Europe is in a mess. It’s not just Greece that’s up to the hilt in debt. With the exception of Germany and (probably) France, every one of the Eurozone countries is – or is shortly to be – in some sort of financial trouble. Indeed, the people of Germany are now wondering why they have to pay for other countries’ financial profligacy.
As the communications specialist, Richard D Lewis, of Richard Lewis Communications, has pointed out, if we look at the EU as a team, it satisfies few of the criteria that make a high-performing ‘creator’ team, as defined in a seminal article from 2000 – ‘Creating Value with Diverse Teams in Global Management’, by Joseph J. Distefano and Martha C. Maznevski.
Their research showed that ‘creator’ diverse teams are good at (1) mapping (2) bridging and (3) integrating. In Lewis’ opinion:
(1) Europe does not have a clear idea or map of what it is, or what a European is. This is not surprising when even individual countries – Belgium, for example – still struggle with their identities.
(2) It isn’t good at bridging value and communication gulfs. This is frequently at the simple level of communication – for instance the EU meeting where a Brit said to a Dutchman ‘Now correct me if I’m wrong…’ and the Dutchman did; or where the interpreter translated the French delegate’s request for ‘un peu de sagesse de Normandie’ as ‘what we need now is Norman Wisdom’ (the recently-deceased British comedian popular only in the UK and Albania). It is also not so good at building bridges between the EU institutions and the people of Europe.
(3) It is not proving so good at integrating if the Euro-project is anything to go by.
Using Distefano and Maznevski’s definitions, Europe fits better into their category of a ‘destroyer’ team.
Yet the European dream remains a potent one. Imagine the ideal European: diplomatic as a Briton, thorough as a German, logical as a Frenchman, humanistic as a Spaniard, communicative as an Italian, negotiating like a Portuguese, wheeling and dealing like a Greek, humorous as an Irishman, pleasant as a Dane, consensus-seeking as a Swede, compromising as a Belgian, honest as a Dutchman, bustling as a Luxembourger, sophisticated as an Austrian, commonsensical as a Finn, heroic as a Bulgarian, cultured as a Pole, streetwise as a Hungarian, knowledgeable as a Czech, proud as a Slovak, well-organised as a Slovenian, poetic as a Romanian, quietly confident as an Estonian, cool as a Latvian, spirited as a Lithuanian, as full of stamina as a Maltese and savvy as a Cypriot.
Comment: The problem is, it could take a little while to achieve this idealistic reality.