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Why did European countries become more economically advanced than non European countries?

Why did European countries become more economically advanced than non European countries?


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Barring a few places in the erstwhile USSR, for which communism and its fall had a major role to play, countries with a predominantly white population, collectively called "The West" are the most economically (and socially?) well to do ones in the modern world.

Going back a few centuries, it was the Europeans that populated the "new world". Why not people of other regions? Because Europeans had the most resources to do so? But some medieval Asian countries were rich too. Asian, African and South american countries were the ruled upon, not the rulers. Why were the Europeans the colonists, not these other countries? Even if they weren't, why couldn't they keep the invaders out effectively? These countries actually had a very rich and ancient history, with access to considerable engineering and tech for those times. Trade flourished too, think about the silk route and the extensive reach of the Indian subcontinent. But they still did not/do not thrive as much as the Europeans.

I know race had no part to play in this, but why the coincidence? Was it the climate? the geography? The religion? Invention of the steam engine and the following industrial boom? (But colonisation started before that era)


This is the question of modern world history. In fact it is a huge set of questions on which a lot has been written. The Wikipedia article on Great Divergence gives a pretty good summary of some important work on the topic. I won't try to cover everything in there, but I will elaborate on a couple of key points that come to mind based on the original question.

First, we should keep in mind that Europe c. 1450 was not an especially advanced area at all. With the Dark Ages were coming to an end, Europe was perhaps a flourishing civilization, but not the only one. To its east, the Ottoman Empire was at the height of its power and expanding in Europe's direction. (The relevance of the Ottoman-European rivalry to our question has been getting more attention thanks to a recent book, How The West Came To Rule.) It was basically out of desperation to get around the Ottomans that Portuguese sailors began to make some breakthroughs in navigation. This gave them increased maritime contact with Africa, but despite their relatively advanced weaponry and navigation skills, the Portugese were not immediately able to dominate or conquer most of the peoples they found there.

Second, as the question already begins to address, Europe's ascent in the following centuries would not have been possible without the colonization of the Americas. Arguably the most important consequence of European conquest of the Americas was the massive influx of silver from South American mines under Spanish control. This was a central factor in the price revolution that shaped Europe's commercial development, and also in the course of relations between Europe and China. Among the other key reasons that European contact with the Americas mattered so much, aside from the silver, was the triangular trade that came to encompass the Atlantic.


Without being bogged down by multiple stipulations in history I'll attempt to answer this as simply as possible. Most likely Europe advanced rapidly due to mercantilism and the free flow of ideas into Europe due to closer relationships with other cultures from trading. We borrowed the great ideas and inventions of the world then made them our own or developed them much further.


This question is discussed -though not succinctly- in Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence. It largely started with an idealized revival of Greek philosophy. But it wasn't an event but rather a multistep process.

The course to study is western Civilization, though I've heard that it's gone extinct.


Let's take the Non-Western countries of the Modern Age. Last I checked, there were some major imperial Powers who governed various parts of "The East" during this time; The Ottoman Empire, The Russian Tsarist/Romanov Empire, The Persian Savafid-(sp?) Empire, The Moghul Empire of the Indian subcontinent and the Japanese Empire of the Far East. If you examine the historical geography of Asia during the Modern era-(especially the Early Modern era), you will see that a sizable part of the continent was "dominated" by one of these empires for many centuries.

As for the West, the major imperial Powers during much of the Modern era, were Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain… (one could perhaps include the trading colonial powers of Venice and Genoa, Italy during this time as well).

So if you look at the historical geography of the Modern era, in particular, the Early Modern era, you will see that much of the world, was governed by imperial powers.

I think you would like to know as to why the Modern European West-(i.e. Great Britain, Northern Italy and the pre-unified Germanic lands), were culturally and intellectually "dominant" during this time period, when contrasted with their Eastern imperial counterparts and perhaps other European countries.

There is really no single answer to this question. As someone mentioned in the Comments section, Jared Dimond's "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" asks this very question and Professor Dimond's answer has much to do with the nature of physical and human Geography, and its relationship to World History. The Conservative Writer Thomas Sowell wrote a number of books and essays on this issue as well.

An answer MAY date back to the Northern Italian Renaissance which began around 1400. With the rise of the Northern Italian Renaissance, cities, such as Florence and Venice, were also very important trade cities with wealthy Patrons, such as the Medici family. The commercial, as well as the cultural wealth that distinguished The Northern Italian Renaissance from many of its contemporaries worldwide, may have also had a distinct geographic advantage. Remember that Northern Italy, is the historic (and contemporary) gateway to continental Europe-(or Northern and Western Europe). Northern Italy had fine Universities dating back to the Middle Ages, such as The University of Padua, the University of Pisa, as well as The University of Bologna. These Universities, along with other Northern Italian cultural institutions, revitalized the ideas and innovations of the Ancient West and incorporated such ideas and innovations into their own narrative and creativity. (The Polish Astronomer Nicholas Copernicus, taught at one of the above mentioned Northern Italian Universities and Galileo taught at The University of Padua).

But the Northern Italian Renaissance was not confined to Italy proper. Great ideas spread from this region into neighboring European regions. And while it is certainly true that the Modern European West produced brilliant minds, such as Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Newton, Hegel, as well as many others, each of them FOLLOWED the brilliant innovators of the Northern Italian Renaissance.

One could also look to Early Modern Germany as the birthplace of Modern Western ideas and inventions. Although the country of Germany proper would not come into being until 1870, various German speaking lands did have some cultural all-stars. Johannes Guttenberg of Mainz, Germany and his famed Printing Press which revolutionized Printing and Publishing within the European continent during the Early Modern Age. In the German town of Wittenberg, was the Theological Reformer Martin Luther and his Protestant Reformation, which may not have succeeded had it not been for Mr. Guttenberg's transformative invention. Both Guttenberg and Luther lived during the time of the Northern Italian Renaissance.

And of course there is the commercial explanation as to why the Modern West would "dominate" much of the world. The European imperial powers of Spain, Portugal, England, France and the Netherlands, were ALL… maritime powers. Portugal's, as well as France's backyard (or front yard), is the Atlantic Ocean. Spain has the Mediterranean to its East, the Straits of Gibraltar to its South-(pre-1800's) and the Atlantic to its West and North. These countries had significant geographical "head starts" when compared with other countries around the world, who were either landlocked or had very limited access to major waterways. The domination of global trade, via the oceans and seas, often provided maritime powers-(such as the above mentioned countries), with access to great wealth and power.

If you put all this together, you MAY be able to see as to why the Modern European West was (and still remains), the dominant power in the world for over 600 years. Again, there is no single or universally encompassing or catalyzing explanation as to why this was (and is still) the case; however it MAY offer AN explanation as to why this type of historical reality emerged over the past six centuries.


Europe and Africa: Decolonization or Dependency?

Courtesy Reuters

Fifteen years after most of Africa received its independence, Europe is still present and influential in the continent. The European presence has, however, shifted from overt and direct to more subtle forms. While military occupation and sovereign control over African territories have all but been eliminated, political influence, economic preponderance, and cultural conditioning remain. Britain and France, and with them the rest of the European Community, maintain a relatively high level of aid and investment, trade dominance, and a sizable flow of teachers, businessmen, statesmen, tourists and technical assistants. Perhaps most symbolically significant of all, the long-nurtured dream of an institutionalized Eur-African community was finally inaugurated on February 28, 1975, when the convention of trade and cooperation was signed at Lomé between the European Nine and the then-37 independent Black African states (plus nine islands and enclaves in the Caribbean and the Pacific).

Thus, Eur-African relations are a matter of continuity and change, but judgments of them vary considerably, according to the importance given to one or the other of these two elements. To some, the successor of colonialism is neocolonialism and dependency for others, what is taking place is gradual disengagement, and the multilateralization of ties to the developed nations. The first look askance at the continuing presence, comparing it with an ideal of total mastery of one's destiny to them the change seems trivial, or worse, insidious. The second emphasize actual changes, the moves toward independence, and see them as part of a continuing process. The best perspective obviously is the one that can encompass and provide an explanation for the largest number of facts.

The dependency approach is now widely used in analyzing Third World developmental problems. According to this school of thought the attainment of political sovereignty masks the reality of continued dependence on world economic structures, and calculations of power and interest within this dependency relationship explain underdevelopment. Impatient with the slow progress of African states toward development and the real difficulty for new nations in narrowing the gap that separates them from the industrial states, dependency analysts locate the source of the new nations' developmental problems not in these nations' own incapacities but in the constraints of international politics and economics. Basically, the metropolitan countries block African development by co-opting African leaders into an international social structure that serves the world capitalist economy. By training and conditioning the upper layer of African society into Western habits of consumption, reading, vacation, style, and other European values, the dominant politico-economic system removes the need for direct intervention and indirect colonial rule the more the new elites "develop," the more their expectations rise, the more they become programmed to look North, to think Western, and to alienate themselves from their national society, which is locked into its underdevelopment. Since mass development is such a monumental task in the best of conditions, and since it is even more difficult against the wishes and interests of the dominant capitalists, these alienated, Westernized elites are motivated to repress the spread of development in their society and thus to maintain themselves in power as a political class. The end result is that national development is impossible: European predominance is maintained by the co-opted elites, a neocolonial pact as firm as its colonial predecessor was in its time.

According to the decolonization theory, on the other hand, Eur-African (and other North-South) relationships are caught up in an evolutionary process, as various forms of bilateral, metropolitan influence are replaced with multilateral relations. In the process, political independence is only the first step, and the "last" step of complete independence is probably never attainable in an increasingly interdependent world. In this view, each layer of colonial influence is supported by the others, and as each is removed, it uncovers and exposes the next underlying one, rendering it vulnerable, untenable, and unnecessary. Thus, there is a natural progression to the removal of colonial influence: its speed can be varied by policy and effort, but the direction and evolution are inherent in the process and become extremely difficult to reverse. The specific order of the layers of influence to be peeled off may vary from country to country, depending on local conditions, but the most common is political (sovereignty), military, foreign population, economic and cultural. In this pattern, the transfer of sovereignty removes the need and justification for the stationing of metropolitan military forces the elimination of military bases removes the security for metropolitan settler and technical populations the reduction of the foreign population reduces the possibility of effective economic control and the diversification of economic relations brings in new cultural influences. Thus, decolonialization has its own logic, wherein each step creates pressures for the next and reduces the possibility of counteraction by retreating postcolonial forces.

This is not to say that colonial withdrawal is immediate, however, or that the former colonial powers are powerless in their retreat. As decolonization moves forward, it moves onto less certain ground, where the rights of the new nation are less clearly related to the simple equality of sovereignty and where its ability to replace former metropolitan sources is less sure. It must therefore pave its way with newly established prerogatives. It must also build up its own capabilities, for a state cannot thrive on rights alone as decolonization proceeds, the new state may eliminate elements that are actually useful to it in the short run in order to get rid of debilitating habits of reliance. For the progression to operate most efficiently, decolonizing states use the remaining elements of European presence to create the capabilities needed to replace that very presence, just as colonial rule was used by new nationalist elites to provide the training and resources that would enable them to remove it. The pace of that replacement depends on individual capabilities. Some types of European presence and influence may take longer to remove than others: evacuation of foreign troops is more rapidly attainable after independence than is the elimination of foreign technical assistants, and the takeover of foreign business is easier to achieve than the eradication of foreign culture. But deceleration in decolonization should not be confused with a frozen dependence. The pressure of other decolonizing states, as well as the logic of the process itself, works to keep up the momentum.

The two schools of thought are not, of course, without points of contact. The decolonization approach draws on dependency theory in analyzing how certain postcolonial relationships actually operate at present. But in interpreting the current interplay between Africa and Europe, dependency theory would seem to leave out too much, and to minimize rather important events.

To evaluate these perspectives one must examine the evolution of present conditions out of the past-before moving on toward the future. The development of economic relations is of central importance. It has been marked by a series of four major agreements on Africa made by the European Economic Community (EEC) at six-year intervals since 1957. The first, Part IV of the Treaty of Rome which instituted the EEC itself, was a reflection of then-existing colonial relations. By this instrument, African (and other) colonies of European states were joined in a free trade area with the entire six-state European region, so that African and European products found unimpeded access to each other's market. At the same time, European states without colonies of their own were involved in sharing a small part of France's (and Belgium's and Italy's) colonial burden by subscribing to a European Overseas Development Fund (FEDOM) providing $581 million in aid per year for the African colonies, although projects financed by this aid tended to be awarded to metropolitan contractors in the colonies.

Part IV of the Treaty of Rome was designed to share among the European Six, at least to some small extent, the burdens and benefits of the colonial pact, and to provide some limited benefits for the African colonies. Rather than an act of decolonization, it was a means of protecting colonial markets and assuring supplies of primary products for the Six instead of for the metropole alone, and of opening the colonies to greater trade and investment (with increased quantity presumably reinforced by higher quality born of somewhat increased competition). Economically, even if not politically or culturally, the arrangement began in a small way to dilute bilateral colonial ties through multilateralization.

Before the Treaty of Rome was three years old, all the French and Italian territories plus the Belgian Congo were granted independence. They felt it improper to remain subject to the provisions of an instrument negotiated by the metropole on their behalf, but they also felt that there were benefits to be gained by continuing what the Rome Treaty delicately called "special relationships." The European states shared these beliefs, but from two different perspectives. The French, Belgians, and to some extent the Italians, who all had interests in former colonies to protect, felt that these special relationships should be maintained young, fragile economies should not be thrown immediately into open competition in the world market. The Germans and Dutch, on the other hand, felt that such special relationships should be phased out not only should special economic ties with the extended metropole be terminated as rapidly as possible, but equal status should be accorded to other-hence competitive-African states with which the two countries, coincidentally, had much greater trade than with the Africans covered by the Treaty of Rome.

The next phase was a compromise, which maintained the special relationship but at a lower level of exclusive privilege than before. The first Yaoundé Convention, signed on July 20, 1963, converted the unilateral provisions of the Rome Treaty into a negotiated Association between the European Community and 18 individual African states, but a Declaration of Intentions, put forward by the Netherlands as an explicit quid pro quo for its signature, declared the Association or any other form of economic tie admissible under GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) to be open to any competing African state. At $730 million, the new European Development Fund (FED I) was 25 percent larger than the FEDOM, but it was almost 25 percent smaller than the combined total of the FEDOM and the now-abolished French price supports, and 60 percent smaller than the African original demand of $1.77 billion. Joint institutions notwithstanding, administration and execution of the FED was still largely in the hands of Europeans. Reciprocal preferences were granted by the two sets of partners but the Africans' demand for some sort of stabilization mechanism for tropical products' markets was denied meanwhile, the emphasis of the aid was shifted from infrastructure to production and diversification.

The years during which Yaoundé I was being negotiated were crucial to Africa. The continent was absorbed in redefining its post-colonial relations with its former metropole and also in establishing new relations among its component members. The two were related. On the African level, the debate was between those who sought a rigorous definition of Africanity including codes of foreign policy conduct and a tight Pan-African institutional framework, and those who advocated a good deal of ideological and institutional freedom for individual states. On the international level, the debate was between those who sought rapid diversification of relations (and to whom the Yaoundé Association was anathema) and those who wanted to continue to enjoy, within the greatest autonomy possible, the benefits of some special relationship with the former metropole. The Pan-African and laissez-faire points of view came together in 1963, in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which provided an institution and a code of principles but left interpretation and implementation to the member-states. Along with this settlement, the same year, came the first steps to join together those favoring distant and close relationships with Europe.

The Commonwealth states were generally of an independent frame of mind. They rejected inclusion in the enlarged European Community that Britain was negotiating with the EEC, but when Yaoundé I was signed three months after the French veto of the British application, they found the provisions of the new Association less offensively binding than they had feared.1 Negotiations with the East African Community did not, however, result in an effective agreement until 1968, when an accord limited to the question of reciprocal trade preferences was signed at Arusha.

In the following year the third round in the series of agreements was also signed at Yaoundé. This still included only the 18 Associates, although it was accompanied shortly thereafter by a second Arusha Convention with the three East African countries. There was little basic difference between Yaoundé I and II. The same signatories were involved, tied together in 18 overlapping free trade zones all with the same European Community. The second FED, of $900 million, was again over 25 percent larger than its predecessor, and there was an additional loan supplement. The one new element, an emergency reserve fund up to $80 million to cushion against a drop in world prices for tropical products or a natural calamity, was conceptually new but practically only a replacement for Yaoundé I aid to production. In everything including its name, Yaoundé II provided continuity until there could be agreement on innovation.

The solutions in the Accords reflected the transitional and contradictory nature of the pressures that produced them. On the level of preferences, the special treatment extended to the privileged Eighteen was not producing notable trade expansion, nor was it any protection against the caprices of the market for tropical products. Despite guaranteed access to the European market, the Associates had failed to expand their penetration of it. However, these same preferences were gradually being diluted by their partial extension to competing sources of tropical products, both within Africa and in the developing world in general.

On the level of protection, Europe was gradually building self-sufficiency through a number of measures, notably its common external tariff (CET) wall and behind that, its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). However, African states were also trying to build up their currency earnings through exports, often of the very industrial and agricultural products protected by European policies, while also trying to develop their own efforts at self-sufficiency in competition with the European products which they were supposed to admit duty-free (although all the agreements contained a safeguard clause permitting African tariffs for industrial and development purposes). On the level of international relations, the Africans (by their own choice) were still involved in individual trade zones between each African country and the European community, and although they negotiated jointly with the EEC, decision-making was in the hands of the Six, with only slight possibilities for adjustment left to the Eighteen. All these contradictions were part of the transition from purely colonial toward totally independent status.

A number of events gave concrete expression to these contradictions and also offered means of resolving them. In 1969, the same year as Yaoundé II, negotiations began for the enlargement of the European Community, and hence for the inclusion of Commonwealth and sterling-area states of Africa in some arrangement comparable to the Yaoundé Convention. After the British negotiations were successfully completed in January 1972, the Yaoundé Associates (now Nineteen with the accession of Mauritius) decided to join Commonwealth Africa in negotiating a Pan-African successor to the Convention. A year later, in May 1973, African trade ministers met in Abidjan to agree to the notion of bloc-to-bloc negotiations and to draw up a charter of eight principles to guide them, which African foreign ministers ratified in the OAU.

In addition to measures favoring inter-African cooperation, the Africans demanded the elimination of reverse preferences and of special personnel status for Europeans-and hence of reciprocity pure and simple. They also called for total unrestricted access to European markets for all including agricultural (i.e., CAP) products, the creation of effective stabilization mechanisms for fluctuating prices, the enhancement of African monetary independence, and the creation of an $8-billion development fund independent of any formal Association. These were not simply escalated demands, inflated versions of Yaoundé provisions. Each was a derogation of a Yaoundé principle that was part of the European position. But the metropolitan Nine also put forth their own resolution of the contradictions of Yaoundé: that Europe was no longer responsible for the state of the African economies when a matter of its own Community development conflicted with their interests.

The Lomé Convention, which went into effect on June 24, 1975 and terminates on March 1, 1980, institutionalizes a single multilateral relationship looser than the Associates' previous status but closer than that of the previous non-Associates. It provides for 37 one-way free trade zones between individual African states and the Community (and 9 others between Caribbean and Pacific states and Europe), with duty- and quota-free access to Europe and only nondiscriminatory most-favored-nation treatment for European goods entering Africa. The only exceptions to the free entry of African goods concern a small number of agricultural products-less than one percent of the signatories' exports to Europe-covered by the Common Agricultural Policy, which will get preferential although not duty-free entry, and sugar (accounting for about three percent of African, Pacific and Caribbean [ACP] exports to Europe) which is covered by specific import guarantees for an indefinite period. In addition to the sugar agreement, new and significant machinery for the stabilization of export earnings (STABEX), similar in many ways to the Common Market's own price stabilization machinery, covers 29 other basic tropical products, first-stage transformation products, and iron ore.

Including the $375-million STABEX fund, the aid package comes to $3 billion plus an additional $390 million in loans from the European Investment Bank, the total more than thrice the size of FED II for only a little more than thrice the population of the Yaoundé Associates (values given in pre-devaluation dollars). There are also provisions for European assistance in preparing and promoting commercialization and industrialization within the African signatory states. The appellation "Associates" has been dropped the 55 signatories are simply two groups of states seeking cooperation.

The African signatories can be divided into several categories. Nineteen were formerly Associates of the EEC they include 15 former French colonies with a combined population of 52 million and GNP of $8,300 million and an average per capita GNP of $240 three former Belgian colonies with a population of 30 million and GNP of $2,200 million and an average per capita GNP of $80 and a former Italian colony with 3 million people and $210 million in GNP. Of the remaining states hitherto unassociated with the EEC, 12 are members of the Commonwealth with a combined population of 140 million and GNP of $17,700 and an average per capita GNP of $170, and six comprise the rest of independent Africa south of the Sahara at the time of signing, with 48 million people and a $4,710 million GNP. New African states may also join the treaty.

Internal developmental factors aside, these African states have clearly improved the terms of their relationship with Europe over 15 years they have demanded and received more and more favorable provisions and the European signatories have received less and less in exchange. As in the case of the OAU, formal ties should not be confused with close ties. There can be a Eur-African convention in the postcolonial world precisely because it codifies such loose and imbalanced relations. The weaker of the two continents has the greater advantages-aid, preferences, supports, guarantees, protection-precisely because of its weakness and need. An all-African cooperation agreement with Europe lay at the crossroads of trends in European and African relations throughout the sixties and seventies. In outline, Britain's move to Europe started Commonwealth Africa moving toward the position of the non-Commonwealth Africans, where they met the Yaoundé Associates moving away from their past, close ties with the European Community members. A contractual relationship that was something less than Association was the result.

On the other side, Europe was no longer interested in separate African groups (since, in the worst interpretation, division no longer led to rule), so the Africans could no longer maintain separate status by themselves put otherwise, Europe was no longer interested in granting privileges to a few when they could have better relations with the many. Finally, good relations were deemed necessary, in part because Europe still considers such relations a family affair, or looks at the former colonies as former students or apprentices now on their own, and in part because Europe is dependent on Africa for her supplies of copper, coffee, cocoa and uranium, among others.

In addition to their multilateral continent-to-continent ties, two other aspects of Eur-African relations need to be evaluated: the structure of bilateral relations between former metropole and former colony in Africa, and the nature of the African leadership.

Bilateral relationships are gradually being diluted by multilateralization. The change began with the granting of sovereignty, but there are no longer any illusions that formal political independence means the end of European presence and influence in Africa. The single exception is Guinea, set adrift from France by its own choice, which found a surrogate former-metropole first in the U.S.S.R. and then in the United States. The other newly independent states tended to retain unequal ties with their metropole in a number of activities: post-colonial community, monetary zone, business relations, defense agreements. In these, the practices of the two largest groups of former colonies-British and French-are often quite similar despite their traditional differences in form, the French preferring contractual relationships and the British being more informal.

The postcolonial communities have evolved to reflect the change in bilateral relations, rather than restraining that change. The French Community, established in 1958 as successor to the colonial French Union, was rejected by even the most Francophilic states of Africa at the time of their independence as a way of proving their autonomy, and has had no significance since 1960. Since then, the idea of Francophonia-a French language commonwealth-has been pursued actively by such leading African presidents as Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, Leopold Sedar Senghor of Senegal, and Hamani Diori (now deposed) of Niger, but it too has continued to lose adherents. The Franco-African summit meeting of November 1973 in Paris was a formal and well-attended affair compared to the freewheeling series of overlapping visits which composed the next such event, at Bangui in March 1975. The French-speaking African and Malagasy Common Organization (OCAM) has lost six of its 16 members (including the Malagasy Republic itself) because, they preferred to avoid too close an association with the metropole. A larger notion of Latin Africa, to include former Portuguese as well as French and Belgian colonies, was raised by French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing while attending the Bangui summit. In the meantime, heads of French-speaking African states are frequent visitors in Paris. These various kinds of encounters, whether within an uninstitutionalized postcolonial community or on bilateral visits provide the occasion for an exchange of views, a continuity of contacts, a renewal of personal acquaintances, and for as much pressure on the French as on the Africans.

On the British side, the Commonwealth is an established and accepted institution that produces communiqués as well as contacts over a third of its 33 members are African. It is hard to say here too that influence is predominantly metropolitan on the contrary, the biennial meeting of the Commonwealth has weathered a biennial crisis by coming to terms with African demands and threats of withdrawal. In sum, the postcolonial communities are clubs, important above all for keeping contacts and channels open among leaders with a common language and cultural tradition. But as new leaders with more varied backgrounds appear-a point discussed in greater detail below-the club becomes important as the beginning, not the result, of an acquaintance and training process, and the level of effective influence declines further.

A second type of postcolonial tie is the monetary zone. While colonies, the African territories all used a variant of the metropolitan currency, often of limited convertibility and deflated value. In a short period of time, all former British, Belgian, Italian, and Spanish territories now independent have established their own monetary units, issuing banks, and independent reserve status. To this list are gradually being added a number of former French territories which have established monetary independence, with or without special agreements with the franc zone: Tunisia in 1958, Morocco in 1959, Guinea in 1960, Mali in 1962, Algeria in 1964, Mauritania and Madagascar in 1973. Twelve states of West and Central Africa remain in the franc zone, with pooled reserves and pegged currency, and three states of southern African are similarly tied to South Africa.

Such arrangements may appear anomalous in times of independence, but the ease with which Mauritania (with Algerian, Libyan, and Zaïrois support) and Madagascar withdrew, and the open pressures for reform of the franc zone led by Dahomey, indicate the directions of change. Even for those which remain, the other alternative is to transform the monetary agreements from instruments of centralized control into agreements on coordination and development (as in the Dakar Treaty of December 1973 revising the statutes of the Central Bank of the States of West Africa [BCEAO] and the West African Monetary Union [UMOA] in favor of greater African autonomy and equality).

A third type of tie to the metropole is through capital flows and their accompanying controls. Before independence, public and private investment in all African colonies was almost exclusively the domain of metropolitan capital. Even after a decade of independence this is still true in most cases-at the beginning of the 1970s, according to OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) figures, 26 of 32 independent Black African countries received the largest amount of their official development assistance from their former metropole. At the end of the 1960s (the latest figures available in detail), all but one African state-Guinea-received the largest amount of their foreign direct investment from their former metropole. But of those 26 countries with a predominantly metropolitan source of foreign aid, all received more than a quarter of their total official and private bilateral receipts from other sources all but two (plus Liberia) received more than a third and all but 11 more than a half.

In the field of investment, the picture is slightly different. Toward the end of the 1960s more than three-quarters of the direct foreign investment in seven of the 12 Commonwealth countries of Black Africa was British-owned, over three-quarters of the foreign investment in ten of the 15 former French colonies was French-owned, and the same proportion of investment in all three former Belgian territories was Belgian-owned. By the early 1970s foreign investment in Africa had increased by about 40 percent (somewhat less than the general world increase and amounting to less than five percent of global foreign investment). Much of that absolute increase was composed of a near-doubling of investment in Nigeria to nearly a quarter of all investment in Africa following the end of the Biafran War. This investment, of which the largest share but not the majority is British-owned, is now greater than total foreign investment in all former-French Black Africa, despite a large investment in Gabon.

More significantly, GNP is growing faster than foreign investment, even including the two unusual cases of Nigeria and Gabon, and not even taking into account the changes in capital ownership brought about by nationalization in a number of countries in the most recent years. The proportion of foreign investment to the GNPs of various African countries declined from less than a quarter at the end of the 1960s to nearly a fifth half a decade later-from 17 percent to 15 percent in former British Africa and from 30 percent to 25 percent (from 22 percent to 20 percent if Gabon is excluded) in former French Africa.

A final measure of foreign capital penetration can be made by estimating the productive value of foreign investments on an average turnover factor (generally estimated at 2.0). On the basis of this figure, the proportion of foreign investment averaged more than a third of GNP in the late 1960s in only 13 African states, and more than half in the case of only six. In the ensuing decade, as noted, the trend has been toward a decreasing share.

All too frequently, accurate statistics can be carefully quoted to show that the pocket is half full rather than half empty, and most of the above figures have been cited by authors emphasizing the unfair preponderance of foreign capital in Africa. In a snapshot at any particular moment, preponderance shows up somewhere, to be sure. But when the continental picture is shown, and its evolution examined in the short time-much less than a generation-after the monopoly domination of colonial rule, the trends of diversification and domestic production (two goals of EEC Association) appear both strong and rapid. Further citation and explication of statistics does not change the basic picture over time, nor do details of the more dramatic but unique cases such as Nigeria and Gabon.

A similar picture of changing imbalance characterizes defense relations. The colonial system was a system of world order in which metropolitan powers policed colonial areas, substituting European interests and conflicts of interest-which supposedly were under better control-for African and other concerns and conflicts. There were no African bases in Europe and no African treaty rights to intervene to restore European security (although African troops were gratefully accepted in World War II on the Allied side). This imbalance was inherent in the colonial situation, and it continued in reduced form on a contractual or residual basis thereafter.

Today, although some foreign troops still remain on the African continent and treaty rights to intervene on request may still exist, the dominant fact is the foreign military evacuation of the continent. Africa today has fewer foreign troops on its soil than Europe or Asia. British troops have gone completely. French troops have been reduced to fewer than 3,000 at present, located in a few installations in Gabon, Ivory Coast, and Djibouti (France's remaining colony in Africa). All other Western armed forces have been removed. Compared with this record of evacuations, it is noteworthy that the only non-African troops to be added to the continent since 1960 are the Russians, who have stationed support personnel for regular naval or missile operations in Conakry (Guinea) and Berbera (Somalia).

A few "return engagements" also remain, in the form of mutual defense treaties, notably those signed with France. For all the publicity these agreements have received, however, they have been notably unreliable. The only instances when they have been invoked have been in support of the government of Léon Mba in Gabon against a coup in 1964, and in support of the government of Francois Tombalbaye in Chad against guerrillas in 1968-1971. Numerous other heads of state have fallen despite such treaties and in 1973-1974 most of their provisions were revised and new treaties negotiated. Again, as in other aspects of postcolonial ties, there are some differences between the French and the British records, particularly in regard to timetables, but the overwhelming characteristic of both is peaceful withdrawal.

In sum, like the content of continent-to-continent relations, the structure of bilateral relations between former colony and former metropole has changed rather rapidly but without major shocks or violence over a period of 15 years or less. Although cases of postcolonial community, monetary zone, business interests, and defense treaties still remain, with some characteristic imbalance in the relations between the two sides, both their numbers and the imbalance have been reduced in the intervening period. As these bilateral ties become looser the differences in policies among various groups of African states disappear and it becomes possible to present a united front and obtain maximum benefits in negotiating a loose agreement such as the Lomé Convention.

The other element of influence and change is a more subtle matter that concerns the nature of the African leadership itself. The independence generation is being replaced by a very different post-independence generation. Fundamental ingrained differences in their relations with the metropole are inevitable and now apparent.

Leaders of the independence generation were characterized by two traits: they were formed in the metropolitan culture as subjects of the metropole, and they devoted their lives to the goal of political independence from the metropole. They were conditioned to think both French and anti-French, English and anti-English, and so on. Their feelings were focused in a sort of love-hate relationship with the metropole. Furthermore, politically they tended to regard formal sovereignty as "the big problem," and thus have tended to look positively at the metropole for having granted independence, mingling feelings of gratitude and victoriousness. With independence, they achieved formal equality with their former colonial master. Admittedly, derogations of sovereignty and equality thereby become doubly irksome, and long years of practicing anticolonialism can well lead to an anticolonialist fixation once independence is granted. But these negative corollaries of the independence generation's positive feelings have been more frequently characteristic of opposition leaders in the independence generation than of officials of the new states.

Sixteen states of Black Africa today are governed by leaders of the independence generation (although four of these received independence after 1970-three of them by protracted guerrilla warfare-and are therefore in a somewhat different category). In 17 states (plus Ethiopia), however, the independence generation has been replaced by military rulers. They tend to be a decade and a half (nearly a generation) younger than their predecessors, with very different experience and thus with different attitudes formed by it. Their past careers have generally given rise to neither love nor hate toward the metropole. All of them went to military school in the metropole before independence, but late enough in the period of colonization so that they experienced no major obstacles to their advancement in the colonial army or the colonial preparation for the independence army. Thereafter they were regularly promoted in the independent military of their country. Their concerns can generally be characterized as "order" and "progress," and they tend to look at the role of the former metropole as having little effect on these concerns. If anything, they are much less metropolitanized than their predecessors and the number of them who have been strongly attached to policies of "authenticity," or return to local cultural traditions, is greater than the number who have improved their country's relations with the former metropole.

There are almost no representatives of the succeeding, truly post-independence, generation among the African heads of state as yet. But the opinions of this generation have been described in recent studies,2 and are already clear through the actions of younger ministers such as Abdou Diouf of Senegal or Mohammed Diawara of the Ivory Coast. The cultural symbolism of authenticity is less important to them than the realities of incomplete economic and political independence. Mere sovereignty is not enough as a goal, and the continued presence of European technical advisers and businessmen in the former colonies is a situation to be corrected, just as colonial rule itself was the challenge to the independence generation.

With this younger generation, metropolitan influences are still present but less immediate. Although additional Black African states-beyond Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and Burundi-will declare an African language to be the national media of communication, the European colonial language still remains, and with it ingrained ways of doing things-legal systems, accounting systems, literary classics, educational systems. Gradually these systems will become "nationalized," adapted to national needs, as English-speaking states have been doing individually and as eight French-speaking states began to do in concert in May 1972. But it is still the inherited metropolitan way of doing things that is the starting point. Post-independence generation leaders are not accustomed to "thinking metropolitan" as were the independence generation but the "deep structure" of their culture still has a metropolitan ingredient, just as Latin America still remains Latin (Spanish or Portuguese) and North America still carries traces of England. In a word, the post-independence generation may still think in French or English but it is thinking African. Like the Sabras of Israel or Andrew Jackson's generation of America, its attitudes toward the preceding generation's problems are basically different from theirs.

While European presence as a base for influence in Africa is being diminished and diluted, Africa is moving at a steady pace, without abrupt shocks, to gain complete control of its own affairs and to improve the terms of its relations with European states. Capitalizing on its increased independence, Africa is able to exact a higher and higher price for a lessened European presence. Thus it can be seen that the dependency approach at best describes a static moment, while the decolonization theory accounts for changing relations by showing the origins and ingredients of the present state of affairs. The strength of the decolonization theory lies in the fact that it draws its explanation of changing relations from the successive stages that make up that change, and that it is consistent with both the general trends and the majority of details in the evolution of recent African history. As foreign bases have been evacuated, foreign firms nationalized, foreign investments broadened, foreign landholdings taken over, foreign educational programs revised, foreign trade preferences rescinded and terms of trade reevaluated, and foreign currency separated from the national treasury, the striking characteristic is the relative speed and ease with which such policies have been effected.

Current views on international relations hold all of these actions to be legitimate, and retaliation illegitimate, and African states have been members of various international forums that have changed views on the thinkable and unthinkable in the postwar period. When particularly stringent measures-such as nationalizations-are undertaken, as in the case of Zaïre or Algeria, the metropole may react by demanding a major revision of the accords which define the relation between the two countries. But such reactions are never attempts to restore a status quo ante but rather accommodations in the direction of the decolonization act that triggered the reaction.

African states have shown themselves quite capable of shedding another layer of European presence or influence when they are ready, just as African polities-le pays réel, as they were referred to-were eminently able to seize the highest value of politics, self-governance, and to change some of the major norms of international politics along the way. To pretend the contrary is to doubt the capabilities of Africans against all evidence-dependency theory is not the first supposedly liberal view to be built on a particular notion of others' good and others' abilities. Hence the pace of actual decolonization depends on the availability of personnel and material resources to replace current European inputs into African polities and economies.

Felt needs often outrun capabilities, and usually act as a goad on policy-makers both to develop those capabilities and to act on the basis of them. Most states feel a need to have their own armies, investments, experts and schoolbooks, even though they may not be immediately of the quality or quantity of those that could be imported. In the perspective of decolonization, it is important to the stability and peaceful evolution of a polity to keep the process moving, lest frustration and anger build up at the blockage to the natural flow of events. Dependency theory seeks to accentuate this anger, identify a target for blame, and make the blockage appear to be that target even where it is not. Of course dependency theory has a role to play within the process, as a means of keeping up pressure and sensitizing participants. But it must not be confused with analysis, any more than a confrontation can be analyzed from the point of view of one of the parties in a dialectic.

Two other problems are apparent in the dependency approach. One is that the theory is static. It mistakes the unfolding of a logical argument for the comprehension of successive, changing events. It deals with fixed relations, not with ongoing process, and so it confuses today's events with tomorrow's possibilities. By arguing that things really have not changed since colonial times, it both denies past change and ignores the possibility of future change, in a world whose generally recognized nature is change par excellence. It is easy to see the source of this static quality, for dependency is a mirror-image idea: it responds to the equally static racist caricature of the colonialist perspective, which held that the African native was inherently incapable of civilization, by claiming that it is the Westerner who is inherently incapable of allowing development, since it is not in his "interest." Thus, dependency has a scapegoat function, comforting the slow developer by showing him that the fault is not his but rather that of the outside forces of evil, which, more insidiously than ever because of their very subtle mechanism, are keeping him down.

Second, the approach makes a number of crucial assumptions. It assumes that a common enculturation in a broad family of values gives rise to common interests and common decisions (e.g., that all Americans think and act alike). Moreover, it assumes that there is a broad family of values called, indistinguishably, "Western" and "modern," that is different and antithetical to another family, called "native" or "African" or "authentic" or "Third World," or simply true. It assumes that motivation is equivalent to unambiguous interest, that development is not in Western interest nor in the interest of African elites, and that repression is the only way of keeping power. It also assumes that bilateral postcolonial predominance correlates with underdevelopment, a relation that careful studies have shown to be the reverse of reality.3 It is sufficient to state such assumptions to show their unreality, a quality that is usually well hidden under the necessary moralizing of the argument.

From an evolutionary point of view, therefore, the Lomé Convention is a welcome development. Neither a neocolonial consolidation nor an institutionalization of dependency, it is a natural step in the process of decolonization, that at the same time strengthens the capabilities of the developing African economies and polities while diluting their bilateral ties with the metropole. Measures that increase Africans' ability to peel off successive postcolonial layers and-the qualification is important-to replace them with multilateral ties and with domestic capabilities are sound and useful, even or especially when carried out by the former metropole. Precipitous withdrawal-as in the case of Guinea-leaves vacuums, provides shock without stimulus to domestic growth, and creates unnecessary antagonisms. Delayed withdrawal-as in interwar Egypt-drains energies needed elsewhere for domestic growth, prevents the creation of national groups and forces, and gives rise to frustrations that lead to debilitating instability. Instead, a regular succession of decolonization stages provides spaced occasions for renegotiating relations between new nation and former metropole, an important aspect in the redefinition of rules and roles required in a world searching for new orders.

The United States has not been mentioned in the above review because it is not directly involved. But the evolution of Eur-African relations deserves the sympathetic concern of Americans. Two themes are dominant in the current debate on American foreign policy: a New Realism which warns America to be aware of the limits of its capabilities, and a New Morality which calls on the country to shoulder the greater responsibility for international welfare concerns rather than international security matters. The possibilities for contradiction between these two charges are as obvious as the wisdom in each of them foreign policy-making consists of resolving such contradictions.

Africa has been so far from the center of the perceived priorities of recent American foreign policy that it would be utopian to call for a major reordering of goals. If America is unable to take on a major responsibility for developments in the continent, she can at least recognize and support the efforts of the European part of the Western world in conjunction with the Africans themselves. Colonial rule has ended in Africa (with the small exceptions of a French and a Spanish enclave on the east and west coasts), and much of the writing on American policy toward Africa concentrates on the importance of a greater awareness of the needs and demands of the Africans who still have no control over their destinies in the three minority-ruled territories of southern Africa. But it is also important that Americans be aware of the trends in cooperative decolonization and the development of greater welfare and negotiating capabilities in the greater part of the continent that has attained its independence. The removal of reverse preferences eliminates a major American objection to the previous Eur-African Association. The provision for advantages to African states in the Lomé agreement does not remove inequalities between the signatories but it helps reduce disparities among them. As the world experiments with détente as a sequel to East-West conflict, it is important that North-South inequalities in welfare not be treated in policy or analysis as the new dimensions of security conflicts. Rather, they should be the basis for negotiation, cooperation, and a common search for the optimum conditions of interdependence.

1 They did feel, however, that any arrangement negotiated under the 1963 Declaration of Intentions should not bind them to any reciprocity in preferences, since their own colonial arrangements in the Commonwealth Preference System gave them preferences on the metropolitan market without obligating them to grant reverse preferences for metropolitan goods. In September 1963, both Nigeria and the East African Community requested negotiations. Some prodigiously clever provisions were concocted to provide an agreement that contained reverse preferences without appearing to do so, but the Lagos Accord, signed on July 16, 1966 with Nigeria, never went into effect and finally died in the Biafran War. Talks with the three East African countries also broke down in mid-1965 over the reciprocity issue.

2 Cf., for example, Victor LeVine, Political Leadership in Africa, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967.

3 Cf., for example, the forthcoming study by Patrick J. McGowan, Economic Dependence and Economic Performance in Black Africa.


Here's Why Europe Really Needs More Immigrants

This picture taken on August 11, 2017, shows logos of non-governmental organisations 'SOS . [+] Mediterranee' and 'Medecins Sans Frontieres' on the Aquarius migrant transport ship. Here is something European governments don't say about their push for open borders. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

If Western Europe wants to keep its social benefits, the countries of the E.U. are going to need more workers. No place in the world has an older population that's not into baby making than Europe. No wonder policy planners are doing what they can to encourage immigration.. Eastern Europe is old. The U.K.'s median age is approaching a mid-life crisis, currently at 40.5. With fertility rates expected to hit zero in Europe in the next decade, the only way the European Union can fight elderly poverty and maintain its expensive entitlement programs is to increase immigration. Another option is to provide incentives to convince 20 and 30-something-year-olds to have more than one baby.

Being Young In Europe: Changing Demographics -- European Commission Position Paper

Germany's Pension Problem -- The Conversation

Maybe it's easier to call it a humanitarian crisis. This way you can convince apolitical voters that supporting migrants is simply a nice thing to do. Migrant arrivals into Europe, many from failed state Libya and Syria (Washington and NATO's hands in both), have made for divisive politics. It's become easier for politicians and their highly paid party strategists to just paint the other as being too "kumbaya" progressive, or a xenophobic racist.

There's a more complicated truth here, perhaps: math. The numbers do not add up for Europe. They are going "extinct."

Fertility rates in the advanced economies going down to zero. U.S. stands out. It has the best . [+] demographics in the West thanks to Latin American migration over the last 15 years and the millennial generation.

United Nation Population Database

This puts Europe in a pickle. The idea of opening its borders to eastern Europe was a way to expand European capital and labor markets. They increased the labor pool, driving down wages in working class manufacturing towns to come on par with that of Poland and the Czech Republic. They also got an educated workforce who had a long history of European customs. The one thing they did not get from the old Warsaw Pact nations was youth.

Poland's median age is 40.3. Czech Republic is 41.7. New euro zone member Lithuania in the Baltics is even older: 43.4, according to the CIA World Factbook. Despite the fact that many young people (say under 40) from the Baltics have moved to richer Western European cities like London and Stockholm, Sweden's average age is still higher than the U.S. at 41.2.

Today's migrants into Europe are coming from countries where Europeans spent most of the last two generations. destroying. That includes Iraq, where the U.K. and Spain were part of the Coalition of the Willing. It also includes Libya, where the U.K. sided with Washington war hawks in adding them to the list of failed states in the Middle East. The median age in Iraq is 19. In Libya, 24. The average European country is importing their future children.

Without them working, whether it's in hospitals or as public transportation workers, Germany's pension plan will be in trouble, according to data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Germany is the worst in Europe, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and . [+] Development. U.S. is in good shape thanks to better demographics.

World population growth in 2040 will be higher only because of the least developed regions on Earth, namely Africa. Population growth there is predicted by the United Nations to remain higher over the next 20 years. These are countries where a combination of tribal and religious warfare, coupled with natural disasters that have made it harder to work the land, have people living on less than a dollar a day. Many human rights organizations will point out how poor countries in Africa, like Ethiopia and the Congo, are taking in more refugees than the U.S. and Europe. That's because they cannot get to the United States and Europe and are basically walking across borders with everything they own on their backs. Others, who get a bit luckier, come to Europe.

Demographic trends from lower income countries (including lower labor rate countries) are one of the main causes of rising inequality within a country, a BIS report released this month states.

Immigration has led to political upheaval in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel chats with residents during a visit to a senior care facility on . [+] April 28, 2017. Germany is pushing 50. (Photo by Tim Riediger - Pool / Getty Images)

The Brexit vote revealed a demographic divide in Europe. Middle age and older voters chose Brexit. Younger segments of the population chose to remain. They didn't choose remain because they thought the U.K. should keep its borders open to Polish and Italian fintech workers. Nor was any side thinking about demographics it surely was not part of the general debate in the political press. Instead, it was an emotional, politically driven argument a with us or against us vote and nothing more. Brexit remains in limbo because beyond getting a vote against open borders on the record, lawmakers there had no plan for what to do next.

The average age in Africa is under 25 years old. With little opportunity and often-destroyed . [+] societies and local economies, millions are emigrating to Europe following roughly three years of an open borders welcome mat being pushed by the E.U. Europe will need these people to make up for near-zero fertility rates. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)

The smart debate about immigration is a debate about lackluster income growth among low to medium-skilled Europeans, and how to absorb the new wave of immigrants from poor countries, who are just going to keep driving those wages lower but are needed to make up for near-zero fertility rates in the future.

"The political divide of the future will be over the elderly protecting their social safety net and the working age population protecting their real post-tax incomes," report authors Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan wrote. If there are not enough working-aged people paying taxes, there is not enough money to pay for social security. Either taxes have to go higher to make up for that, or countries need to find a way to expand their tax base.

Europe is better off than Japan, at least. That's because Japan is mostly a closed society. So is South Korea. Their numbers will be hard to replace without the domestic population having more children. Japan's median age is 47. South Korea's is 41.2.

In Western Europe, Germany needs all the young it can get. If it means bringing them in from places who may not fully appreciate where they are, bring them in they must. The demographic picture for Europe, meanwhile, with an average age of 42.7, is not looking good. Immigration is their "baby boom."


Why Sweden beats other countries at just about everything

If you’re Swedish, you should be feeling pretty proud of yourself right now. Here's a few reasons why.

It’s easy to do business there

It’s really easy to do business in Sweden. So much so that it now ranks number one on the Forbes’ annual list of the Best Countries for Business. Compare that to economic powerhouse the US, which is in 23rd place.

Ten years ago, Sweden ranked no 17, but since then it has embarked upon a number of initiatives that have propelled it to the top. “Over the past two decades the country has undergone a transformation built on deregulation and budget self-restraint with cuts to Sweden’s welfare state,” says Forbes. It is also home to plenty of tech innovation and to “some of the most venerable, well-known brands in the world, including Volvo, Electrolux, Ericsson, IKEA and H&M.”

Forbes graded 139 countries on 11 factors including, innovation, taxes, technology, levels of bureaucracy and stock market performance.

It is globally competitive

The World Economic Forum publishes a Global Competitiveness Index every year, and this year it put Sweden in sixth place. “Growth has been robust, at 3.7 percent in 2016, and the country has managed to significantly decrease its deficit in 2015, jumping 30 places to 22nd on this indicator.

“The labour market functions reasonably well and Sweden has a high employment rate, with a high level of women’s participation in the workforce.”

It has good gender equality

Sweden is placed 4th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2016, having closed more than 81% of its overall gender gap. It has recently seen an increase in female legislators, senior officials and managers, and has reached parity in the number of women in ministerial positions.

It has low levels of corruption

Sweden has a low level of corruption and ranks 4th in Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 186 countries.

It’s highly innovative

The European Commission’s European Innovation Scoreboard 2016 places Sweden in top place. Alongside Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden is an “Innovation Leader” with innovation performance well above that of the EU average, according to the study.

Innovation performance is measured by average performance on 25 indicators. Sweden leads in human resources - the availability of a high-skilled and educated workforce - and quality of academic research.

It has a powerful passport

The power of a passport is defined as how many countries the holder has unfettered access to. Germany and Sweden top the list, with only one country between them. This makes the Swedish passport the second most powerful in the world.

The ranking, compiled by Henley & Partners, a citizenship and planning firm, takes into account how many countries can be visited without applying for a visa. German passport holders can travel to 177, out of a possible 218, while Swedes can visit 176.

It’s a great place to grow old

Sweden ranks third overall in the Global AgeWatch Index 2015, which measures the quality of life for older people. Sweden’s strengths lie in the capability of its older generation – they have above average employment rates (73.6%) and levels of educational attainment (68.7%).

Older people are highly satisfied with safety (73%), civic freedom (94%) and public transport (65%). Sweden also ranks high on the income security domain (7), with 100% pension income coverage and an old age poverty rate (5.3%) that is 3% below the regional average.

Swedes speak very good English, and are only beaten to the top by The Netherlands and Denmark. The ranking, which is compiled by language education company Education First, is the result of testing millions of people all over the world on their language skills.

English has been a compulsory subject throughout primary and secondary school in Sweden for the last four decades, and daily life in the region is characterized by constant exposure to English through non-dubbed English-language media, particularly on television.

It has the best reputation

It’s no surprise then, that Sweden tops the ranking this year (78.3 points), of the RepTrak reputation ranking. It’s a great place for families – it has 16 months of parental leave and free day care services - it invests in green living, has favourable economic growth, is a safe country for women, has transparency in the media and last, but by no means least - it's a beautiful country.


Affects of the Treaty

The treaty did three things. First, it enforced the budget restrictions of the Maastricht Treaty. Second, it reassured lenders that the EU would stand behind its members' sovereign debt. Third, it allowed the EU to act as a more integrated unit. Specifically, the treaty would create five changes:

  1. Eurozone member countries would legally give some budgetary power to centralized EU control.
  2. Members that exceeded the 3% deficit-to-GDP ratio would face financial sanctions, and any plans to issue sovereign debt must be reported in advance.
  3. The European Financial Stability Facility was replaced by a permanent bailout fund. The European Stability Mechanism became effective in July 2012, and the permanent fund assured lenders that the EU would stand behind its members—lowering the risk of default.
  4. Voting rules in the ESM would allow emergency decisions to be passed with an 85% qualified majority, allowing the EU to act faster.
  5. Eurozone countries would lend another 200 billion euros to the IMF from their central banks.  

This followed a bailout in May 2010, where EU leaders and the International Monetary Fund pledged 720 billion euros (about $920 billion) to prevent the debt crisis from triggering another Wall Street flash crash.   The bailout restored faith in the euro, which slid to a 14-month low against the dollar.  

The Libor rose as banks started to panic like in 2008.   Only this time, banks were avoiding each other’s toxic Greek debt instead of mortgage-backed securities.


Working together in research

More than 200,000 collaborations between Asian and European research institutions take place every year in the form of co-authorship of scientific publications. Cross-bloc collaboration represents close to one third of research collaborations in ASEM countries.

Researchers from institutions in Australia, New Zealand and India collaborate around twice as much with European countries than with Asian countries, and Russian researchers collaborate three times more with European ones. Cross-bloc collaboration is stronger on the Asian side than on the European side, since European countries also have a strong internal collaboration network supported by large EU-funded research programmes.

Have you read?

Countries such as China, Australia, the UK, Germany, Russia and France provide an intercontinental bridge for scientists. The most collaborations are between the UK and China, and the UK and Australia (more than 10,000 each), followed by Germany and China (around 7,000).

Researchers in small Asian nations find key research partners in European countries. For example, research collaborations between Laos and the UK represent around 20% of Laos’ research outputs. The same trend is seen between Mongolia and Germany, and Myanmar and the UK.


Geography as Destiny: A Brief History of Economic Growth

In the 1970s Harvard undergraduates used to be offered what was called the Sherwin-Williams course. In lieu of a single coherent economic history, a galaxy of faculty stars would "paint the globe." One after another they would describe to their audience, seated in the university's vast Memorial Hall, different facets of world economic history-first the experience of Europe, then America, then Asia, and finally, time permitting, other parts of the world. What the course offered in variety, it lacked in coherence. But no one felt capable, or at least inclined, to describe a whole that was more than the sum of these parts.

Few scholars, in other words, have the courage to pose the questions addressed by David Landes in his new book. Consciously echoing the title of Adam Smith's classic, the author sets out to explain nothing less than the wealth of nations-why some are rich while others are poor. Even fewer scholars aspiring to answer such questions would be taken seriously in an age when economists specialize in technical treatments of narrow topics and historians indulge in postmodern analyses of gender and identity. But Landes has exceptional credentials. Having moved across departments at Harvard, from history to economics, disciplinary boundaries do not deter him. His 1969 book, The Unbound Prometheus, may be the single most widely read history of Western technology. The present book, a lineal descendant of that predecessor, shows every sign of having been carefully crafted over many years. In it Landes enlarges his canvas to cover not just technology but other aspects of economic growth, and not just Western Europe but the world.

To be sure, there have been previous attempts to pull this off, starting with Smith himself, who saw economic growth as a single coherent process driven by the expansion of the market. But Smith focused on the growth of trade and did not appreciate the industrial and technological revolutions going on around him. Landes is a powerful advocate of capitalism, but the writer in whose footsteps he follows most closely is, ironically, Karl Marx. Marx, like Landes, saw technological change and capital accumulation as powerful engines of economic growth sweeping aside all in their paths. Of course, Marx reached a different verdict than Landes on the long-run viability of capitalism and offered a rather mechanistic rendition of the growth process, positing that the less-advanced economy sees in the more-advanced economy an image of its future (in other words, that all countries follow the same development trajectory).

Alexander Gerschenkron, for many years Landes' colleague, offered an improved model of development. According to Gerschenkron in his 1970 book, Europe in the Russian Mirror, some countries, of which Russia was prototypical, initially lacked the economic and social preconditions for capitalist development. The more backward the economy in this sense, the later its industrialization. But the longer industrialization was delayed, the faster it went once started, since the latecomer could import the most advanced technology. It followed that economic structure differed between early and late industrializers: the economies of the latecomers were more capital intensive, and the state, heavy industry, and large banks played more important roles in surmounting the obstacles to industrialization. Germany was a classic late industrializer, Britain the early bird.

But Gerschenkron's geographic competence was limited, his account stretching no further east than European Russia. His emphasis on the ability of bankers, managers, and government officials to find substitutes for growth's missing requirements only heightened the mystery of why substantial parts of the world were so resistant to change.

If one approach to the historical study of economic growth can be said to be the most influential, it is that which takes technology as the fundamental force for growth. This was the focus of Landes' teacher, Abbott Payson Usher, as it has been for generations of historians of Western technology. Their agenda has been to model technological change as an endogenous process. They look not simply at the consequences of technological change, but also its causes. Technical progress, in this view, accelerated in the West following the Renaissance and Reformation, which cultivated a culture of rationality and fostered systematic curiosity. It responded to the expansion of trade in Smith's century, since increased economic mobility facilitated the flow of information and expanding commerce held out the lure of greater profits. It encouraged and was encouraged by the limited state, which provided inducements for industry but allowed markets to operate and limited interference by foreign marauders and the tax man.

Recently, this tradition, emphasizing the singularity of Western technological achievement, has fallen out of favor in the academy. In the now-fashionable multiculturalist view, Europe's knowledge and know-how did not surpass those of other civilizations until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Gunpowder, paper and printing, and the first long-distance explorers all came from the East, after all. Europe was just luckier, or at best more systematic in exploiting the discoveries and resources of other regions.

Landes launches an all-out counterattack against cultural relativity in economic history. He insists that the West is special, its achievements unique, and that to argue otherwise is bad history. Its distinctiveness derives from two factors: geography and culture. Europe's Industrial Revolution was, at the deepest level, a product of the Gulf Stream. The continent's mild summers permit intense physical activity, unlike the tropics, whose heat and humidity force even the most energetic to seek shelter from the midday sun, and where the incentive to find others to do hard labor accounts for the concentration of wealth and ultimately explains the rise of slave society, a form of economic and social organization incompatible with capitalist growth. As the author puts it with characteristic bluntness, "Where society is divided between a privileged few landowners and a large mass of poor, dependent, perhaps unfree laborers-in effect, between a school for laziness (or self-indulgence) over against a slough of despond-what is the incentive to change and improve?" Europe's cold winters suppressed pathogens and pests and rendered parasitism the exception, increasing the capacity of its natives for work. The continent enjoyed just the right amount of rainfall, between the extremes of desert, where crops died of thirst and topsoil eroded away, and the torrents of the Tropics, where jungle and rain forest crowded out settled agriculture.

All else followed from this favorable climate. The agricultural revolution followed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, raising living standards, generating an investable surplus, and freeing labor for employment in industry. A state with the capacity to fend off invaders followed, since control of the river valleys that fed food supplies was vital to survival. The favorable climate sustained larger horses capable of dominating set military battles and repelling invaders, plowing clayey soils, and, not incidentally, producing more animal fertilizer than those of other regions. Sustained growth required only that the hardwood forests covering most of northern Europe be cleared away, which became possible with the development of iron cutting tools whose appearance and diffusion explain the timing of Europe's economic divergence from the rest of the world.

The ultimate product of Europe's geography and climate was Western democracy itself. In India and China, flood and drought made the control of water flow essential to the production of food. Controlling water in turn entailed the construction of large-scale hydraulic projects by forced labor. This implied a powerful, centralized state whose tentacles extended into all parts of the economy. Private property and individual initiative were luxuries such societies could ill afford. Invention and innovation were threats to the political and religious elite, the ultimate vested interests.

The more benign geography and climate of the West, by contrast, supported a more independent life. There was less need to concentrate labor on the land. It was possible to survive outside the confines of the coordinating state. Germanic law and tradition, appropriate to the circumstances of Central Europe's nomadic tribes, recognized each individual as master of his possessions, a custom of which mobility was the ultimate arbiter. Since the oppressed were able to vote with their feet, state power derived from consent and was therefore limited. From this followed the rise of city-states and competition among them, including competition to attract economic resources and cultivate military might. To be sure, the growth of the Smithian market required a strong centralist state in sixteenth-century England and seventeenth-century France, but there was still a sharp contrast with Eastern despotism.

Thus, from geography sprang a social and political form of organization and a culture conducive to economic growth. The logic of this argument leads Landes into a defense of Weber's thesis of the connections between the Protestant ethic and the rise of capitalism and, more importantly, of Robert Merton's link between Protestantism and the advent of modern science. Calvinistic Protestantism, Landes agrees, legitimized and encouraged behavior consistent with business success. It gave sanction to rationality and encouraged the belief that man could master his environment. Its emphasis on instruction and literacy facilitated the acquisition and spread of knowledge. The result was not just the rise of experimental science but its coupling with a self-sustaining dynamic of practical, profit-oriented industrial innovation.

Here, then, was where Western Europe and its North American appendage diverged from other parts of the world. The Reformation was a fundamental threat to the established church, which regarded intellectual and political novelty as subversive and persecuted nonconformists, prohibiting study abroad and stifling the spread of scientific knowledge. Landes argues that the anti-Protestant backlash sealed the fate of southern Europe for the next three hundred years. Southern Europe, in turn, exported its shortcomings to South America. In North America, by contrast, geography and the culture of dissent carried the day. Abundant free land created a society of small farmers and well-paid workers of unparalleled individualism, self-reliance, and initiative. Ample natural resources and an extensive consumer market, itself the product of a relatively level income distribution, led to the American system of manufactures, a form of industrial organization in which raw materials were intensively used to churn out standardized products using what ultimately developed into mass-production techniques. Even the American South, where climate and geography had encouraged the use of slave labor, quickly shed the lingering effects of its anticapitalist system once air conditioning freed it of its climatic handicap.

Japan poses something of a problem, and an important one, given that it was the first non-Western country to industrialize. From the seventeenth century, Japan closed itself off from the West and Western learning. The shogunate systematically extracted resources from the mercantile class. But once again, culture and geography come to the rescue: while Japan did not have Calvinism, Buddhism encouraged a similar work ethic, and a geographically compact economy undermined efforts to protect local industry from competition. Ultimately, the vibrancy of the economy broke down barriers to intellectual exchange. The Meiji Restoration and the resumption of relations with the outside world were more consequence than cause. Korea and Taiwan, to which many of Japan's lessons were forcibly transplanted, succeeded in following, but not so most other non-Western nations.

The truly disturbing aspect of this story, of course, is the tenacity of cultural inheritance and the inevitability of geographic destiny. Africa remains slow to develop even today because of an unfavorable climate, a view recently advanced by Landes' Harvard colleague Jeffrey Sachs. The Middle East is held back by the culture of submission characteristic of Islam. Much of Latin America remains handicapped by the legacy of Iberian colonialism. As for the future, no Huntingtonian clash of civilizations here for "the rest" is too weak.

WANTED: PATIENT ECONOMISTS

Unfortunately for Landes, an increasing number of economies refuse to conform to the pattern. Chile, Peru, and even Argentina and Brazil have cast aside monetary instability, for the time being at least, and display very respectable rates of growth. China has joined the first rank of rapidly growing economies. By comparison, the Asian miracles of Korea, Thailand, and Japan suddenly look less impressive as they face a steep crisis. (Of course, if Landes' argument is correct, this too shall pass.) One wonders whether the tyranny of geography has been weakened by technological change, be it in the form of drought-resistant seeds that make farming possible in arid climates, air conditioners that make it tolerable to work in a factory in Atlanta, or containers that render shipping to far-flung lands economical. One wonders similarly whether cultural inheritance has been rendered increasingly irrelevant by the revolution in communications that has brought VCRs and satellite dishes to the most remote Indian villages and, with them, the homogenizing influence of the mass media. If so, perhaps all that are left to determine the capacity for growth are the government's economic policies, specifically toward money, trade, property rights, and education.

Time will tell-as, hopefully, will scholarship. That the great questions of economic history that occupy Landes tend increasingly to be regarded as fair game for pundits rather than scholars is one of the intellectual tragedies of our times. The erudition on display in this book requires one to read more than one writes, something that is not rewarded in today's academic age of publish or perish. It requires one to invest decades in crafting a single book, not something that is

encouraged by a culture of instant gratification. Historians, sad to say, are among the worst offenders. The postmodernism and multiculturalism that run rampant in history departments are fundamentally incompatible with the approach taken by Landes here. Attempting to offer a rational explanation for the dominance of postmodernism in historical scholarship would be a self-contradictory exercise in futility. Painful as it is to admit for a resident of Berkeley, California, one suspects that there is an element of politics involved. The children of the sixties set in motion this intellectual tide. Fortunately, each generation of children is inclined to rebel against its parents. One waits with baited breath for the next generation of history students to rebel against their teachers.

Until then, most economic historians will continue to work in economics departments and talk with economists. Indeed, the typical economist is more sympathetic to economic history nowadays than in years. Economic history has always been about why some are rich while others are poor, and economists, responding to the increasing sterility of business-cycle analysis, have recently returned to this fundamental question. The failure of the transition economies of Eastern Europe to grow and prosper immediately following the collapse of the Soviet bloc reminded the economics profession of the importance of historical preconditions for growth.

But economists are the least patient of scholars. To be sure, they will read Landes. They will latch onto one or more of his ideas, and they will grab growth indicators from the World Bank database in the effort to subject them to statistical tests. But if economics is to develop into a serious discipline, they will have to do more. They will have to understand the growth patterns they observe as historical processes. They will have to emulate Landes' example, not just by asking the big questions but by pursuing them with the breadth and depth of scholarship they deserve.


Political fallout: ɼompassion fatigue has taken root'

Jenny Hill, Berlin correspondent: Crimes committed by asylum seekers dominated headlines. The attacks on young women in Cologne on New Year's Eve 2015 at the hands of men who came - in the main - from North Africa fuelled anger as did the terror attack on a Berlin Christmas market, perpetrated by a Tunisian man who had come to Europe as an asylum seeker.

Maddy Savage, Sweden correspondent: Crime has become part of the immigration debate here, too. There have been high-profile incidents, but police will tell you that crime in certain high-immigration areas is largely not from recent arrivals but from criminal networks and gangs.

Jenny Hill, Berlin correspondent: There was a backlash against Merkel's "we can manage" policies, and she soon dropped the slogan as support for the anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party grew. "Flüchtlingspolitik" (refugee politics) polarised society.

Julian Miglierini, BBC reporter in Rome: In Italy, nationalists exploited a perceived lack of co-operation from the EU and fellow European countries during the crisis. They've expressed anti-migrant sentiments and the message has clicked with many Italians. Nationalists have certainly had electoral success here since.

Daphne Halikiopoulou, professor of European politics: The trend we've seen in Europe, starting from the economic crisis and then continuing with the migrant crisis, is the shrinking of the mainstream and the rise of nationalist policies.

Maddy Savage, Sweden correspondent: The nationalist Sweden Democrats have got more attention here since the crisis and have gained in popularity. It's become more acceptable to voice anti-immigration views, and a cap on numbers has been introduced and even adopted as a policy by the centre-left.

Bethany Bell, Austria correspondent: The crisis has brought about significant change in Austrian politics. Opposing immigration has been a huge theme for Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. His anti-migrant message helped him win two elections and take votes away from the far-right. It's still a dominant issue for his conservative party.

Daphne Halikiopoulou, professor of European politics: The actual immigration numbers often don't correspond with people voting for a particular party. What's more important is how voters perceive the crisis and how it's portrayed. In this way, parties have been able to influence mainstream politics in a way that they weren't before.

Guy De Launey, Balkans correspondent: Some nationalist politicians have attempted to use the crisis to stir up support. In general, sympathy for the plight of those coming up the Balkan Route appears to have declined. People are protesting against asylum centres and compassion fatigue has taken root.

Nick Thorpe, Central Europe correspondent: And in Hungary the conservative Fidesz government has used the crisis to bolster its own support. This, combined with an economic boom, made them unbeatable in 2018.

Daphne Halikiopoulou, Professor of European politics: We can understand the impact of the migrant crisis mostly in terms of the opportunity it presented to [nationalist] parties to increase their support. And I think we'll continue to see these parties becoming more embedded in the political mainstream.


Why we must not let Europe break apart

I t’s time to sound the alarm. Seven decades after the end of the second world war on European soil, the Europe we have built since then is under attack. As the cathedral of Notre Dame burned, Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National was polling neck and neck with Emmanuel Macron’s movement for what he calls a “European renaissance”. In Spain, a far-right party called Vox, promoting the kind of reactionary nationalist ideas against which Spain’s post-Franco democracy was supposedly immunised, has won the favour of one in 10 voters in a national election. Nationalist populists rule Italy, where a great-grandson of Benito Mussolini is running for the European parliament on the list of the so-called Brothers of Italy. A rightwing populist party called The Finns, formerly the True Finns (to distinguish them from “false” Finns of different colour or religion), garnered almost as many votes as Finland’s Social Democrats in last month’s general election. In Britain, the European elections on 23 May can be seen as another referendum on Brexit, but the underlying struggle is the same as that of our fellow Europeans. Nigel Farage is a Le Pen in Wellington boots, a True Finn in a Barbour jacket.

Meanwhile, to mark the 30th anniversary of the velvet revolutions of 1989, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has denounced a charter of LGBT+ rights as an attack on children. In Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland successfully deploys a völkisch rhetoric we thought vanquished for good, although now it scapegoats Muslims instead of Jews. Remember Bertolt Brecht’s warning: “The womb is fertile still/ from which that crawled.” Viktor Orbán, the young revolutionary hero of 1989 turned bulldog-jowled neo-authoritarian, has effectively demolished liberal democracy in Hungary, using antisemitic attacks on the billionaire George Soros and generous subsidies from the EU. He has also enjoyed political protection from Manfred Weber, the Bavarian politician whom the European People’s party, Europe’s powerful centre-right grouping, suggests should be the next president of the European commission. Orbán has summed the situation up like this: “Thirty years ago, we thought Europe was our future. Today, we believe we are Europe’s future.”

Italy’s Matteo Salvini agrees, so much so that he is hosting an election rally of Europe’s rightwing populist parties, an international of nationalists, in Milan later this month. To be sure, the spectacle of a once-great country reducing itself to a global laughing stock, in a tragic farce called Brexit, has silenced all talk of Hungexit, Polexit or Italexit. But what Orbán and co intend is actually more dangerous. Farage merely wants to leave the EU they propose to dismantle it from within, returning to an ill-defined but obviously much looser “Europe of nations”.

Wherever one looks, old and new rifts appear, between northern and southern Europe, catalysed by the eurozone crisis, between west and east, reviving the old stereotypes of intra-European orientalism (civilised west, barbaric east), between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, between two halves of each European society, and even between France and Germany.

F or anyone who takes a longer view, these mounting signs of European disintegration should not be a surprise. Isn’t this a pattern familiar from European history? In the 17th century, the horrendously destructive thirty years war was concluded by the peace of Westphalia. At the turn of the 18th to the 19th, the continent was torn apart by two decades of Napoleonic wars, then stitched together in another pattern by the Congress of Vienna. The first world war was followed by the Versailles peace. Each time, the new post-war European order lasts a while – sometimes shorter, sometimes longer – but gradually frays at the edges, with tectonic tensions building up under the surface, until it finally breaks apart in a new time of troubles. No European settlement, order, empire, commonwealth, res publica, Reich, concert, entente, axis, alliance, coalition or union lasts for ever.

Set against that historical measuring rod, our Europe has done pretty well: it is 74 years old this week, if we date its birth to the end of the second world war in Europe. It owes this longevity to the miraculously non-violent collapse in 1989-91 of a nuclear-armed Russian empire that had occupied half the continent. Only in former Yugoslavia, and more recently in Ukraine, have we witnessed what more normally follows the fall of empires: bloody strife. Otherwise, what happened after the end of the cold war was a peaceful enlargement and deepening of the existing, post-1945 west European order. Yet maybe now the muse of history is shouting, like some grim boatman from the shore, “come in Number 45, your time is up!”

Santiago Abascal, the leader of Vox, a far-right party in Spain. Photograph: Pablo Blázquez Domínguez/Getty

In one respect, however, this time is different. For centuries, Europe kept tearing itself apart, then putting itself together again, but all the while exploiting, colonising and bossing around other parts of the world. With the European civil war that raged on and off from 1914 to 1945, once described by Winston Churchill as a second thirty years war, Europe deposed itself from its global throne. In act five of Europe’s self-destruction, the US and the Soviet Union strode on to the stage like Fortinbras at the end of Hamlet. Yet, Europe was at least still the central stage of world politics throughout the cold war that followed. Europeans made history once again for a brief shining moment in 1989, but then Hegel’s Weltgeist, the “world spirit”, moved rapidly on from Berlin to Beijing.

Today, Europe struggles to remain a subject rather than becoming merely an object of world politics – with Beijing hungry to shape a Chinese century, a revanchist Russia, Donald Trump’s unilateralist US, and climate change threatening to overwhelm us all. Both Russia and China merrily divide and rule across our continent, using economic power to pick off weaker European states and disinformation to set nation against nation. In the 19th century, European powers engaged in what was called the scramble for Africa in the 21st, outside powers engage in a scramble for Europe.

Of course, Europe means many different things. It is a continent with ill-defined borders, a shared culture and history, a contested set of values, a complex web of institutions and, not least, hundreds of millions of people, all with their own individual Europes. Nationalists like Le Pen and Orbán insist they just want a different kind of Europe. Tell me your Europe and I will tell you who you are. But the central institution of the post-1945 project of Europeans working closely together is the European Union, and its future is now in question.

None of this radicalisation and disintegration is inevitable, but to avert it, we have to understand how we got here, and why this Europe, with all its faults, is still worth defending.

I t is 1942. In a tram rattling through Nazi-occupied Warsaw sits an emaciated, half-starved 10-year-old boy. His name is Bronek. He is wearing four sweaters, yet still he shivers despite the August heat. Everyone looks at him curiously. Everyone, he is sure, sees that he is a Jewish kid who has slipped out of the ghetto through a hole in the wall. Luckily, no one denounces him, and one Polish passenger warns him to watch out for a German sitting in the section marked “Nur für Deutsche”. And so Bronek survives, while his father is murdered in a Nazi extermination camp and his brother sent to Bergen-Belsen.

Sixty years on, I was walking with Bronek down one of the long corridors of the parliament of a now-independent Poland. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks, turned to me, stroked his beard and said with quiet passion: “You know, for me, Europe is something like a Platonic essence.”

In the life of Prof Bronisław Geremek, you have the essential story of how, and why, Europe came to be what it is today. Having escaped the horrors of the ghetto (“the world burned before my eyes”), along with his mother, he was brought up by a Polish Catholic stepfather, served as an altar boy and was taught by an inspiring priest in the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So he had also, in his bones, Europe’s deep and defining Christian heritage. Then, at the age of 18, he joined the communist party, believing it would build a better world. Eighteen years later, stripped of his last illusions by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he resigned from that same party in protest and returned to his professional life as a medieval historian. But politics somehow would not let him go.

I first encountered him during a historic occupation strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk in August 1980, when the leader of the striking workers, Lech Wałęsa, asked Geremek to become an adviser to the protest movement that would soon be christened Solidarity. Over the subsequent decade I would visit him, whenever I got the chance, in his small apartment in Warsaw’s Old Town, which had been razed to the ground by the Nazis, then rebuilt stone upon stone by the Poles. As he puffed away at his professorial pipe, he shared with me his pellucid analysis of the decline of the Soviet empire, even as he and his comrades in Solidarity helped turn that decline into fall. For in 1989, he was the intellectual architect of the round table talks that were the key to Poland’s negotiated transition from communism to democracy, and Poland was the icebreaker for the rest of central Europe.

Ten years on, he was the foreign minister who signed the treaty by which Poland became a member of Nato. When I visited him in the foreign ministry, I spotted on his mantelpiece a bottle of a Czech vodka called Stalin’s Tears. “You must have it!” he exclaimed. “A Polish foreign minister cannot keep Stalin in his office!” And so that bottle of Stalin’s Tears stands on my mantelpiece in Oxford as I write. In memory of Bronek, I will never drink it.

Lech Wałęsa speaks to workers during a strike at the Gdańsk shipyard in 1980. Photograph: Erazm Ciołek/Forum/Reuters

Having been instrumental in steering his beloved country into the European Union, he subsequently became a member of the European parliament, that same parliament to which we are electing new representatives this month. Tragically, but in a way symbolically, he died in a car accident on the way to Brussels.

Geremek’s story is unique, but the basic form of his Europeanism is typical of three generations of Europe-builders who made our continent what it is today. When you look at how the argument for European integration was advanced in various countries, from the 1940s to the 1990s, each national story seems at first glance very different. But dig a bit deeper and you find the same underlying thought: “We have been in a bad place, we want to be in a better one, and that better place is called Europe.” Many and diverse were the nightmares from which these countries were trying to awake. For Germany, it was the shame and disgrace of the criminal regime that murdered Bronek’s father. For France, it was the humiliation of defeat and occupation for Britain, relative political and economic decline for Spain, a fascist dictatorship for Poland, a communist one. Europe had no shortage of nightmares. But in all these countries, the shape of the pro-European argument was the same. It was an elongated, exuberant pencilled tick: a steep descent, a turn and then an upward line ascending to a better future. A future called Europe.

Personal memories of bad times were a driving force for three distinctive generations. Many of the founding fathers of what is now the European Union were what one might call 14ers, still vividly recalling the horrors of the first world war. (The 14ers included the British prime minister Harold Macmillan, who would talk with a breaking voice of the “lost generation” of his contemporaries). Then came the 39ers like Geremek, indelibly shaped by traumas of war, gulag, occupation and Holocaust. Finally, there was a third cohort, the 68ers, revolting against the war-scarred generation of their parents, yet many of them also having experience of dictatorship in southern and eastern Europe.

The trouble starts when you have arrived in the promised land. Now, for the first time, we have a generation of Europeans – let’s call them the 89ers – who have known nothing but a Europe of closely connected liberal democracies. Call it a European empire or commonwealth, if you will. To be sure, “Europe whole and free” remains an ideal, not a reality, for millions who live here, especially those who are poor, belong to a discriminated minority or seek refuge from across the Mediterranean. But we are closer to that ideal than ever before.

It would be a parody of middle-aged condescension to say “these young people don’t know how lucky they are!”. After all, younger voters are often more pro-European than older ones. But it would not be wrong to say that many 89ers who have grown up in this relatively whole and free continent do not see Europe as a great cause, the way 39ers and 68ers did. Why be passionate about something that already exists? Unless they have grown up in the former Yugoslavia or Ukraine, they are unlikely to have much direct personal experience of just how quickly things can all unravel, back to European barbarism. By contrast, many of them do know from bitter experience how life got worse after the financial crisis of 2008.

O n the walls of Al-Andalus, a tapas bar in Oxford, depictions of flamenco dancers and bullfights embrace cliche without shame. Here, when I first met him in 2015, Julio – dark-haired, lean and intense – worked as a waiter. But serving tourists in a tapas bar in England was not what he expected to be doing with his life. He had just finished a master’s degree in European studies at Computense University in Madrid. It was the eurozone crisis – which at its height made one in every two young Spaniards unemployed – that reduced him to this. Looking back, Julio describes his feelings when he had to make this move abroad: “Sadness, impotence, solitude.”

Across the continent there are many thousands of Julios. For them, the tick line has been inverted: it started by going steadily up, but then turned sharply downwards after 2008. Ten years ago, you and your country were in a better place. Now you are in a worse one, and that is because Europe has not delivered on its promises.

Here is the cunning of history: the seeds of triumph are sown in the moment of greatest disaster, in 1939, but the seeds of crisis are sown in the moment of triumph, in 1989. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that many of the problems haunting Europe today have their origins in the apparently triumphant transition after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A few far-sighted people warned at the time. The French political philosopher Pierre Hassner wrote in 1991 that, even as we celebrated the triumph of freedom, we should remember that “humankind does not live by liberty and universality alone, that the aspirations that led to nationalism and socialism, the yearning for community and identity, and the yearning for solidarity and equality, will reappear as they always do”. And so they have.

The events of 1989 opened the door to an unprecedented era of globalised, financialised capitalism. While this facilitated great material progress for a new middle class in Asia, in the west it generated levels of economic inequality not seen since the early 20th century. A divide also opened up between those with higher education and international experience, and those in the less fortunate other halves of European societies. The latter felt an inequality of attention and respect from the former. Barriers to freedom of movement between European countries were eliminated while little thought was given to what Europe would do if large numbers of people wanted to enter through the outer frontier of the Schengen zone. What followed was problems of large-scale emigration, for the poorer countries of eastern and southern Europe, and of immigration for the richer ones of northern Europe – be it the internal movement of more than 2 million east Europeans to Britain or the influx of more than 1 million refugees from outside the EU to Germany.

When the global financial crisis hit, it exposed all the inherent flaws of a halfway-house eurozone. Hastened into life as a political response to German unification, the eurozone that we have today, a common currency without a common treasury, hitching together such diverse economies as those of Greece and Germany, had been warned against in vain by numerous economists. Absent a decisive, far-sighted response from northern Europe, and especially from Germany, the impact on southern Europe was traumatic. Not only did the eurozone crisis drive Julio to that dreary tapas bar and people in Greece to desperate hardship it kick-started a new wave of radical and populist politics, on both left and right, and with mixtures of left and right that don’t easily fit into that old dichotomy.

Populists blame the sufferings of “the people” on remote, technocratic, liberal elites. Europe, or more accurately “Europe”, is particularly vulnerable to this attack. For most officials in Brussels are quite remote, quite technocratic and quite liberal. Although members of the European parliament are directly elected, that parliament can at times seem like a bubble within the Brussels bubble. Although their remuneration is peanuts compared to that of the bankers who nearly crashed the globalised capitalist system, EU leaders, parliamentarians and officials are very well paid. Watching them jump out of a chauffeur-driven BMW to deliver another smooth, visionary speech about the future of Europe, before jumping back into the BMW to be swept off to another nice lunch, it is not surprising that many less privileged Europeans say: “Well, they would praise Europe, wouldn’t they?”

E arlier this year, in a shabby office in Westminster, I was talking to someone who, like me, passionately wants a second referendum on Brexit, in which the majority votes to remain in the EU. What should be our campaign slogan? Among others, he suggested “Europe is great!” I winced. Why? Because this calls to mind the toe-curling British government national promotion campaign built around the motto “Britain is GREAT”. Countries that feel the need to proclaim in capital letters that they are great probably no longer are. But also because of all these problems that have accumulated across Europe during the 30 years of peace since 1989. Europe is great for us, the educated, privileged, mobile and gainfully employed, but do you really feel like saying “Europe is great!” with a straight face to the unemployed, unskilled worker in the post-industrial north of England, the southern European graduate who can’t find a job, or the Roma child or the refugee stuck in a camp?

We are only credible if we acknowledge that the European Union is now passing through an existential crisis, under attack from inside and out. It is paying the price both for past successes, which result in its achievements being taken for granted, and past mistakes, many of them having the shared characteristic of liberal over-reach.

The case for Europe today is very different from that of a half-century ago. In the 1970s, people in Britain, Spain or Poland looked at countries like France and West Germany, just coming to the end of the trente glorieuses – the three postwar decades of economic growth – in the then much smaller European Community, and said “we want what they’re having”. Today, the case starts with the defence of a Europe that already exists, but is now threatened with disintegration. If the construction were so strong that we could without hesitation say “Europe is great!”, it would not need our support so badly.

Since its inception, the European project has had a future-oriented, teleological rhetoric, all about what will come to pass one fine day, as we reach some ideal finalité européenne. These habits die hard. Driving through Hannover recently, I saw a Green party poster for the European elections that declared “Europe is not perfect – but it’s a damned good start”. Pause to think for a moment, and you realise how odd this is. After all, we don’t say “Britain is not perfect, but it’s a damned good start”. Nor do most 74-year-olds say “my life is not perfect, but it’s a good start”. The European Union today, like Germany or France or Britain, is a mature political entity, which does not need to derive its legitimacy from some utopian future. There is now a realistic, even conservative (with a small c) argument for maintaining what has already been built – which, of course, necessarily also means reforming it. If we merely preserved for the next 30 years today’s EU, at its current levels of freedom, prosperity, security and cooperation, that would already be an astonishing achievement.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Photograph: Alamy

In a long historical perspective, this is the best Europe we have ever had. I challenge you to point to a better one, for the majority of the continent’s countries and individual people. Most Europeans live in liberal democracies that are committed to resolving their differences by all-night meetings in Brussels, not unilateral action, let alone armed force. This European Union is not a country, and will not become one any time soon, but it is much more than just an international organisation. The former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato describes it as an unidentified flying object. It may be short on mystique, on emotional appeal, but it is not lacking that entirely. The heart can lift to see European flags fluttering beside national ones, and certainly to the strains of the European anthem, Beethoven’s setting of the Ode to Joy.

For everyone who is a citizen of an EU member state, this is a continent where you can wake up on a Friday morning, decide to take a budget airline flight to the other end of the continent, meet someone you like, settle down to study, work and live there, all the time enjoying the rights of a European citizen in one and the same legal, economic and political community. All this you appreciate most, like health, when you are about to lose it. Small wonder that marchers at the huge pro-European demonstration in London on 23 March this year wore T-shirts proclaiming “I am a citizen of Europe”.

So here’s the deepest challenge of this moment: do we really need to lose it all in order to find it again? Born in the depths of European barbarism more than 70 years ago, tipped towards crisis by a hubris born of that liberal triumph 30 years ago, does this project of a better Europe really need to descend all the way down to barbarism again before people mobilise to bring it back up? As personal memories like those that inspired the European passion of Bronisław Geremek fade away, the question is whether collective memory, cultivated by historians, journalists, novelists, statespeople and film-makers, can enable us to learn the lessons of the past without going through it all again ourselves.

Julio thinks we can learn. That is why, having resumed his academic career in Spain, he is now standing in the European elections for a radical, transnational pro-European party called Volt. “The generation that I represent,” he wrote to me in a recent email, “has observed the beginning of the disintegration of the EU, because of the triumph of the Brexit referendum. Imagine exit referendums across the EU in the next 10 or 20 years the EU could easily be dismantled … So nothing will stand if we don’t defend what we have achieved after so many generations of sacrifice.”


References

Artis, M. J., (1991) "One Market, One Money: An Evaluation of the Potential Benefits and Costs of Forming an Economic and Monetary Union ", Open Economies Review 2 , 315-321.

------------------------------ , and W. Zhang (1998) "The Linkage of Interest Rates within the

EMS" Weltwirtschaftliche Archiv , vol 132(1), pp. 117-132.

Buiter, W., (2000) "Optimal Currency Areas: Why Does the Exchange Rate Regime Matter", Centre for Economic Policy research (CEPR), Discussion Paper Series No. 2366.

Corden, W. M., (1972) "Monetary Integration, Essays in International Finance," International Finance Section No. 93, Princeton University , Department of Economics.

De Grauwe, P., (2000) " Economics of Monetary Union ", Oxford University Press, Fourth Edition.

Eichengreen, B., (1990) "One Money for Europe ? Lessons from The U. S. Currency Union," Economic Policy: a European Forum , Vol. 5, No. 1 (April 1990a) pp.118- 187.

---------------------------- , (1990) "Is Europe an Optimum Currency Area?" CEPR Discussion

Paper No. 478. London : Centre for Economic Policy Research , (November 1990b).

Emerson, M., D, Michel Aujean, Michel Catinat, Philippe Goybet, and Alexis Jacquemin., (1988) " The Economics of 1992: The EC Commission's Assessment of the Economic Effects of Completing the Internal Market ", New York : Oxford University Press, 1988.

European Central Bank, (1999) "The stability-oriented monetary policy strategy of the Eurosystem". ECB Monthly bulletin, January 1999 issue .

European Central Bank, (1999) "Euro area monetary aggregates and their role in the Eurosystem's monetary policy strategy". ECB Monthly Bulletin, February 1999 issue .

European Central Bank, (2000) "The two pillars of the ECB's monetary policy strategy", ECB Monthly Bulletin, November 2000 issue.

Frankel, J. A and David Romer, (1999) "Does Trade Cause Growth?", American Economic Review , 89(3), 379-399.

Ishiyama, I. , (1975) "The Theory of Optimum Currency Areas: A Survey", Staff Papers, International Monetary Fund , 22, 344-383.

Issing, O., (1996) " Europe : Political Union Through Common Money?", The Institute of Economic Affairs .

-----------------------. (2000) " Europe : common money - political union?" IEA Economic

Affairs , March 2000.

Kenen, P.B. (1969) "The Optimum Currency Area: An Eclectic View", In Mundell and Swoboda, (eds.), Monetary Problems of the International Economy, Chicago : University of Chicago Press .

Mundell, R. A., (1961) "A Theory of Optimum Currency Areas", American Economic Review , Vol. 51 (1961), pp. 657-665.

OECD (1999) "EMU: Facts, Challenges and Policies", Organisation for Economic Co­ operation and Development , Paris , France .

Padoa-Schioppa, Tommaso (2001), "The European Union and the Nation State" (The Hume Lecture 2000), Hume Occasional Paper No. 58, The David Hume Institute.

Tavlas, G. S., (1993) "The 'New' Theory of Optimum Currency Areas", The World Economy , 1993, 663-685.

Viñals, José (2000) "Monetary Policy in a Low Inflation Environment," presented at the First ECB Central Banking Conference "Why Price Stability?" in Frankfurt , November 2-3 2000 .

[1] The stability of the denarius was ensured by the natural scarcity of money. When subsequent emperors started debasing the currency, its general acceptance began to fade.

[2] See "Europäische Unionsbewegungen" by Anton Zottmann in Handwörterbuch der Sozial-wissenschaften, volume three, Tübingen 1961.

[3] A very detailed account, and an empirical assessment, of the economic effects of completing the single market is given by Emerson et al. (1988).

[4] Economic integration is by no means easy to describe and/or assess. It is occurring as a result of market forces, blurring the separation between national jurisdictions, and an ongoing legislative and institutional process promoting economic integration through actions at the Community level, by the Commission, or other agencies of the Community, such as the European Court of Justice. These actions are leading to continuing modifications and a harmonisation of the existing legislation, the removal of elements of national legislation restricting the "four freedoms", and fiscal harmonisation.

[5] See, inter alia, the EMI's 1998 Convergence Report, OECD (1999), the EU Commission's "One Market, One Money" (1990), Ishiyama (1985), Tavlas (1993), Corden (1993), De Grauwe (2000), Masson and Taylor (1991), Artis (1991), Eichengreen (1990), Buiter (2000), and Portes (1999).

[6] For example, there is still little market competition and downward rigidity in several sectors, particularly those with a high concentration of state-owned enterprises or of former state monopolies.

[7] A panel of experts set up by the EU Commission in 1996 attributes low labour mobility also to a combination of institutional and administrative factors, including the limited cross-border portability of social protection and supplementary pension rights, administrative difficulties and high fees to gain legal resident status, the lack of comparability and reciprocal recognition of professional qualifications and restrictions on public sector employment. The OECD (1999) examines various other determinants of low labour mobility.


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