Europe's Long Road to a Crew Launch Capability

The budget of the European Space Agency (ESA) is three times that of Russia’s Roscosmos, and the combined budgets of ESA and the national space agencies of France, Germany, and Italy is 50% greater than that of China’s space agency. Why do European astronauts have to pay to hitch rides to space? Perhaps a European-style corporate welfare programme for aerospace contractors isn’t the road to the stars.