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The keys to Europe’s comeback in tech

Yann Coatanlem and Oliver Coste

Dec 15, 2023

English translation of the article published in Commentaire on 14 December 2023

The keys to Europe’s comeback in tech


(translated from “Tech : quand l’Europe s’éveillera”, by the same authors, published in Commentaire in December 2023)



Yann Coatanlem & Oliver Coste

December 2023


“Technological innovation has become the main battleground of the global playing field, and competition for tech dominance will grow unprecedentedly fierce.”

  Xi Jinping, 2021 [1]



Information and communication technologies ("tech") are in a dire situation in Europe, lagging further and further behind American and Chinese industries. Like coal in the 19th century and oil in the 20th century, tech is an industrial revolution transforming our economies and reshaping geopolitical relations. In a world led for decades by American tech, but where China and soon India are challenging Western technological domination, Europe’s lag in tech is a threat to its standard of living and to its defense and security.

The underlying reasons for this failure have so far not been well understood. National and European action plans follow one another without reversing the trend. This article demonstrates that the prohibitive cost of failure, unique to Europe, hinders investment in risky projects necessary to disruptive innovation, which is central to industrial revolutions like tech today. There lies the cause for Europe’s poor technoligical standing and for its specialization in mature industries dating back to early the 20th century.

However, Europe retains exceptional assets: political stability, legal certainty, infrastructure quality, large markets, educational excellence, governmental will and transparency. This article proposes practical solutions to reduce this prohibitive cost of failure. Such a reform is necessary for Europe to regain the technological advantage it held between 1450 (invention of printing) and the Second World War.


Europe clearly lags the United States and China in terms of R&D


Read in French in Commentaire

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