Richard North, 24/06/2004  

When our politicians talk about promoting “innovation”, what they usually mean is more R&D hnadouts (always welcome by the business community as a disguised form of subsidy), more working groups, more bureaucracy, and more spending on education at a time when public coffers are empty and deficit limits are broken.

This sentence comes from an article, entitled Brussels Needs a New Vocabulary of Reform, by Ann Mettler, executive director of the Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based advocacy group in today’s Wall Street Journal Europe.

It is a pity that Ms Mettler’s clear grasp of the symptoms is spoilt by her lack of understanding of the underlying causes. As long as Brussels is to provide the the answers they will consist of working groups, documents, growth plans, innovation platforms, the whole caboodle of bureaucratic structuralism, because that is all Brussels can do.

There is no European problem to which Brussels can provide an answer and there are no European answers. In order to have pan-European solutions, we need pan-European problems and that is what the high panjandrums of the European Union are creating.

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