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Back to Europa: preocupante baja forma

Santiago Álvarez de Mon, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

Europe: worrying leave

Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:15:16 +0000 Published in Expansion

Without confusing one reality with another, if we were to analyze the European Community from the perspective of an orthodox business management , what would evaluation deserve? After all, Europe competes in the international competition with the USA, China and emerging countries such as Brazil, India, etc... I outline a brief answer based on 3 relevant dimensions.

1. Institutional structure, core topic when it comes to knowing who makes the decisions. At the executive level we have the President of committee, the Belgian Van Rompuy, the President of the Commission, the Portuguese Durao Barroso, and the rotating presidency, this semester in Spanish hands. In the organization chart of a large business, what are the functions of the president, the CEO, the director general? It will depend on each organization, but it is clear that a clear division of tasks is decisive for coordinating efforts. How is power distributed among the 3 presidents referred to? Does the President of the Commission, the body most similar to the national governments of each of the 27 Member States, command? Are you sure? If England, Germany or France show their civil service examination, what can he do, what powers is he invested with? Is Europe a "business" where centralization, i.e. Brussels, reigns, or is there a geographical decentralization in which the countries have a lot to say? What resources does the Union have to transcend the domestic diary of the respective presidents of government? What is the balance between the Executive and the Legislative? What mechanisms does the Parliament have to monitor the Government? Does the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, with a budget superior to that of the US State department , set the common foreign policy and what specific weight does she have? In the face of this cataract of questions, is it risky to conclude that we are witnessing a complex, opaque, slow structure, in which it is easy to hide and dilute responsibilities?

2. Management policies. In the European Parliament there are 726 Members of the European Parliament. How many could you name? What is the profile, training and trajectory of each one of them? They are by far the best paid MEPs in the Old Continent. Even better off are the Commissioners, with incomes of around 15,000 euros per month. In the case of the three presidents, committee, Commission and Parliament, their annual salary is over 300,000 euros. The Community administration gives work to more than 38,000 civil servants, whose salaries range from 2,500 to 16,000 euros. A recent controversy arose because a 3.7% increase was decreed. What is the raison d'être of the Corporate Center, why does it have two sites, Luxembourg and Brussels, how much does it cost, who finances it, sobriety or reckless waste? In the age-old line-staff conflict, what do businesses think of the role of the "Corporation"? Service, information, support, or immense and inoperative bureaucracy? And what about the end customer, the citizens they claim to serve?

3. The most philosophical variable. The corporate culture, the ways of doing things, the habits installed in the organizational psyche, is a powerful differential weapon. Other things can be copied, products, distribution channels, advertising, systems, but the soul of the institution is more elusive and ineffable.

What are the values of business? What are our roots and moral principles? What is the Degree enthusiasm and commitment of the professionals at signature?.... These are questions that sooner or later leave their mark on the bottom line. If, as Sarkozy has done in France, discussion of pitiful poverty, we were to ask what it is to be European, what answer would we find? What ideas, feelings and emotions would such a questionnaire provoke? Indifference, illusion, skepticism, sense of belonging, abulia? Is it possible to speak of a European culture, or is it a chimera imposed with forceps on national or local realities that monopolize our identity?

Are we in a position to compete with the big players in other leagues? Is it a coincidence that Obama relegates Europe to a corner of his diary? He knows perfectly well that Europe, a necessary reality, a noble cause, a liberating dream, a common home, mission statement for statesmen, is not going to dispute the podium, not even the second or the third place, a pity that they are lacking in this critical hour. And, in the meantime, we with records of unemployment and at loggerheads over languages, symbols and territories. Scarce credibility, economic and cultural.