Europa's ondoordachte zoektocht naar groei

BRUSSEL – Een paar maanden geleden ondertekenden 25 van de 27 lidstaten van de Europese Unie plechtig een verdrag dat hen verplichtte harde grenzen voor hun begrotingstekorten op te nemen in hun nationale grondwetten. Dit zogenoemde 'begrotingspact' was de sleutelvoorwaarde om Duitsland ermee te laten instemmen de financiering van de noodfondsen van de eurozone aanzienlijk te verhogen, en om de Europese Centrale Bank (ECB) haar 'langetermijnherfinancieringsoperatie' (LTRO) van €1 bln te laten uitvoeren, die van essentieel belang is voor de stabilisering van de financiële markten.

Vandaag is de aandacht van de eurozone echter verschoven naar de groei. Dit is een patroon dat zich in de Europese politiek telkens herhaalt: bezuinigingen worden afgekondigd en verdedigd als voorwaarde voor groei, maar als de recessie vervolgens blijkt te bijten, wordt groei de voorwaarde voor het doorgaan met de bezuinigingen.

Ongeveer vijftien jaar geleden had Europa te maken met een soortgelijke cyclus. Begin jaren negentig, toen de plannen voor de Europese Monetaire Unie werden opgesteld, eiste Duitsland een 'Stabiliteitspact' als prijs voor het opgeven van de Duitse mark. Toen Europa na 1995 in een diepe recessie terechtkwam, verschoof de aandacht naar de groei, en werd het 'Stabiliteitspact' het 'Pact voor Stabiliteit en Groei,' nadat de Europese Raad in 1997 een resolutie over “groei en ontwikkeling” had aangenomen.

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