Thursday, February 03, 2005

European Surprise Ahead

A speech I gave in Prague - at the Microsoft Governments Leaders Forum - has already aroused some comments. While a lot of discussion is focused on the shortcomings of the European economies, I tried to describe some of the profound changes underway, and to describe the relentless competitive pressures now driving change from above as well as below in the different economies.

One of my observations was that we have a remarkably competitive manufacturing industry in Europe, partly as a result of these ongoing changes. The fact that it was an Italian-British helicopter - the US101 - that won the contract to supply the next generation of Marine One helicopters to the Presidents of the United States, in sharp competition with legendary Sikorsky Helicopters, is certainly a sign that there is some talent around. And while nothing is for ever, it must be noted that Airbus has now been receiving more orders for modern airliners than Boeing during a couple of years, and with the A380 is starting to be seen as not only the market but also the technology leader in a field for a couple of decades more or less completely dominated by the US industry.

In more general terms, we see how the European manufacturing industry is selling well across the world. In spite of a euro driven up by a dollar that's falling down, it's registering booming business not the least to the booming economies of East Asia.

But it goes without saying that much more is needed. My point in the Prague speech was that competition is driving change, that we now have a stronger increase in competition in the European economies than anywhere else in the global economy, and that we are starting to see how this changes the economic landscape.