Europe’s Flight from Futility

PARIS – In the next 25 years, Europe’s share of the world population and global GDP is expected to fall considerably. Does that mean that a weakened Europe will fall prey to the rising powers of 2040?

Given that Europe’s prospects are highly dependent on external factors, any speculation about its future must account for global conditions. One thing seems certain: although the 2008 global financial crisis exposed dangerous flaws in the free-market system, the market economy appears likely to remain the norm in the coming decades.

Moreover, in view of the difficulty of opting out of international markets, large-scale protectionism is unlikely. But there is little doubt that new regulations – including financial and commercial regulations, as well as social-welfare rules and tax reforms – will include protective measures for some countries and blocs.

At the same time, the need to counter the economic crisis and fight climate change, together with an array of fresh incentives, new directives, and scientific breakthroughs, will lead to substantial progress toward “greening” agriculture, industry, transport, construction, energy, and so on. Indeed, by 2040, environmental standards will become an indicator of an economy’s overall competitiveness.