The Trouble with EuropeBy Roger Bootle
*A BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR AS SELECTED BY THE WEEK* Six decades ago Europe's leaders had a noble dream: to prevent another terrible war, and to act as a beacon of co-operation rather than conflict. The European Economic Community eventually became the European Union, and so began a seemingly inevitable march towards a federal super-state, culminating in the creation of the totemic single currency: the Euro. The European Union is now at a crossroads. Its original objectives, the logic of existing relationships and monetary union, are pushing it towards full political union - some sort of United States of Europe, at least of the Eurozone. In other words, more Europe; deeper integration. But the EU is no longer working well in today's world - let alone tomorrow's. The EU needs fundamental reform, Roger Bootle argues. It was conceived in a world of large blocs, before globalisation and the rise of emerging markets. Its agenda of hamonisation and integration inevitably leads to excessive regulation and the smothering of competition. It hasn't delivered the prosperity and growth it promised. The clearest example of the EU's tortured politics producing poor economic performance is the formation of the Euro, which was undertaken for political reasons intrinsic to the European project. It has turned out to be the problem rather than the solution. What is more, if nothing changes, the EU's share of world GDP is set to fall sharply and, with it, Europe's influence in the world. Leaving the EU would not be pain and risk free, but nor is the only option to stick with the current institutions. It's time to raise the level of debate, examine the options, and tackle the trouble with Europe.