Europe Needs A New “Marshall Plan”

Business, Company Strategy, Economics, Europe


By John Richardson

IT isn’t working. Surely, Europe’s policymakers must realise this?

The trouble is that I worry they still don’t get it, otherwise there would not be plans to print more money in Europe. Resorting to extra quantitative easing isn’t going to rescue Europe’s “lost generation”. More of the wrong kind of European economic stimulus is instead likely to contribute to a new global financial crisis.

Here are some heart breaking facts about this lost generation:

  • Five and a half million people young people are out of work in Europe. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Denmark.
  • With over 50% of youth unemployed in both Spain and Greece, 41% in Italy, and 36% in Portugal, many young southern Europeans, especially well-educated ones, are left with a tough choice: Facing a jobless future at home, or leaving everything behind to find work abroad.
  • “I don’t have any plans. I have seen how little it means to have a plan for life,” says one unemployed young person.
  • And another ominously warns: “Unfortunately, I think change will come the uneasy way and I am afraid that a generation, our generation, will be sacrificed for it.” In a policy vacuum when mainstream politicians do not have the answers, history teaches us that people turn to extreme political parties. This is what is happening in Europe today.

Europe, in effect, needs a new “Marshall Plan”. The Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe’s economy after the Second World War.

Comparing Europe today to the devastation left behind by World War II might well seem like a gross exaggeration, as it bombs and not demographics that kill people and flatten buildings.

But over the long term, demographics are a huge challenge for Europe. Without a shared economic vision on how to deal with the challenges of ageing populations and immigration, the region’s economy can only decline.

This ongoing stagnation explains the chart above. Ethylene consumption in Europe was far lower in 2013 than it was in 2000.

The good news is that Europe’s chemicals industry has a fantastic opportunity to be part of the solution. This is a subject that I shall return to in more depth over the coming days and weeks.


Policymakers Have Failed The World


By John Richardson WHEN the economic, social and political history of 2008-2014 ...

Learn more

So Much For The Bonus From Cheaper Oil


By John Richardson THE big turning point in Asian petrochemicals markets can be ...

Learn more
More posts
Coronavirus, impact on the developing world and the scale of demand losses

By John Richardson ALL OF us are struggling to come to terms with a collapse in the global economy t...

Coronavirus, reshoring and the polyester industry: Good luck with that

By John Richardson POLITICIANS, not just including the Populist variety, are talking a lot about res...

Beware of the fragile nature of the oil and petrochemical price recovery

By John Richardson RECENT rises in oil and petrochemicals prices should not in my view be taken as a...

China petrochemical inventories build on what could be false hopes of a V-shaped rebound

By John Richardson AS PETROCHEMICALS storage space in China fills up on the hope that the country ca...

Further polyethylene rate cuts seem inevitable with no certainty on who will blink first

By John Richardson IT IS NOT just a razor-like focus on petrochemicals demand that will get you thro...

What petrochemical companies must do to adapt to a smaller coronavirus economy

By John Richardson PETROCHEMICAL companies can adapt to the coronavirus New Normal by running their ...

Coronavirus and the way forward: Forecasting micro surges in petrochemicals demand

By John Richardson THE MONTH of May is normally a low season for toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) demand ...

Southeast Asia polyolefins demand may fall by as much as during Asian Financial Crisis

By John Richardson HOW do you replace anywhere between 9% and 18% of GDP when it has virtually disap...


Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more


Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more