Europe Has Fallen Behind the U.S. and China. Can It Catch Up?

Europe’s share of the global economy is shrinking, and fears are deepening that the continent can no longer keep up with the United States and China.

“We are too small,” said Enrico Letta, a former Italian prime minister who recently delivered a report on the future of the single market to the European Union.

“We are not very ambitious,” Nicolai Tangen, head of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, told The Financial Times. “Americans just work harder.”

“European businesses need to regain self-confidence,” Europe’s association of chambers of commerce declared.

The list of reasons for what has been called the “competitiveness crisis” goes on: The European Union has too many regulations, and its leadership in Brussels has too little power. Financial markets are too fragmented; public and private investments are too low; companies are too small to compete on a global scale.

“Our organization, decision-making and financing are designed for ‘the world of yesterday’ — pre-Covid, pre-Ukraine, pre-conflagration in the Middle East, pre-return of great power rivalry,” said Mario Draghi, a former president of the European Central Bank who is heading a study of Europe’s competitiveness.

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