Revitalizing growth in Europe

After receiving several hundred essay submissions on how to pump life into Europe’s economy, the judges awarded prizes in a McKinsey Global Institute contest.

What reforms does Europe need to restore dynamism to its economy? How could it implement them in a way that would be palatable to the public and politicians alike? The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report A window of opportunity for Europe, published in 2015, included a targeted set of measures to answer that first question, about the what. To address the complex issues of how, we decided to throw the second question open to a much larger global audience by crowdsourcing the answer.

The result was an essay contest: the MGI Opportunity for Europe. Launched in March 2016, it offered a first prize of €60,000 for ideas to translate economic theory into political measures that would both appeal to voters and help restore Europe’s pep. The contest also offered a €25,000 prize for the best submission by an author under the age of 30. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, agreed to serve as contest patron.

By our deadline, July 31, we had received 401 submissions from all over the world. Just under half of them came from outside Europe, and entries by authors under 30 years of age were not only plentiful but also among the best. Overall, the essays touch on a wide range of subjects. Whatever the diagnosis, a common refrain is the belief that Europe currently lacks an imaginative vision or a clear sense of purpose, that its leaders can seem aloof from the daily concerns of ordinary people, and that in a changing world the very idea of Europe no longer inspires or comforts ordinary citizens. “Europeans don’t fear change; they just fear being left behind by it,” as one essayist put it.