Hidden Treasures

Mapping Europe's sources of competitive advantages in doing business

Hidden Treasures Program

A new research project and book by Donald Kalff and Andrea Renda (CEPS, Brussels)

‘Europe should look at its best qualities to revamp and reclaim its position in the global order, to the benefit of all.’

Until recently, Europe has sought to carve out its model and role in global governance by mimicking many US policy approaches: shareholder capitalism, deregulation and unconstrained movement of capital. Nonetheless, Europe is often presented as a declining global power, in which red tape, incumbency interests and governance flaws hamper economic performance, innovation and productivity.

The global community increasingly sees the rise of protectionist stances, and a growing inability to face emerging challenges such as sustainable development and the breathtaking rise of disruptive digital technologies. Europe should look at its best qualities to revamp and reclaim its position in the global order, to the benefit of all. The prospect of Brexit, while certainly not favourable for the Union, paradoxically opens up new opportunities to face emerging challenges with a greater degree of cohesion.

The book, Hidden Treasures, a joint effort between Donald Kalff and a group of researchers from European think tank CEPS led by Andrea Renda, aims at identifying and exploring a number of ‘Hidden Treasures,’ competitive advantages often covered by dust that could, if adequately nurtured, bring back the Old Continent at the forefront of the global order. 

”Hidden Treasures’ are features of the EU economy, legal system or legal tradition that are being given insufficient attention in EU public policy, but which bear the potential to increase Europe’s competitiveness and overall positioning in the global context.

 The authors find them in ten policy domains, from contract law to corporate governance, taxation, control of corruption, competition policy, trade, innovation and the EU’s unique approach to governing the digital economy. 

Uncovering and promoting Hidden Treasures is a timely and much-needed exercise: the EU approaches its post-elections transition, and the global governance contexts seems to be rapidly shape a new playing field in which Europe has no obvious allies. Europe will increasingly be challenged by superpowers with different, if not opposing, priorities.

To enable and further this process of uncovering and promoting hidden Treasures, the Hidden Treasures Program was launched in conjunction with the book. Its aim is to highlight policies and innovations that fall under the definitions given above. Readers and followers are explicitly invited to add their own findings and undertakings.

All further information, and book excerpts, can be found on the dedicated website hiddentreasuresprogram.eu

About the book


‘Europe has a chance to lead the global community also thanks to its primacy in trade policy, and its emerging leadership in the regulation of emerging digital technologies. EU trade policy is already a shiny gem: but additional policy coherence would make the EU a potential leader in ‘responsible globalisation’. And on digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, the Internet of Things and 5G, Europe can claim to possess three advantages: a solid, comprehensive legal framework; the size of the Single Market; and a potential leadership in the global quest for fundamental rights and sustainable development goals, at a time in which the US is backtracking, and China appears not yet ready to lead. Establishing a comprehensive policy framework to enable the contribution of digital technologies to the SDG agenda would optimally place the EU as global leader both in the SDG arena, as well as in the technological one.’


To read the full book online, download as PDF or buy in print, please go to the CEPS website

Get in touch

In 2020, Donald Kalff will visit major European cities to discuss his ideas with policy makers and leaders of enterprise. If you are interested in a meeting with Donald, or if you have any thoughts about the EU Agenda, feel free to get in touch!