Cosmetic changes will not be enough to provide future generations of Europe with a viable social model, according to Arnaldo Abruzzini, Secretary-General of Eurochambres. Speaking for some 15 million member enterprises in Europe, he claimed in a recent guest editorial for Europe Information that the current model fails to respond to the challenges of 20 million unemployed and an impending pensions crisis.

A spectre is haunting Europe the myth that Europe does not need radical reforms, and that we can continue the European model with just cosmetic changes, since it has proved to be successful for the last 50 years.

Yet the opposite is true. We need radical reforms in fact we need a revolution - a revolution of modernisation, of solidarity with people outside the labour market, a revolution which secures the future of the next generations. If we want the European model to survive, we need to change, and dramatically.

Nobody has ever won a fight against the spirit of the age: not the Luddites' desperate attacks on machinery in the early 19th century; nor the iron curtain which divided Europe in a bid to suffocate democratic movements. Nobody could have stopped industrialisation. No iron curtain would have prevented the collapse of communism. To change with the times means to have a future. To refuse change means to fail. This is the pattern of history.

This is the century of globalisation. Economies like China and India are awakening giants, with growth rates four or five times higher than the EU, low labour costs, and faster progress in the skills of a modern economy, like R&D and IT. What we experience now is a mild breeze. It will become a storm.

We have to choose: either futile resistance, or radical change to an innovative forward-looking strategy. It is understandable that this raises fears. But we should not be afraid of change, but of deadlock and procrastination. Ronald Janssen of the European Trade Union...

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