The Crisis of the European Union: Causes and Significance

Dispatches recommended by Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic – an excerpt:

The second reason for European economic problems—not specifically European, but worse in Europe then elsewhere—has to do with the quality, productivity and efficiency of its economic and social system. Europe is characterized by a seemingly people-friendly, non-demanding, paternalistic and—in consequence—insufficiently productive economic and social system called die soziale Markwirtschaft, or social democracy. This system, with its generous social benefits, weakened motivation, shortened working hours, prolonged years of study, lowered retirement ages, diminished the supply of labor—both at the macro level and structurally—and led to very slow economic growth.


Europeans today prefer leisure to performance, security to risk-taking, paternalism to free markets, collectivism and group entitlements to individualism. They have always been more risk-averse than Americans, but the difference continues to grow. Economic freedom has a very low priority here. It seems that Europeans are not interested in capitalism and free markets and do not understand that their current behavior undermines the very institutions that made their past success possible. They are eager to defend their non-economic freedoms—the easiness, looseness, laxity and permissiveness of modern or post-modern European society—but when it comes to their economic freedoms, they are quite indifferent.

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