Holman Jenkins writes that the European Parliament – “a dumping ground for has-beens and sinecure for wannabes who aren’t up for political careers of real substance” – has taken to threatening Silicon Valley’s web giants.
What’s really ailing the Continent was best indicated by the accompanying rhetoric. Said German member Evelyne Gebhardt : “European policy makers must directly support European innovation, and particularly new startups, in order to foster their potential.”
If this is the quality of understanding on which its economic future depends, Europe might as well start passing out the euthanasia vouchers right now.
That so many of the Web companies that “dominate the everyday lives of Europeans,” as Ms. Gebhardt frets, originate in the U.S. owes exactly nothing to the U.S. government identifying and fostering the potential of startups.
Google rightly says competition is only a click away: In its short life, Google has seen much of its potential market clicked away by companies whose arrival was unpredictable, such as Yelp, Twitter , Facebook, WhatsApp and an amazingly reinvented Apple.
Contributing next to nothing to this explosion of wealth has been the European Union. Germany and France are the core powers of the EU, the world’s No. 4 and 5 economies. Name a single major Web-era success that emerged from either.
Let’s amend that: These countries do produce cutting-edge entrepreneurs, engineers and creative talents, who can be found by the thousands in the U.S.
Jenkins then wonders why they’re aiming for Silicon Valley instead of Putin’s Gazprom – “a monopoly of the malign textbook definition” – that directly hurts European consumers and is an “instrument of (a) retrograde and militaristic foreign policy.” Back to Jenkins:
A word about innovation: There is little natural constituency for the future in democratic politics, where, by definition, established voting blocs and donor interests and media alliances are those that represent the past. That’s true in foreign policy too. A question has to be asked: Does it make sense for America to be strategically invested in European allies who have so clearly put themselves on an economic, cultural and demographic road to oblivion? It would be sad to write off a continent that has contributed so much to mankind’s advancement, but maybe that’s what the European Parliament is inviting us to do.