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Can small European countries like Greece and Ireland, become Europe's Green Industries?
by Christos Mouzeviris
2011-03-18 07:58:14
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With the recent recession and crisis in EU and the Euro-zone, the two hardest hit members that were forced to get a bail out from the IMF, Greece and Ireland are pondering on solutions and reforms for their economies. Both must please their population that demands such humiliating incident never to happen again. Apart the fact that they need to push for enough reforms that the IMF demands to secure the loan deal, they really must create a plan for the future to make sure that their economies are up to date and fully functioning. They would not like another crisis like that, and I am sure none of their EU partners would (or afford in the case of Germany).

On both cases I read different opinions that these countries should explore Green technology to heal and sustain their future economies. Tourism and Agriculture mixed with the property bubble economy of Ireland obviously can not guarantee a stable economy. So what next for those two countries?While I really applaud such ideas and I am looking forward to watch such developments happening, (not just in Greece and Ireland but in a pan-European level), I am wondering what the reaction of other EU states will be; especially of the “EU heavyweights” France, Germany and Britain.

Imagine if those two nations started producing green energy, green industry for example green cars, how would Germany react to this? Before the Athens Olympic Games, we were presented on national television an electric car made by the Greek Automobile Industry (ELBO) in co-operation with other companies and funding by private investors. It was meant to go on display during the Olympics, but I never heard of it ever again. Obviously it had to be subsided to go onto mass production something that never happened, and I wonder why. Could it be because there was no place for more competition in the European market? Or perhaps the Greek Government did not consider exploring and developing these kinds of new products to diversify the Greek economy with? Who decides which countries can produce heavy industry, the Governments, or the Markets?

During the cold war we used to have in the so called Eastern block, many car manufacturers like the Yugo, Zastava, Dacia and so on, to counterpart the Western block ones. What happened to most of those? They disappeared bit by bit or they were bought off and merged with the larger European companies. So I really do not think that Greece, and especially Ireland could produce any sort of “Green Cars” in the future. Could you imagine the Germans and the British buying electric cars from the Greeks ever? So what kind of “green industry development” are they talking about, and how can this affect our future economies?

Perhaps the plan is to work on producing green energy, exploring the natural resources (wind, sun, sea currents etc) and build an economy of producing and manufacturing the components needed to do this; solar panel manufacturing etc.Can this be done or was it only a plan to reassure the citizens of those two nations? With all major manufacturing companies moving to China or elsewhere with cheaper work force, can any European country set up a new industry from scrap? How do they plan to diversify the Greek and Irish economy then? Will other European countries with already well established industries co-operate and allow the new competition? Can small European countries really compete with much larger ones on this?

In my opinion it sounds a perfect plan, and a long delayed one too. But in reality I do not think it will ever be implemented. I wish all European states agreed to create a united industrial reform, a common policy to develop in all EU states. I do not think that it is realistic anymore to have few countries that hold the majority of the manufacturing industries in Europe, notably Germany, while their partners are left to make ends meet with not so stable or profitable industries like agriculture and tourism. With a common market and one currency in most states, if one economy fails, everybody is affected. And tourism is not a stable economy. It relies on the financial situation of the rich developed countries and their citizens. Agriculture on the other hand needs a lot of subsidizing to make it as profitable so it can sustain a whole economy.

Perhaps it is time to create pan-European manufacturing industries, with many EU nations participating and hosting facilities for exploration, testing, and producing those new “green” goods. It is time to stop thinking on a national level and create a competitive new kind of eco-friendly industrial revolution on a pan-European level. With all EU states participating, creating jobs and opportunities for the citizens of all states, securing jobs for Europeans, promote development and stability throughout the continent and eliminating inequalities. Ireland and Greece do not deserve to go from boom to bust, they deserve a stable economy. They should be treated as equal EU partners and be allowed to invest in other types of economy. It will suit not just them, but the whole EU and European region in the long term, to have them and all small EU member states, thriving and equally competitive as the larger ones.

And imagine what can Europe achieve, if ever truly united, with all its members working together to solve common problems? Right now we act pretty selfishly and think about the economies of our countries only. The recent facts tell us that this is no longer attainable while working on European integration too. Perhaps the solution is to stop companies from moving to China, and redistribute them throughout Europe instead. And have all nations working together, while redesigning the type of energy, cars and lifestyle our future generations will have.

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