12 Sep 2019

Hidden Treasures

Mapping Europe’s sources of competitive advantage in doing business

Donald Kalff / Andrea Renda / Willem Pieter De Groen / Karel Lannoo / Felice Simonelli / Nadina Iacob / Jacques Pelkmans

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Europe is often presented as a declining global power, in which red tape, incumbency interests and governance flaws hamper economic performance, innovation and productivity. Part of this can be traced back to the inherent challenge and ambition of the European integration project; but also to external factors, including the rise of the United States as a global superpower during the past century, and the worldwide diffusion of ideas, especially in politics and economics, which were seldom originated in Europe, or tailored to its peculiar legal, economic and social traditions. Until recently, Europe has sought to carve out its model and role in global governance by mimicking many US policy approaches: shareholder capitalism, deregulation and unconstrained movement of capital. As the global community increasingly sees the rise of protectionist stances, and a growing inability to face emerging challenges such as sustainable development and the breath-taking rise of disruptive digital technologies, Europe should look at its best qualities to revamp and reclaim its position in the global order, to the benefit of all. The prospect of Brexit, while certainly not favourable for the Union, paradoxically opens up new opportunities to face emerging challenges with a greater degree of cohesion.

This new book, a joint effort between Donald Kalff and a group of CEPS researchers led by Andrea Renda, aims at identifying and exploring Europe’s ‘hidden treasures’, often neglected competitive advantages that could, if adequately nurtured, return the Old Continent to the forefront of the global order. ‘Hidden treasures’ are a feature of the EU economy, legal system or legal tradition that are being given insufficient attention in EU public policy, and which bear the potential to increase Europe’s competitiveness and overall positioning in the global context. The authors find them in ten policy domains, from contract law to corporate governance, taxation, control of corruption, competition policy, trade, innovation and the EU’s unique approach to governing the digital economy. Uncovering and promoting hidden treasures becomes, as of today, a timely and highly needed exercise, as the EU approaches its post-elections transition, and the global governance context seems to be rapidly changing, shaping a new playing field in which Europe has no obvious allies, and is increasingly challenged by superpowers with different, if not diverging, priorities.