Can the future be planned?

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Over the past forty years, the overwhelming hold that the concept of the free market has acquired over the management of economic policy has resulted in a complete loss of the prestige previously enjoyed by planning.

It makes no sense to plan for the future if the market is required to determine which line of business will prevail. Moreover, beyond that, decisions are inevitably taken which – always in reaction to market results – will confirm unforeseen directions from which investment and employment opportunities will emerge. No plan – no matter who puts it in place – can successfully predict such developments.

It must be admitted that valid arguments support this approach, especially in the context of a globalization driven by the principles of free exchange.

On the other hand, even in such a framework, whoever runs a business, or a national or continental economy, must choose a compass to guide things. There must be some expectation as to how the circumstances will turn out. A record should be kept of what works well and what does not work well in the “ship” that is being guided. Over a period of, say, five years or more, a targeted list of objectives to be achieved should be available.

OK, let’s not call it a plan. Of course, the future is not “planned” if such a procedure were to be followed. But a coordinated approach to face the future is certainly much needed.

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MILITARY POLICY

French President Macron’s decision to withdraw his country’s troops from Mali will strengthen the focus of the ongoing initiative within the EU which aims to create a common European security and defense policy.

So far, it has been booming because of the support France has always wanted for its military sorties in Africa. There was also the anxiety felt by some Eastern European countries about the pressures they thought they were facing from Russia (real or not) and therefore their need to find support somewhere. And then there were the recent disruptions that Donald Trump designed in relations between Europe and the United States.

Bringing from the table the issues related to the problems posed by the French intervention in Mali – even if new Islamic threats are likely to arise in the Sahel – should clarify the choices the EU faces as it continues to develop its own military policy. The route followed is very dangerous.

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ALPHABET SOUP

When US President Franklin Roosevelt launched his New Deal policy to lift America out of the economic and social stagnation of the 1930s, he set up a wide variety of programs and organizations to manage the sweeping reforms he had in mind.

Each project would have its name abbreviated to the first letter of each word contained in its title. So many abbreviations of the full names of the projects began to appear that soon Roosevelt’s plans were mocked: opponents would claim that he had simply succeeded in concocting “alphabet soup.”

I remembered this recently while taking a look at some of the EU working documents covering old and new projects. To fully understand them, you had to navigate around these abbreviations:

MSSP; ENISA; CSIRT; EC3; DNS; CERT; TLD; TFEU; UE-CyCLONe; SEAE; CRM; PSDC; EASA; EUSPA; NIS; RSB; CEPS; CIF; OES; RIDE UP.

And there were others!

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