There has been some discussion about European capitalism in the academic literature, but action needs to be taken. For instance, Vivien A. Schmidt, in her 2002 book The Futures of European Capitalism, asserts that European countries’ political-economic policies, practices, and discourses have changed profoundly in response to Europeanization, even more so in response to globalization. National policies may now be more similar, especially when they follow standard European guidelines, but they are not the same.  National practices, although moving in the same general direction towards more excellent market orientation, continue to be distinguishable into not just one or even two but three varieties, according to Vivien Schmidt. Economic adjustment comes in various disguises.

The advent of the Euro and the intensification of globalization, which can no longer be reduced to the innovation of the US economy, require policymakers to consider how to forge European capitalism.

An action plan on how to forge European capitalism could be something like this:

  • Define the concept and goals of European capitalism, considering the diversity and complexity of the European economic and political landscape, as well as the challenges and opportunities posed by globalization, digitalization, and environmental issues.
  • Identify the expected value and principles that underpin European capitalism, such as democracy, human rights, social justice, innovation, competitiveness, and sustainability.
  • Analyse the existing varieties of capitalism in Europe, such as state-led capitalism in France, market capitalism in Britain, and the social market capitalism in Germany, and asses their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their compatibility and complementarity.
  • Develop a framework and a strategy for enhancing cooperation and coordination among EU members and institutions on key policy areas that affect European capitalism, such as trade, finance, taxation, regulation, innovation, education, social protection, and climate action.
  • Promote a discourse and a narrative that legitimizes and communicates the vision and benefits of European capitalism to the public, the media, the business sector, and other stakeholders, both within and outside Europe.
  • Monitor and evaluate the progress and impact of the action plan on European capitalism, using relevant indicators and benchmarks, and adjust the plan as needed based on feedback and changing circumstances.

This has to be compared to the Great power politics unleashed by the technological revolution, which Glenn Diesen examined in his book Great Power Politics – In the Fourth Industrial Revolution -The Geoeconomics of technological sovereignty. Diesen’s book argues that the fourth industrial revolution will profoundly impact great power politics as states compete for technological independence and innovation. He also suggests that the EU must develop a coherent and strategic approach to geoeconomics and a new ideology that can accommodate the societal transformation of new technologies. The action plan on how to forge European capitalism could draw on Diesen’s analysis and recommendations and address the challenges and opportunities the Eu faces in the global technological competition.

In this regard, a comparison between Diesen’s book and McKinsey’s report Securing Europe’s Competitiveness: Addressing the technology gap is instructive. Diesen’s book and McKinsey’s report highlight the importance and urgency of technology for Europe’s competitiveness, resilience, and sovereignty in the context of the fourth industrial revolution and global geopolitical competition. Moreover, they identify Europe’s gaps and challenges regarding innovation, investment, regulation, and adoption of critical technologies such as AI, data, cloud, cybersecurity, biotechnology, and green technologies.

Disen’s book and McKinsey’s report also offer recommendations and insights on how Europe can address its technology gap and achieve its strategic goals. Hey, both emphasize the need for a coherent and coordinated approach to technology policy at the EU level and a more robust collaboration and alignment among member states, industry and academia, and civil society. They both also suggest some areas where Europe can leverage its strengths and opportunities,  such as its large single market, high-quality human capital, regulatory power, and commitment to sustainability and social justice.

However, Diesen’s book and McKinsey’s report differ in some aspects and perspectives. Diesen’s book adopts a more geopolitical and geoeconomic lens, focusing on how technology affects the balance of power and influence among significant regions and actors worldwide. He also explores technology’s ideological and societal implications for Europe’s identity and values. McKinsey’s report adopts a more business-oriented and sectoral lens, focusing on how technology affects the performance of growth of European companies and industries. He also provides a more granular and quantitative analysis of the costs and benefits of technology for Europe’s economy and society.

I recommend that The European Commission adopt an EU technology policy. The legal basis could be TFEU 173, 179 & 190.

Von der Leyen’s actions as president of the European Commission reflect her vision of a Europe that works for all, with a strong focus on green and digital transitions, social justice, and global leadership. She has launched several initiatives and policies that aim to foster European innovation, competitiveness, and sovereignty in key sectors such as energy, health, data, and artificial intelligence; She has also advocated for a more vital role of the EU in the world, especially in promoting multilateralism, human rights, and democracy. The action plan on how to forge European capitalism could align with von der Leyen’s actions and priorities and support her efforts to achieve a more resilient, sustainable, and fair Europe. A technology policy proper would underpin this effort. Or as Helmut Kohl once said: Bypasses are sometimes through passes in politics.

Christian ILCUS