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What Does Europe Have to Offer?

The world is facing powerful economic headwinds, including the Sino-American rivalry, rapid technological change, population aging, worsening income inequality and deteriorating social mobility, and environmental degradation. Europe can help the world to overcome them. But first, it must clarify which ones, and how.

NEW YORK – At last month’s annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proclaimed that Europe needed to be more assertive in the world. That means “stepping up” in some areas. But exactly which areas? To answer that question, the European Union needs to identify – and convincingly articulate – what it has to offer the rest of the world.

This is easier said than done, particularly at a time of rapidly shifting global power dynamics. The night of von der Leyen’s speech, I put the question to a European business leader and to a former senior public official. Neither had a ready answer.

Representatives of the world’s other major powers would not face the same struggle. The United States is a leader in innovation and technology, and boasts deep and broad financial markets. It also possesses the world’s strongest military, virtually guaranteeing America’s global primacy for the foreseeable future.

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