The National: The new world is leaving old man Europe behind

National:Europe is used to seeing itself at the centre of the world map. In the view of Europeans, they are the fount of history and the origin of the global empires that shaped the modern world, not least the Middle East. The Eurocentric hubris can be seen today in the summit in Italy of the Group of Eight – of which five members are European – which claims against all the evidence to be the steering committee of the world economy.

The world can be presented in different ways from the traditional map. If you look at weight of population – not history and cultural prestige – then Europe is shrinking to a peninsula on the edge of Asia. A new report, The Power of Numbers, published by Policy Exchange, a British think-tank, casts Europe as the “senescent continent”, whose low birth rate will deprive it of vitality, economic growth and global influence. In short, Europe is destined to be a continent on the golf course.

Europe is not going to disappear, but it will fall way behind in the population stakes. By the middle of the century, there will be a billion more Asians, just under a billion more Africans, 200 million more Latin Americans, 130 million more North Americans – and some 40 million fewer Europeans.

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