Europe is living way above its meansEurope is living way above its means
The welfare state is not well — it is more-or-less bankrupt on the continent. Sustaining six-week holidays, social programs galore, labour policies that asphyxiate potential, and shrinking work weeks is never easy, as Europe's fading economies reveal. It is telling that Angela Merkel, leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union and poised to win Germany's fall elections, grew up in East Germany. With any luck, Europeans still in denial will recognize that a successful social welfare state is not alive and well and living in Paris.
The frog and the ox
The most sensible American response to Europe's failure is to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity that is fraught with risks, to be sure, but one that would allow Europe to start down a more sensible path. There are signs that a similar revolution is stirring in Europe. There is a good chance that Mr Chirac will be replaced in 2007 by Nicolas Sarkozy, who claims to be more of a fan of the free market; and an even better chance that Gerhard Schröder will be replaced this September by Angela Merkel, a woman who backed the invasion of Iraq. The shake-up gives America an opportunity to find new friends and collaborators in Europe.