Can Science Save Europe?

Whereas China, India, and others have invested heavily in research and innovative capacity, Europe is perceived as being on the brink of decline. Worse still, Europe seems intent on ignoring its strengths, which lie in its science infrastructure, part of the cultural heritage that shapes European identity.

VIENNA– Europe’s current financial squeeze defies easy solutions. Self-inflicted austerity has met popular restlessness for more tangible measures to revive economic growth and create jobs. Protesters vividly express widespread frustration with deepening inequality, and condemnation of privileges of a global financial elite comes uncomfortably close to implicating government.

In previous times, such a situation would have been described as pre-revolutionary. In today’s world, the consequences may seem more benign, but they are no less worrisome: a loss of solidarity, a return to nationalist insularity, and greater scope for political extremism.

Europe’s image has suffered accordingly, notably from the perspective of Asia’s booming economies. Whereas China, India, and others have enjoyed continuing economic growth and investment in research and innovative capacity, Europe is perceived as being on the brink of decline, economically as well as politically. Worse still, Europe also seems intent on ignoring its persistent strengths.

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