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Olympic Games iwd 8. August 2016

Europe? Europe!

For years, the Old Continent has been heading towards a crisis and the economy is losing its international importance – no wonder that European confidence hardly exists anymore. Europeans have at least one reason to be proud, says Axel Plünnecke, Head of the Education, Migration and Innovation Research Unit at the Cologne Institute for Economic Research. For that, they’ll have to see themselves as Europeans – and show good sportsmanship.

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The financial crisis, the debt crisis, the Euro crisis, the refugee crisis – for many Europeans there are fewer reasons than ever before to remove their nationalist lenses and create a political union out of the common market and economic and monetary union – that is, to consolidate the parts to a whole. To the contrary: Britons want to leave the EU, right-wing populists are flirting with similar ideas in other Member States, and some states have even re-erected fences and closed their borders. The world is globalising, but Europe is making itself smaller and smaller.

No guts for the big leap, no vision, no spirit of optimism, no common identity.

Or is there?

Imagine it was not Germany, France, Poland, Luxemburg and all the other EU Member States with their respective teams competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, but rather the EU as a whole. There’s no question who would then be at the top of the medals table – Europe, of course! The serial winner USA would be sent packing, along with sports giants China and Russia – they wouldn’t stand a chance against Europe.

Europeans won twice as many gold medals as the USA in Sydney in 2000 (see infographic) – and Europe was only made up of 15 Member States back then. At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the 27 Member States of Europe took 92 top spots, more than the USA and China combined – even though the two nations, with their 1.6 billion residents, are three times as large as Europe.

And by the way: Even without the British gold medals, the EU would still have easily sauntered to first place.

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