Empire Europe, Mercantile Power

By July 12, 2007Trade

Europe appears to be girding itself, developing a continental policy of melding government to business in pursuit of a global competitive advantage.

David Charter in The London Times, reporting from Strasbourg:

Britain was told yesterday that it was part of a new European empire — by the Brussels bureaucrat who would be emperor. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said that all 27 EU members should be proud of their unique union. “At least we in the Commission are proud of it.”

colbert.gifWolfgang Münchau writing in The Financial Times on Nicolas Sarkozy and recent constitutional machinations, “The madness of Europe’s drift to mercantalism”:

The French president managed to get his colleagues to agree to an amendment of Article 2 of the old Constitutional Treaty, which said: “The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, and an internal market where competition is free and undistorted.” The new treaty drops the final part, and inserts the statement that “the Union shall establish a single market” in a subsequent clause. Sustainable development, based on balanced economic growth – whatever that may mean – is still an official goal. Free and undistorted competition is no longer. This is insane….

Münchau detects the return of the “warped ideas” of Jean-Baptise Colbert, the 17th-century mercantilist.

The revival of Colbertism suggests fewer market freedoms, less competition, more economic nationalism and trade protection, exchange rates managed by politicians, and a macroeconomic policy based on short-sighted goals.

As Europe organizes its economy and polity in pursuit of mercantile dominance, how does Congress respond? By putting U.S. domestic energy resources off limits, by threatening tax increases as Europe cuts taxes, by inaction on legal reforms that could rationalize the U.S. civil justice system, by stalling on trade agreements that would strengthen U.S. exports….by making us less and less competitive.

Europe’s drift to madness? Well, as Colbert might have said, c’est une folie à deux.

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