Europe’s economic challenges and the importance of ideas and innovation

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Series Details No.22, September 2014
Publication Date September 2014
ISSN 1783-2462
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How will we Europeans earn our living in 20 or 30 years' time? And how can it be done, while remaining true to our values of fairness, freedom and solidarity? These fundamental questions predate the financial crisis and will still be with us once we have fully overcome it. Of all the groups in society, business leaders are probably most keenly aware of the challenge posed by globalisation. They have their finger on the pulse of global economic activity and keep alerting me that Europe is losing out. The trade unions, generally more focused on the economy's demand side, regularly call for more (public) investment. Their leadership remains highly committed to Europe but they can sense a rise of Euro-scepticism among their members.

We must, and can bring these two narratives together. Yes, global change is relentless and our societies must adapt, but we can also preserve what makes Europe such a special place: a unique combination of relative prosperity, solidarity, individual freedoms, and security. This challenge was always on the author's mind while President of the European Council.

This article forms part of an issue of Challenge Europe called 'Challenges and new beginnings: Priorities for the EU’s new leadership' as the launch of a new EU institutional cycle 2014-2019 began.

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