A recent opinion piece on Reuters' website is sure to stimulate thought in readers on both sides of the pond. Pointing to a plethora of economic data, Bernd Debusmann claims that the EU is not only on par, or even ahead of America, in terms of productivity, but that it is a much better place to live as well. Debusmann, notably a German, probably succeeded more in stimuluting a vigorous debate in the comments section than in making a convincing argument himself. The 'best place to live' will always be a subjective measure, and many could use equally compelling statistics to point to American economic supremecy or emphasize the astronomic growth in much of China. The truth is, there are costs and benefits to living anywhere in the world. Everyone values things differently, both in economic and social terms, and this is reflected in their analysis of where to live (assuming they are as lucky as Debusmann in having a choice).
Aside from the great debate over quality of life and which statistics to use in proving economic supremecy, Debusmann addressed one topic that was interesting mostly for how he glossed over it; the Greek debt crisis. The crisis, which becomes more intriguing by the day, has stimulated conversation among Europe's elite as to just what the role of the Union is in its' members affairs, how states are required to act in relation to each other, and what the future of the euro should be after rapid depreciation and wild swings in the currency. It also highlights why there will never be a 'United States of Europe' that an American would identify with his own United States. Not that this is a bad thing. Many Europeans I have met both while in Europe and in the US have expressed support for European integration and its many benefits. However, nearly all of those also express great pride in their own national, or even regional, identities and would be loathe to ever identify themselves as 'European' the way someone from the States identifies themselves as 'American.'
The crisis in Greece will work itself out as these things invariably do. Whether it is ultimately assistance from its' EU neighbors or the international community at large (for example, the G20 has funds available for just this type of situation, a fact highlighted in Prime Minister's Questions this week), the problem will be addressed. Therefore, there is probably no major threat to the EU as an institution based on these recent events. However, it does highlight the lack of a coherent vision as to the EU's role in state affairs, and emphasizes that, despite obvious problems in America, considering the Union the equal of the US in productivity terms is not statistically responsible. Quality of life is another matter entirely, and something that Blawgconomics may be willing to concede some points on, particularly with an extended stay in the heart of the Union forthcoming.