Paul van Gerven is an editor at Bits&Chips.

Leestijd: 3 minuten

If there’s anything good that came out of the Trump presidency, it may be that Europeans have been jolted from their slumber of false security. Europe should become more assertive, politicians all over the continent argue, and take charge of its own destiny. Such pleas invariably include beefed-up support for R&D, technological development and manufacturing. To think it only took a terrible recession and an even worse US president to get that on the agenda!

Among those whose eyes have opened is Dutch Finance Secretary Wopke Hoekstra. “Our continent’s economic engine is stuck in second gear, and we’re investing very little in the economy of the future. Artificial intelligence, big data, nanotechnology and biotech: we’re hardly doing anything in these fields,” the aspiring CDA party leader warned to a Berlin audience last May while delivering the Humboldt Speech on Europe. He argued for an increase in spending on research and technology development, at the expense of agricultural subsidies – quite a controversial stance in his circles.

In August, another Hoekstra proposal surfaced, a national one this time. Reportedly, the nation’s top financial man, nicknamed ‘Dr. No’, wants to take advantage of the sub-zero interest rates to borrow billions of euros and set up an investment fund for scientific and technology research, among many other things.

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