The basic problem of the EU is that it started 50 years when all economists were soaked in Keynesianism — that is, that the demand side of the economy was all-important. Never mind supply. It will look after itself.
Accordingly, those retired statesmen — still looking for status — and those very-much-alive senior civil servants who got the EU off the ground were obsessed with the size of the consumer market. Get it as large as America’s, they thought, and Europe can do just as well. Make it larger than America’s — then we can be even more prosperous.
But consumer demand can only act as a trigger at best — and when there’s a product already conceived. For example, the industrial revolution itself started as an 18th century demand by the new middle class — a product of the 1688 Glorious Revolution — for beautiful cotton clothes to wear as status goods in imitation of the silk that the very rich wore. But there was a tariff against the importation of Indian cotton cloth by the wool, linen and home-grown silk industries.
So the women in the villages all over the country started to spin cotton thread from the raw material that could be got from America, and many of their husbands started to make weaving machines to make the cloth. The problem was that one weaver required a dozen spinners to supply him. There was a bottleneck of supply almost immediately
That was the stimulant that got the automated spinning machines going in the mills of Manchester and other northern cities at around 1780. But then they had another problem! The cotton mills could supply so much more cotton yarn than the weavers could cope with. Hence, let’s export the surplus thread! Within a handful of years this country then switched from being a demand economy at home to being a supply economy sending exports abroad.
It was only as a supply economy that huge profits could be made and thus investments afforded in successive industries such as deep-mined coal, railways and a multitude of engineering products — all as domestic demands to start with very briefly but predominantly as supply industries making export goods for countries which previously had had no demand at all because they hadn’t been able to conceive them until they saw England enjoying them.
The EU remains almost totally demand biased today with a blanket 20% tariffs against imports. This cuts out huge quantities and types of foreign products — and thus business intellectuals and thus interchange of ideas. By becoming obsessed with the size of its consumer market the EU has also committed itself into a slowly developing vegetative state.