Laura D'Andrea Tyson's comments in "Why Europe is even more sluggish than the U.S." (Economic Viewpoint, Jan. 13) point out the need for labor- and product-market reforms in Europe to spur economic growth. She also mentions the proposed European Union constitution, designed to shift yet more political power away from individual European countries to concentrate it in EU institutions.
This power grab by well-placed Eurofederalists is taking the spotlight off the reforms each country needs to implement. The applicant countries should be allowed to join the EU and, over the next 10 years, be encouraged as part of a Europewide democratic process to help shape further EU developments. These might or might not result in a new constitution.
In the meantime, European leaders would be better advised to stick to their own countries' economic affairs, rather than on this rushed EU political power grab currently being planned for 2004.
Mt. Merrion, Ireland Having read BusinessWeek for at least 20 years, I conclude, together with a few friends in Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome, that your magazine is slowly becoming more and more anti-European in its coverage of business and industrial events in Western Europe ("Putting up walls," International Business, Dec. 30). Are you impartial, or do you toe Washington's perceived contemptuous line against the European Community? As EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy recently stated to us, "New York and Washington believe that they can master the world. Let us see." Is that the new philosophy of your Europe-based reporters?
Maurice Hendrik Bood
Paris "Eurostar is looking dimmer" (International Business, Jan. 13) says EasyJet Airline Co. has started offering round-trip fares of $130-$200, whereas Eurostar charges $415 midweek in standard class. I don't feel these are entirely comparable figures. While this figure may be the fully flexible Eurostar fare, it is possible to travel for far less, and a huge number of people do. I suspect the prices for EasyJet are at the lower end of their range.
I have lived in London for eight years and have used the Eurostar dozens of times during that period to visit both Paris and Brussels. I have never paid as much as you indicate. There are tickets available (with restrictions, admittedly, like either a saturday-night stay or two-day minimum) for much less. We rarely pay more than $125 round-trip, occasionally up to $190. This range compares well with that quoted for EasyJet.
St. Albans, England You are not sufficiently critical of American foreign policy ("A shocker from the oil patch," American News, Dec. 30). It seems that the U.S. is obsessed with starting a war with Iraq, in the meantime alienating most of its traditional allies--among them most European countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and even Canada. To date, no hard data have been presented to the public to justify this war. In most American media, this war is presented as inevitable. Meanwhile, North Korea has openly stated its nuclear ambitions, and the U.S. is taking a much more lenient stance. Where is the consistency?
There is also a dangerous turmoil taking place in your own backyard (Venezuela), yet to date we have not seen a consistent American effort to resolve this. If America wants to police the world, it need some consistent foreign policies, and more critical media.
Arthur W. Gevers
Curacao, Netherlands Antilles Your reader's suggestions that mainland China poses no threat to Taiwan and that U.S. concern about the situation is unwarranted are sadly incorrect. ("Greater China: Progress--and misplaced anxiety," Readers Report, Dec. 30, in response to "Greater China," Special Report, Dec. 9). Beijing has put pressure on other nations to exclude Taiwan and prevent its people from having a voice in the global community. The mainland has more than 400 missiles trained on Taiwan, and has rebuked Taiwan's repeated goodwill gestures and calls for friendly negotiations across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan cherishes and depends on the support and friendship of the U.S. to ensure peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and in the Asia-Pacific region. Were the U.S. to ignore the high tensions still present in the region, terrible consequences for the people of Taiwan and the world could be the result. Certainly, Taiwan's people wish to increase trade and improve relations with the mainland. But they also know the importance of safeguarding their hard-won rights and freedoms.
Taipei Economic & Cultural Office