The advocates of closer European union have suffered a serious setback. It is, of course, not the end of Europe, but it is the end of certain delusions about Europe's future and its place in the world. Somehow a way will be found out from the present impasse. The reflections that follow were written before the French and Dutch referendum and the terrorist attacks in London; they deal not with constitutional questions of procedure and organization for which eventually solutions might be found but with deeper, long-term issues for ' which no answers are in sight at the present time.
There is a strange paradox: During the last few years a whole series of books has been published in the United States arguing that the twenty-first will be the European century. As Don Quichote rightly noted upon inspecting a library, it is not necessary to read every book In order to get the message. The message is that, at long last, Europe has emerged as one of the most important players in world affairs, and that the future belongs to a united Europe, whereas America is falling behind in most respects. America is trapped in the past whereas Europe stands with two feet in the future.
It is a paradox because one would look in vain for many such books published in Europe where bestsellers abound with titles such as The Fall of France or Can Germany Still Be Saved The End of the Welfare State, or the Methusalem Plot—referring to the graying of Germany and the continent. And. after the recent referendum in France and the Netherlands there has been general dejection.
It would be excellent if, as we are told, a united Europe had a brilliant future and will be tomorrow's superpower. It would be more than welcome for a variety of reasons: after the disasters and the internecine wars during the first part of the last century, peaceful European societies have emerged which in many respects could serve as models for the rest of the world. The Eurosphere, according to some analysts, will be not only the world's most exclusive club but also the world's great peacemaker, the champion of humanitarian intervention. It will lead by example, with the law as its main foreign policy tool, and the transformative power of the law will be tremendous. Europe will not run the world as an empire but the European way of doing things will become the world's way. These are truly breathtaking perspectives and one wishes one could say "Amen" in good conscience.
Europe's contribution to world civilization is greater than that of any other continent. One need not take all of the claims at face value—of Europe's 'dedication to reaffirming the life instinct," of Europeans working to live rather than living to work, of 95 percent of Europeans putting help to others on top of their priorities, of the moral high ground they occupy, of their devotion to peace and multiculturalism (the polls, alas, show the opposite). One should eschew constant comparisons: A recent reviewer of this literature (Prof. Tony Judt) has noted that America is an excellent place to be rich. This is quite true, but then he seems not to have been back for some time to his native London.
These reflections are not about America but about Europe. Few will find fault with the proposition that having been for many decades a passive onlooker, a united Europe should take at long last an active role in world politics commensurate not only with its economic strength and its political experience. The world of tomorrow will be a dangerous place and if indeed (as one author says in the title of his book) the end of American supremacy is near, it would be reassuring to know that there will be a new democratic superpower to which the torch can be passed on. There is no gainsaying that the United States faces great problems, domestically as well as in its foreign policy, and the prospect of having the chance of a "time out" will appeal to many. To be the only superpower is not a healthy situation and possibly not sustainable in the long run. America will need allies and seen also in this perspective a strong Europe need not be a feared rival but could be a trusted ally.
However, Euro-optimists have not only greatly underrated the opposition against the Europe they envisage, more importantly, among those writing about Europe's vision of the future and how it quietly eclipses the American Dream, there seem to be no demographers. The authors are stronger on visions than on facts and figures and the question of what Europe will be like a few decades hence is not among those preoccupying them.
But it is an important issue. According to the United Nations Population Division, almost 21 percent of the population of the globe lived in Europe in the year 1900. Today less than 12 percent do and according to their projections it will be less than 7 percent by 2050, less than 4 percent by the end of the century.
According to these projections the population of Germany, 82 million at present, will count 32 million by the end of the century, the population of Italy will have shrunk from 57 million to 15 million, and the population of Spain will decline from 40 million to 11.9.million. The decline in Eastern Europe is even more dramatic. Up to 2050, the Ukraine will shrink by 43 percent, Bulgaria by 34 percent, the Baltic countries by about 25 percent, and the same is expected with regard to the Russian Federation. By the end of the century, Yemen will have a larger population than Russia. The situation of Poland, the Czech Republic. Hungary and other East European countries will be slightly better; they will shrink by only 17-18 percent. By 2040, or possibly even before, the United States will overtake Europe as far as population figures are concerned. (The median age in the U.S. will be thirty by that time, in Europe it will be nearer sixty.)
By 2050. both Nigeria and Pakistan might overtake the Europe of the 15—meaning the European Union as it was before the recent admission of East European countries. In 2050. both Iran and Turkey will each have a population as big as France and England taken together, Egypt's population will be as large as that of France. Italy, and Spain taken together. Ethiopia and the Congo will each have as many inhabitants as Germany, France, and Britain taken together. In brief, the dimensions on the world's stage are going to change, slowly at first, but rapidly and dramatically later on. Is it possible that a continent with small and shrinking human resources (and one that is over-aged at that) will dominate the twenty-first century?
One can envisage the emergence and maintenance of decent, humane societies with a high quality of life in countries that are not overpopulated. Armed conflicts "-between such countries become most unlikely. This would be ideally a continent of Norways and Finlands, countries that range highest in the lists of human rights. Could it be a superpower except in the field of human rights?
A critical survey of demographic predictions in the last one hundred years shows that they have been remarkably accurate. To give but one example—the United Nations provided in 1958 a projection for the world population in the year 2000; it was mistaken, but only by less than 2 percent. The same is true with most other predictions by professional demographers, a craft that has become far more refined over the years. There were a few exceptions—when, for instance, the Club of Rome some thirty years ago greatly exaggerated the future birthrate for Southern Europe. Over a hundred years ago, H.G. Wells greatly overestimated the future growth of London; in fact, the population of the British capital has been shrinking with up to 100.000 people annually moving out of it. But these mistakes were few and they almost always consisted in overestimating population growth; they virtually never erred in overrating the decline in the birthrate.
It is difficult to think of factors that could affect the absolute decline of the population of Europe—some very strong religious impulse perhaps with the emphasis on the biblical injunction (Genesis 1:28) to produce big families. But the European birthrate has been falling for at least 150 years; it is not subject to sudden fluctuations except those of short duration such as the baby boom after World War II. Totalitarian dictatorships such as those of Hitler and Stalin tried to increase the birthrate through a system of rewards ("natalist policies") for couples producing more than two children and taxation on childless couples, but without any substantial, lasting effect.
It is true that the birthrate has been declining not only in the developed countries but also the developing, where over the last fifty years it almost halved from 6.2 to 3.1. But this has been taken into account by the demographers. Perhaps there will be a steep decline in the third world birthrate, as the economic situation in Asia and Africa improves, or as the result of some unforeseen disasters. But this cannot be taken for granted. And even if there will be a further significant decline in the birthrate of the developing countries, this will not have a great impact until well into the second half of the twenty-first century because of the numerical strength at present of the young and youngest generation in the Third World.
But, the shrinking of the population of the European countries is only part of the story and perhaps the less important part. The Europe of 2050 will be an over-age continent. To take Germany as an example: At present, it counts 45 million aged between twenty and sixty, but according to the projections, this number will have declined to 30 million in 2050 and to 20 million in 2100 even if immigration continues at the present rate. To keep its economy going, to keep its social safety net (the welfare state) functioning it will desperately need help and this will have to come from abroad. It will need immigration at a level higher than today—at a time when opposition against immigration has been sharply growing in all European countries.
It is possible that trends that cannot be foreseen in detail will make this problem less acute than it appears today. As a result of technological progress man and womanpower might be less crucial a factor than today for the economy. But this will hardly affect the service sector of the economy in which robots are bound to play a much lesser role. It is quite likely that as a result of progress in medicine and genetic engineering people will live longer, perhaps by a decade or two. This will mean not only a graying of the general population, fewer young people, and many more over sixty; it also means (assuming that the process of aging is understood) a longer productive life for people.
But, even, according to the most optimistic scenario, European societies will depend to a large degree on further immigration. Where will these immigrants come from? At the present time the majority comes from North Africa and the Middle East with sizable groups from Africa and certain Asian countries. There is also a certain amount of immigration from Eastern Europe such as Poland and Ukraine. But this in the years to come will be no more than a trickle, because of the increasing depopulation of Eastern Europe.
This leaves the Muslim world and in some cases South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Immigration into Europe from these parts has proceeded for more than two decades and it has created serious political and social problems about which little or nothing can be found in the new literature about Europe's excellent prospects. For while Europe needs a qualified work force, only certain ethnic groups (such as the Indians and the Sri Lankans in Britain and elsewhere, the Cypriots in the UK. the Sikhs, the émigré Iranians. Iraqis, and the Palestinians in the United States) have such skills and are doing well, whereas others, ill educated and mostly of rural origin, have shown neither the wish to integrate nor the aptitude to do so. They constitute the new underclass; a high percentage, especially of the young, are unemployed, many exist on social security payments.
Unemployment among the young generation of immigrants amounts to 25-30 percent in Germany, to 30-40 percent in France and Belgium or even more, and the prospects of finding employment are small even if the economy should pick up. For they do not have the skills needed—in Berlin 70 percent of children of Turkish descent (the greatest minority group by far in the German capital) do not finish school. They will not go on to university, or find good jobs in any field; at best they will work for an uncle keeping a grocery store, equally likely they will join the mass of the unemployed bitterly complaining about racialism and discrimination. This will be the reservoir of recruits for the radical Islamist preachers.
The birthrate among the new immigrants, especially those from the Muslim countries and from Africa, is
much higher than that of native Europeans. If one child out of four born now in Germany is now of foreign origin, it will be one in three in ten or fifteen years. For some countries such as France figures are kept secret for political reasons, but secrecy will not solve the problem. These are not projections but present time figures; about 30-40 percent of young people under eighteen in West German cities like Cologne or Duisburg, in large sections of Hamburg (Altona and Harburg) and Frankfurt (the inner city) are of foreign origin. And the same applies to many other cities in West Germany, in Holland, and also in France and Belgium (Anderlecht and the Monlenbeek in Brussels). These are the figures for Rotterdam and Marseilles and many other cities in Western Europe.
This means that in many big cities of Europe the "natives" will be in a minority within the lifetime of the generation, which now attends school and university—except in the age group of the very old. And in - the middle of the century, perhaps a little later, the natives could be in a minority in their homelands.
This process could be delayed, but not by much, if immigration into Europe were stopped or radically reduced. but this would create problems of another kind. Europeans may prefer a declining living standard and even cuts in social benefits to the political, social, and cultural stresses caused by further substantial immigration. But, on the other hand, the exodus from Europe should not be ignored. In some Western European countries, up to 30 percent of the young generation is talking about their desire to emigrate. This figure should not, perhaps, be taken too seriously because most of them will in the end stay at home. But there is a growing number of Europeans feeling ill at ease in their native countries and leaving; they include some of the most gifted and enterprising young people in business, in the academic world, and in other fields. Surprisingly, this seems to be true even with regard to countries from which in the past there was little if any emigration, such as France.
Many ecologists will welcome a population decline. hoping that it will spread to other continents. For global resources being finite, fewer people will mean that these resources will last longer and not be wasted, that nature will be preserved, and that, generally speaking, the quality of life will improve. Some of these arguments may well be true but given the demographic trends, what kind of Europe, what sort of societies will emerge a few decades from now?
The Emergence of the New Europe
To find an answer we do not have to rely entirely on speculation, because a walk (or perhaps a bus ride)through certain quarters of Europe's major cities offers a good preview of the shape of things to come. An excellent starting point would be Neukoelln or Prenzlauer Berg in the center of Berlin, or St. Denis in the Paris banlieue. once a Communist stronghold, or Vaulx en Velin in Lyon, or de Kolenkit in Amsterdam. In London, the curious visitor should stroll along Edgware road beginning at Marble Arch, or if he wants to venture further afield he might take a bus to Lambeth or Lewisham or Tower Hamlets. There are other parts of London in which foreign born constitute the majority; Brent is predominantly South Asian and Peckham mainly African. A visit to Luton or Birmingham could also be rewarding.
These parts offer much of interest and the guidebooks now recommend their gastronomic delights. The sounds of Cairo (minus the architecture) and the sights and smells of Karachi and Dacca can be found in these areas. A few of these quarters will strike the visitor as threatening but many are quite charmingly exotic, the women in black in their hijabs, the halal butchers, the kebab palaces, the kuskus eating places enriching the menu of the native restaurants, the Aladin Cafes, the Marhaba mini-markets. The visitor will be offered fattoush and falafel, and he will soon realize that Mecca Cola replaces Coca Cola in these parts. Many of the placards and inscriptions are in languages and alphabets he cannot read and the newspaper corner shops sell predominantly Arab, Turkish, Bengali, and Urdu language newspapers. The visitor will pass by many mosques (Birmingham reportedly has now more mosques than churches—the churches are bigger but much emptier), as well as Near Eastern and Asian cultural and social centers. There are bookshops on the way selling religious treatises but also, sometimes under the counter, political literature considered by the infidels aas hate-literature. All this is a far cry from what these quarters used to be like in 1950s and 1960s. These were British (or French or German) working-class neighborhoods, but the locals have moved out. They certainly have become more colorful, and the old monotony has been broken.
Such visits are an educational experience but the important thing to bear in mind is, of course, that folk-loristic interest quite apart, these quarters are spreading rapidly. Within a generation they will cover much of what is at present still Berlin. London, Paris and the other big cities, a gradual process that can be observed. for instance, in the Tiergarten section in Berlin or in Moabit.
There will be further great changes within the next generation. But why assume that the changes will be one-sided, affect only the natives and not the newcom-
ers? Perhaps the women will opt for colors other than black: perhaps the hijab will be dropped or reduced to something symbolical? Perhaps couscous will give way to fish and chips or bockwurst (and if it does not— what harm will be done?). Perhaps mosque attendance will drop like church attendance did in Western Europe? Is the attractive power of the European way of life so small that it will be overwhelmed by foreign customs and habits? Is it not likely that the new immigrants stick to their old ways, imported from Anatolia or North African or Pakistani villages, precisely because they are a minority, wishing to keep their identity and that once they no longer feel under siege but constitute the majority, their societies will open up to outside influences?
A hundred years ago, a visit to Commercial Road, Whitechapel, in London, or the Grenadierstrasse in Berlin or Belleville and the Marais in Paris (or New York's Lower East Side) would have shown an aesthetically displeasing scenery in many ways not dissimilar—the Jewish immigrants in their new European or American surroundings: The little synagogues, the cheap eating places, the foreign language newspapers, the sweat shops in which many worked, the men and women in strange, outlandish clothes.
But there are differences. There is, to begin with, the scale of immigration: Only tens of thousands of Jews came to Europe at the time, not millions. They made great efforts to integrate socially and culturally; above all, they wanted to give their children a good secular education at almost any price; the rate of intermarriage was high within one generation and even higher within two. They entered trade and the professions and their social rise was quick and remarkable. They made a significant contribution to the cultural and scientific life of their new home countries. A few of them strove to maintain the old way of life of the East European shtetl, but the majority wanted assimilation and acculturation.
Many of the immigrants of 2005 live in societies wholly separate from those of the host countries. This is true for big cities and small. They have no German or French or British friends, they do not meet them, very often they do not speak their language. Their preachers tell them that their values and traditions are greatly superior to those of the infidels and that any close contact with them, even their neighbors, is undesirable.
Their young people complain about being victims and being excluded, but their social and cultural ghettoization is mostly voluntary. West European governments are often criticized for not having done more to integrate these new citizens. This is true, but even if hey had done much more, integration would still have failed, because it is not wanted and integration is not a one-sided affair. Many immigrants do not want to participate actively in the life of their country of adoption beyond the possession of a passport. They do not identify with their new homeland. If asked, you are told that they do not want to become British or French or German or Dutch; they are Muslims (or Turks, Nigerians, or whatever) living in Britain, France or Germany. They get their politics, religion, and culture from Arab and Turkish television channels. They may identify on a local level, rooting for a hometown soccer club such as Liverpool or Hertha BSC in Berlin. But if France is playing Algeria or Morocco, the boys from the banlieue will boo the Marseillaise and applaud the North African team.
Immigrants to Europe have come from many parts of Africa and Asia and what is true for some communi-ties does not apply to others. Mention has been made of, the fact that Indians in Western Europe have been doing remarkably well. Lakshmi Mittal, an Indian steel tycoon, is now the richest individual in the United Kingdom: he paid $128 million the other day for his new home in London. A walk along Harley street in the British capital where many of the most prestigious private medical practices are found, shows a high percentage of South Asian names. Indians are prominently and frequently represented in scientific institutions and committees. Children from Indian families have been doing better on the average in English schools than the British children, and those from the Far East have been doing better yet. But other sections have been doing much worse and they constitute the new underclass.
The present ghettos will probably not last forever and a social and cultural opening of sorts may well be inevitable, but it is bound to take a long, long time. And one suspects what will have the greatest attraction for the unemployed young men will not be the noble dreams of Europe, human rights, tolerance, and the other sterling features of European humanism described in the new American literature initially mentioned, but the negative, sleazy side of Western mass culture, the ugly and worthless fashions. They will be fluent in the local languages but the cultural values will still have no meaning for them, except perhaps in the very long range.
There has been an interesting study of scholastic achievement in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries (the PISA study), which shows that Finland has been scoring consistently higher than countries such as Germany and France. There is no genetic explanation; Finns are not innately more intelligent than other Europeans. In the
assessment of educational achievement, a great many factors come in—such as socioeconomic; children from poor families score lower than those from middle-class backgrounds. If the only book found at home is the Koran. the motivation to read will not be great. It also depends on how much priority the state gives to education (but France invests more in education than most others and the results are still disappointing). It is easier to maintain a high level in smaller countries than in big ones.
But it is also true that Finland has hardly any children from immigrant families, except a handful of Somalis whose arrival caused locally an inordinate deal of concern. Neighboring Sweden, on the other hand, scoring considerably lower than Finland has a significant number of young immigrants, and it is pointless to dismiss this as irrelevant as some have done. Indian pupils..in British schools have been doing twice as well as those from a Pakistani background, and the number of African-Caribbean students expelled from these schools is about five times as high as those from other backgrounds. Is it only because the Indians come from a somewhat higher socioeconomic background?
French educators freely admit that integration has broken down, that many of the students from immigrant families have not acquired basic literary skills, and the same is true with regard to Germany. A few make it to university but their number is declining, not rising. If these facts are spelled out, this is called racism; if one pretends not to notice them (the policy of color blindness practiced until recently in France) this is considered neglect of the special situation of immigrant children and thus also racialism.
For the time being, voluntary seclusion in the European big city ghettos is maintained without great difficulty, except that they are getting so large that soon they will be ghettos no longer. Intermarriage is quite rare, girls are taken out of school at age fourteen and married off, and young men are sent to their home villages in Anatolia or Pakistan to find a bride. Many Pakistanis in Britain come from certain villages in Azad Kashmir, most Bangladeshis from the Sylhet district, and in their search for brides they go to these ancestral places.
Once they have arrived in Europe, the women are often kept in their homes; they will not meet (and should not meet) outsiders (meaning the natives) except perhaps while shopping, but much of the shopping will be in ethnic shops. Such seclusion is more strict in Germany than in Britain or France; many Turkish women do not know German even after having lived in the country for many years.
The other day a young Kurdish woman was killed in Kreuzberg by young men related to her because "she behaved like a German woman," as they said, in the neighboring school. There is a growing number of young women rebelling against the custom of being married off to older men whom they have never met before. But it is a very slow process; it means cutting themselves off from their family and clan, escaping to another city and indeed another world.
Will Euro Islam prevail in the next generations, the religious-cultural trend which promises to act as a bridge between the cultures? The proponents of Euro-Islam. however, are not many and some, like the renowned Tariq Ramadan, have one version of religion for their enthusiastic and aggressive followers and another, moderate and sanitized, for non-Muslim Europeans willing to believe what they are told- provided it holds out hope for dialog and peaceful coexistence.
It seems unlikely that salvation will come from a new multicultural synthesis—Sayed Qutb and Mawdudi, the spiritual mentors of radical Islamism on one hand, and Kant and Rousseau and the European enlightenment on the other, the legacy of the European left— and the shari'a, European feminism and the orthodox Muslim way of life, European culture and Wahhabism. As long as many Muslims believe that their religion should define their politics, that not the majority decides but the will of God (as interpreted by the preachers) the chances for a consensus on democracy are remote.
We have not even been dealing with the issue of terrorism; some believe that it is merely a consequence of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Israeli-Arab conflict, and that, once these conflicts are resolved or at least defused, this danger is bound to pass. Unfortunately, such simplistic hopes are unlikely to come true; the best realistic case scenario is that terrorism in Europe will continue on a lower level of intensity. But it will not disappear and it will aggravate existing tensions. Others invoke alienation and segregation, deprivation and humiliation, not to mention Islamophobia. everything, in brief, except the real sources of this kind of violence.
The main assignment for the years and decade's to come is not to find a synthesis, which may be forever elusive, but to preserve social peace, and in this respect the experience has not been all negative. Two examples should suffice—Marseilles in France and Leicester in Britain. Are there any lessons to be learned from these cities?
About one-third of the population of Marseilles is North African Muslim: they are concentrated in Le Panier and the north of this Mediterranean port. Marseilles has been traditionally cosmopolitan, open to outside influences. It has been accustomed to accepting
newcomers; there has been a mixed population (including the second largest Jewish community in France) for a long time. There is also said to be a Mafia tradition, which may have contributed to maintaining social peace). It has a leading Imam who is not an aggressive Islamist and a mayor who has tried to help the North Africans wherever he could—but he has also given instructions to the police to stifle unrest on ethnic lines at once and without hesitation.
There have been similar experiences in France, unfortunately not many. Sarcelles outside Paris, mainly North African but also with a sizable Jewish community, used to be something like a show window of ethnic harmony—they elected after all Dominique Strauss-Kahn to the French Parliament—and his rival was a Jew from Morocco. But it is a show window no longer. Leicester is a city of about 350,000 which thirty years ago knew a lot of ethnic strife. It will be the first city in the British islands to have in a few years a 'non-white" majority. But unlike in other cities in the midlands (such as Bradford and Burnley) there have been relatively peaceful relations between the communities in recent years. Is it because the "non-whites" have felt less threatened as their numbers grew? This may have been one of the factors involved, but the decisive issue was no doubt that the great majority of inhabitants of Leicester are of Indian origin. They are less aggressive, more tolerant than some other minorities, and more successful economically. They have risen in the social scale, they have taken an active part in local politics, several mayors and many town counselors have come from their midst.
There is yet another circumstance to be remembered. While Europe undergoes rapid ethnic change, and while it will be even less similar to the Europe we knew in a generation from now, it will be far from monolithic. For the new immigrants have come from a multitude of countries and the term EURABIA coined recently is misleading. Nor is it likely that Western Europe will be an extension of North Africa by the end of the century. Most of the non-German immigrant communities in Germany are Muslim but they are either Turkish or Kurds in their majority, and their relationship with the Arabs or North Africans (or indeed with each other) is not particularly close. They do not speak the same language except if they converse in German.
The question most frequently asked in Europe in recent years has been how to maintain law and order, how to prevent the emergence of aggressive groups mobilizing their members for jihad in foreign countries and at home. This will not be an easy task, there has been some success, for instance, by removing religious-political agitators who, until recently, moved about freely in Western Europe. It is a difficult task and setbacks might be inevitable.
There is yet another, wider problem probably more important in the long run. The preeminent status of Europe in the world has rested to a large extent on its cultural achievements. Skilled workers can be found, albeit with difficulty, from foreign countries. But it is less readily obvious where the European intelligentsia, the Einsteins of 2050 will come from.
What the Europhiles (and not only they) admire about European civilization has grown over centuries. It cannot be imported from North Africa, the Middle East, or even South Asia, nor will a new culture develop over a generation or two or three. And can one be sure that the multicultural civilization that will eventually emerge from Kreuzberg, Tower Hamlet, and the Paris banlieue will be one of tolerance, humanism, and the inherent and inalienable dignity with which (in the words of the European Union) every human being should be treated?
Crisis of the Welfare State
One of the main achievements of the new Europe is the welfare state, and the social safety net that has been provided in Europe, guaranteeing that no one should starve, go without medical attention, and face an old age of dire poverty. This is a source of justified pride, but it so happens that the welfare state all over Europe faces a major crisis with benefits cut. often radically. Not because of any political second thoughts or ideological opposition but simply because governments are no longer able to find the funds needed as a result of the difficult economic situation and the aging structure of the population. America faces similar problems with regard to Medicaid and social security payments, but in Europe the difficulties are much more formidable and more acute. Unemployment benefits are drastically reduced (Hartz 4 in Germany), which leads to a substantial increase in the number of people living below the poverty line.
This adjustment began in Sweden, the welfare state par excellence; it was a painful process and the Swedes no longer belong to the most affluent nations as they once did. But they managed somehow to preserve the essential social services. However, what was possible without major shocks in a small country with an educated public which understood that the cuts were unavoidable, cannot easily be done elsewhere. In Germany and France, there is great resistance against any reform of the system because it means a cut in benefits to which people became accustomed over decades. In Germany, the government made a modest attempt to carry out some unpopular reforms, but suffered great political damage as a result. In France, the government
did not even dare to do this. The number of people eager to perpetuate the status quo is too great and nothing can be done against their will at the present time.
There is a vicious circle, the governments of Germany and particularly of France are too afraid to push through these reforms, even though their economies can no longer afford the expenditure. The national debt is rising, in contravention of the European treaties and this in turn weakens the European Union.
The latest report of the European chambers of commerce says that America is ahead in every respect and making progress more rapidly. According to the same report (March 2005) Europe will achieve American levels per capita income, with luck, in several decades from now and that it will take Europe more than a hundred years to reach U.S. levels of R and D investment. Eurobarometer, which periodically measures the mood of Europe, reports that the citizens of Europe are considerably more pessimistic about their future than the Americans (Bulgaria and Britain being the most optimistic, Germany the most pessimistic). A CIA report looking ahead to the year 2020 ("Mapping the Global Future," published by the National Intelligence Council) states that the European Union could break up within fifteen years as the result of economic decline. The same report also estimates that the Muslim population of Europe will be between 22 percent and 37 percent in the year 2025.
While the optimism of some American authors is wildly off the mark, such Europessimism could also be exaggerated. Generally speaking. Americans have always been more optimistic, sometimes without good reason, than Europeans. The American economy, according to current projections, will probably be about a quarter larger than the European fifteen years hence. But the European Union will still survive beyond 2020; organizations of this kind, once established, have a momentum of their own.
Euroland will in all probability carry out the overdue reforms but only after a majority of its citizens, following a further deterioration in the situation, will have understood lhat this is a question of survival and that belts have to be tightened. America, too. faces great and growing economic problems (last but not least the enormous current account deficit) for which no one at present seems to have a solution. However, the decisive question is not the outcome of the race between Europe and America but the survival of Europe as a major force in world affairs. The question what kind of Europe there will be a generation hence is far more crucial than the economic problems.
European unification has made great progress since the uncertain beginnings after World War II. It has even developed a bureaucratic language of its own for which a dictionary is needed: "abatement" refers to the budget, "passerelle" to voting rules, "cabotage" to transport— "hardcore" and "Scandinavian model" mean not what many may think but something quite different.
But there is considerable resistance among public opinion against political unification and the progress towards a common foreign and defense policy has been glacial. We are told that Europe is now capable to engage in "humanitarian intervention"; it is in a position to send a thousand policemen within thirty days to confront a crisis situation. But for a crisis that can wait four weeks and be solved with a thousand policemen, a European contribution will not be needed.
Europe will have to take a low profile in world affairs. There should be no fantasies about Europe being destined to play a decisive role establishing a new world order based on law in the post-American age. What is one to make of the proposition now widely advanced. that the European democratic example may have a domino effect worldwide, that the vision of the European concept of order and the reach of the European Law is bound to expand? Some may think it a noble dream, but it may equally be considered arrogant and cause resentment outside Europe.
Europe will be preoccupied in the decades to come with its domestic affairs, the reforms which might enable it to preserve the social achievements of the postwar era. It will try to maintain social peace in the face of major demographic change.
Domestically this means, to give a few examples. preventing an anti-immigration backlash or, at the very least, limiting the damage likely to be caused. It implies concessions towards immigrant communities, providing grants for their religious and cultural life (such as practiced in France) in the hope that in this way some control can be maintained and radical agitators excluded. It means finding employment for the young generation of immigrants through various head-start schemes.
Appeasement has its uses as far as moderates" are concerned, but is there any reason to assume (as David Rieff and others have suggested) that "terrorism can be defeated by political compromise and negotiation?" Such assumptions are based on a twofold mistake; terrorism is the contemporary form of violent conflict and since conflict will not disappear from the face of the earth in the foreseeable future nor will terrorism. Furthermore, the basic difference between terrorists and diplomats is that the former are not interested in negotiation and aim at compromise—unless of course, they were defeated earlier on.
There has been in recent years much talk about a common foreign policy and the appointment of an European foreign minister. But what would a European foreign policy be like? Soft power, which has been so much praised, has its limits—and Europe does not have that much soft power either. True, Europe will "remain hard" as the headlines in the media report—but only visa-vis Croatia or Serbia. It will not be in a position to be hard vis-a-vis Russia and China, vis-a-vis the Arab League. and India. It will accept the Iranian nuclear bomb even though it knows that this ultimately means another half dozen countries with weapons of mass destruction.
There is not the necessary internal cohesion and solidarity in Europe, nor is there the political will for an effective common defense and foreign policy. France was very enthusiastic about a united Europe as long as it had reason to believe that it would be able to play the leading role. But these hopes are fading as the base of the EU broadens, and so does French enthusiasm. Anti-Americanism is not enough as a base for a common foreign policy, nor does it guarantee political survival as Chirac and Schroeder have found out.
Germany and France, the heart of Europe, are in real trouble and so is the European Union. They will recover in due time and Europe, in all probability, will not unravel either. But it will certainly not run the twenty-first century; it will play a modest role and there is a danger that in view of its weakness even its undoubted achievements will be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant by the rest of the world. There may be a fresh impetus towards getting its act together at some future date as the result of a clear and present danger.
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING
Ash, Timothy Garton. Free World: America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, New York: Random House, 2004.
Gillinrgham, John. European Integration, Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Demeny, Paul. 2003. "Population Policy Dilemmas in Europe at the Twenty-First Century." Population and Development Review, March 2003.
Coleman, David, (ed) Europe's Population in the I990's. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.