Shh - Don't Tell France
Are Europe's states to become the new "laboratories of democracy?" That's exactly what Timothy Garton Ash advocates in today's Guardian:
Yet in socio-economic reform, as in culture, the strength of Europe is precisely its diversity. There is no single, universal solution, whether it be labelled "social" or "liberal". Some countries, like Sweden, do well with a high tax burden and public spending; others do badly. Some, like Estonia, flourish with flat taxes and "liberal" (ie neo-liberal) economic policies; that doesn't mean they'd be good for everyone. What matters is what works for you.
Europe should be like a great experimental laboratory, with countries constantly looking over each other's shoulders and stealing each other's best ideas. That's how Europe became the economic powerhouse of the world in the first place, and that's the only way we will regain our dynamism. In the jargon of contemporary business, this is called "benchmarking". We agree on the goals: higher growth and productivity, more innovation, less unemployment, reduced poverty. We don't all need to get there by the same route.
Sacre bleu! All this time I thought the EU was supposed to be the anti-America.