The European Union (EU) - A New Kind of Empire (by Juergen Schmidhuber)

All previous empires grew by conquests through force and violence. But now there seems to be a fundamentally new kind of empire: the European Union. Its hesitant and peaceful growth has been fueled not by imposing its will on its neighbors, but by making them want to join, and accepting them only under certain conditions.

Is the EU really an empire? It has a flag, a directly elected parliament, a huge budget, a powerful bureaucracy, and central laws that supersede national laws of individual EU states. It is expanding, and in size already comparable to the ancient Roman Empire. Sure, Europe is not as dominant as it used to be before World War II, when its economy, science, technology & culture were unrivalled. Nevertheless, as of 2008, the EU still has the world's largest economy, equal to the combined economies of USA & China. The latter are often called the G2 now - Schmidhuber suggests to call the EU the G1 then! The EU also boasts the most Nobel prizes, the most influential composers and artists and architects, the biggest rock bands, the most influential sports, the most Olympic gold medals, the majority of the most livable cities, and a million more trivial records such as the tallest peoples on record (Dutch, Danes, Germans, Norwegians - there is no reliable data available on the Massai and other African tribes), the most Miss Worlds etc. It should be pointed out, however, that many of the criteria above reflect a heavy European bias as Olympics / Nobel prizes / Miss World contests and so forth were all invented in Europe. Expect the current bias to change towards a more Asian bias in the coming decades!

No Emperor! The EUmpire has a little known president but no all-powerful emperor. For example, no single person can make the EU go to war. Instead its decision- making process requires the broad consensus of many. Thus it is more like a giant version of Switzerland, whose individual states also retain a lot of power, with mutually competing tax systems etc. This is not a bug - it is a feature! Despite the numerous flaws of its bureaucracy, and despite the recent failed attempts at establishing an overly complex EU constitution, many feel the EUmpire could offer a more convincing role model to other parts of the world than the more centralized and hierarchical systems implemented by China, USA, Russia, and others.

As of 2008, the USA is the EUmpire's main partner but also its main rival in many fields (see list to the right). China, however, is predicted to surpass both soon in numerous categories.

J. Schmidhuber has a generally positive attitude towards the EU, but he also tends to critisize it a lot. He neither likes its byzantine and wasteful bureaucracy nor the fact that many EU subsidies seem to vanish in obscure channels. He notes that the EU is not a real democracy as long as a single Austrian vote counts as much as two French votes (and even worse disproportions up to a factor of 10 exist within the EU). But he is deeply impressed by the fact that this radically new kind of political structure came into existence at all, despite the long history of conceptually very different European empires founded on military power. In 2009 he tried to find a compact comparison of the EU and other major political entities including historic empires. Since he couldn't find any he made this overview page, apparently the first of its kind.
The European Union - A New Kind of Empire - The EUmpire as of 2008 (by Juergen Schmidhuber)

In Schmidhuber's opinion the next EU constitution draft should fit on a single page, like the Ten Commandments. It should make every EU man and woman share responsibility for the well-being and happiness of everybody else, just like all healthy cells of the human body contribute to the success of the whole.

Many Europeans do not even realize that their EUmpire leads the world in many important categories:

Economy. 2008 nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in trillions of USD (source: CIA Factbook): EU 18.8, US 14.3, Japan 4.8, China 4.2. In purchasing power parity (PPP) the top three are clustered more closely: EU 14.8, US 14.3, China 7.8. But PPP is a rather arbitrary socialist invention that ignores the market's invisible hand, based on the flawed premise that a Big Mac in a polluted third world city is worth as much as a Big Mac in scenic Zurich (where you also can find excellent health care in case the Big Mac makes you sick). GDP per hour worked (USD, PPP, source: OECD Stat Extracts 2009): Norway 72.5, US 54.6, France 53.7, Eurozone 46.6. Exports in trillions of USD (source: World Factbook, 2007): EU 1.7, China 1.5, US 1.4, Japan 0.8.

Nobel Prizes. 1901-2009 rankings based on correct fractions of shared Nobel Prizes - most laureates get only 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 of a prize (source: Nobel Foundation): EU >270, USA >150, Asia >33. Until 1956 Germany (now in the EU) led the rankings (until 1965 if we consider only the laureates' countries of birth; until 1975 if we consider only the sciences).

Olympic Gold Medals 2008: EU 87, China 51, USA 36. (Again EU = China + USA, as for GDP.) More. All time rankings: EU 2440, USA 1008, USSR (participated rarely) 473. More.

Quality of life. The EU includes or surrounds 7 of the world's top 10 (and 18 of the top 30) most livable cities (source: Mercer survey 2009), the countries with the most vacation days (source: CNNMoney, June 2007), 7 of the top 10 (and 4 of the top 5) happiest nations, including the two happiest (1990s average; source: Happiness Foundation), 8 of the 10 richest nations (source: World Bank 2008), including the richest (Luxembourg), which is not the happiest.

Tourism. The EU is by far the biggest global tourist destination - two single EU states (France & Spain) top the 2008 list (source: UNTWO).

The EUmpire is not leading in every category though:

Population. 2008 population in billions: China 1.3, India 1.1, EU 0.5, USA 0.3.

Area. 2008 area in millions of square km: Russia 17.1, Canada 10.0, China 9.6, USA 9.6, Brazil 8.5, Australia 7.7, EU 4.3.

Military power. Numbers of active nuclear warheads (source: FAS Status of World Nuclear Forces 2009): Russia 4800, USA 2600, EU ~500, China ~200. (In 1987 the USSR still had 40,000 warheads; there are enough left to destroy civilization many times over.) Military expenditure in billions (mostly for small conventional conflicts - source: Wikipedia 2009): USA 636, EU 312, China 70. So Russia and the US have more destructive (mostly nuclear) power. Should the EU, a new peaceful kind of empire with lots of constructive power, perhaps more of an anti-empire, worry about this? Has the new millennium brought any evidence that military power is good for those who wield it?

Entertainment. The EU dominates some but not all forms of it:

Sports: Today's most popular sports were all born in Europe (especially in the UK), filling stadia every week all over the world. Football world cup finals are the most watched TV events ever. While many top athletes in these sports are not EU-born, most world champions in Olympic disciplines are.
Literature: Most Nobel laureates & top-selling fiction authors (Christie, Rowling) stem from the EU.
Fine Arts: most top-ranked post-2000 visual artists are EU-based (not to mention 20th century artists led by Spain's Picasso).
Rock & pop world record holders from EU (mostly native English speakers): all time best-selling act (Beatles) & composer (McCartney) & musical (ABBA: Mamma mia). Most successful current band (U2) & tour band (Stones).
Fashion & beauty: Most of the major fashion labels stem from the EU, which also boasts the 3 most valuable supermodels, 4 of the top 5, 9 of the top 12, and 12 of the top 20 (source: BBDO Consulting, 2005).

The EU lags in some fields though:
Movies: Tickets sold (in billions, 2002) for films from: India (Bollywood) 3.6 (often cheaper than Western tickets though), USA (Hollywood) 2.6, EU <1.0. (Sources: Motion Picture Association of America, PWC, FICCI, Business Week.)
Video games: already bigger than the movies; traditionally dominated by Japan (but GTA IV, top game ever as of 2009, is EU-made.)

Copyright notice (2009): Jürgen Schmidhuber will be delighted if you use parts of the data and signed graphics in this web page for educational and non-commercial purposes, including articles for Wikipedia and similar sites, provided you mention the source and provide a link.
EU statistics in Fibonacci web design. Nobel Prizes:1901-2008 rankings (based on correct fractions of shared Nobel Prizes): EU 271.42, USA 145.17, Asia 32.92. Until 1956 Germany (now in the EU) led the rankings. Olympic Gold Medals 2008: EU 87, China 51, USA 36; all time: EU 2440, USA 1008, USSR (participated rarely) 473. Economy 2008 (GDP in trillions of $):  EU 18.8, US 14.3, Japan 4.8, China 4.2. (By Juergen Schmidhuber.)
Text and Fibonacci
web design
by Jürgen Schmidhuber, Member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, Oct-Dec 2009

Selected historic empires of the traditional kind:
Persian Empire. The Achaemenid Empire (6th-4th century BC) included nearly half of humanity, most of the civilized world, and most of the world's economy. No modern empire has come remotely close.
Mongol Empire (14th century). Covered most of the land area known to man. Most dominant military and economic power to arise during the past 2400 years, without any serious rivals.
Roman Empire. Longest- lasting European empire, including nearly 1/3 of humanity. Root of most Western languages. Major innovations in law and administration, less in technology and science, at least when compared to the Greek predecessors. No serious neighboring rivals for centuries, but equals in China.
Greek Empire. Alexander the Great's empire spread Greek technology and culture across much of the known world. The unmatched, lasting impact of the Ancient Greeks, however, had its roots in pre-empire times, when they invented democracy and layed the foundations of Western science & art & philosophy, from formal proofs and sophisticated machines to anatomically perfect sculptures, harmonic music, and organized sports.
Chinese Empires. The world's largest and technologically most advanced economies for most of the past 2000 years, with up to 1/3 or even more of the world's population, producing several of the most important inventions ever, e.g., paper, printing, gun powder & guns & rockets etc. The Han Empire was an equal of the parallel Roman Empire. Tang Dynasty (7th-8th century), Quing Dynasty (17th-19th century) and other dynasties also led the world in many ways.
Arab Empires. Included up to 1/5 of humanity. During the Islamic Golden Age (8th-13th century) the Caliphates were unrivalled in the arts, science and technology.
Indian Empires. Included up to 1/3 of humanity (Maurya empire, 2nd century; Mughal empire, 1700). Fundamental contributions to math and many other fields.
British Empire. 1/4 of the world's population (1922, due to India). With its uninhabited parts possibly even larger than inhabited parts of the Mongol Empire (though smaller relative to the known world). Largest economy for several decades until WW II. Lasting impact through export of its language and the industrial revolution. Serious rivals throughout most of its history.
USA & USSR / Russia. Sometimes also listed among the empires, each with up to 5% of the world's population. Both expanded rapidly, mostly through military conquests, and eventually competed as post WW-II superpowers. In 1957 the USSR started the space age and thus became the first empire to extend its reach beyond earth (ignoring German rockets that reached space in the 1940s but did not stay there). The USA followed soon and put men on the moon.
Nuclear warheads (2008): Russia 8800, USA 5500, EU ~500, China ~300. Military expenditure in billions (mostly for small conventional conflicts): USA 711, EU 312, China 60.  (By Juergen Schmidhuber.)

Was the 20th century the last European century? It was shaped by European inventions & discoveries & ideologies including the internal combustion engine, the car, electricity, modern chemistry, general relativity theory, quantum physics, nuclear energy, Gaussian math, manned flight, helicopters, jetplanes, cruise missiles, germ theory of disease and modern medicine, antibiotics, genetics, DNA, cloned mammals, X-rays, telegraph, phones, radio waves (the principle behind radio, cell phones, wireless comm etc), the first TV patent, cathode ray tubes for TV and computers, the first TV transmissions, the calculator, the computer, practical computer science, theoretical computer science (more), the WWW, psychology, Protestantism, Marxism, Capitalism, Darwinism, and, above all, the population explosion, the 20th century's most outstanding feature.
It seems clear though that the EUmpire won't be able to revive Europe's former dominance - other parts of the world have closed the gap. Presumably the influence of most nations will eventually more or less reflect their population sizes (unless the ongoing robot population explosion can change the game completely - compare the page on converging history). Nevertheless, in many ways a peaceful and decentralized EU can still be a role model in our pesent multipolar world. And who knows, maybe the EU will eventually even evolve into a much bigger Eurasian Union?

Population in billions (2007): EU 0.5, USA 0.3, India 1.1, China 1.3.  (By Juergen Schmidhuber.)