoil, with the euro intact, even if one or even two countries were to leave the eurozone. Based on the analysis laid out in this book, my firm and optimistic belief is that, once the crisis subsides, which may take up to a decade, Europe will regain its momentum, propelled by a renewed sense of mission among politicians and policy-makers to keep this decades-long project on track and moving forward.
Despite the current uncertainty, two things remain beyond doubt: (1) this problem has no quick fix or easy solution, and (2) as the world’s largest economy by gross domestic product (GDP), whatever happens to the eurozone matters enormously to the rest of the world. Thus the European crisis will, to a greater or lesser extent, dominate global issues for many years to come.
Within Europe, opinion-shapers and policy-makers are deeply divided about the future of the continent, but outside Europe – in the United States and Asia in particular – the general consensus is that the euro will collapse and that Europe will “disintegrate”, although what this means remains vague. Those who embrace these predictions are generally unaware of how the euro came to be created and the reasons why the currency was devised. Among the media in particular, there is a streak of pessimism that is based on a lack of information and appreciation of history, as well as a troubling fixation with the sensational and the deepest downside of this unfortunate situation.
In his new book, The Re-emergence of Europe, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab examines the events that have led to Europe’s current challenging political and financial climate. By looking at potential solutions through social, political and economic lenses, the book suggests likely outcomes to what Europe will look like in the future.