Los dos futuros de Europa

La Europa actual muestra una imagen contradictoria. Es la tierra de la paz, la democracia y el Estado de derecho. También es la tierra de la prosperidad: su economía es competitiva, su moneda es fuerte, la inflación es baja y sus estándares de vida se ubican entre los más elevados del mundo. Los europeos gozan de niveles muy altos de protección social, de educación de calidad a bajo costo, de normas ambientales estrictas y de una excelente infraestructura. Además, tiene una diversidad cultural sin igual y una gran belleza natural. Todo eso parece un sueño utópico.

Con 500 millones de habitantes y el mercado único más grande del mundo, Europa, incluso si el mundo no la ve como una unión real, es de cualquier forma un gigante económico. Pero políticamente es un enano –y se está contrayendo. Nuestro siglo es el de los Estados grandes, y un mayor auge de China, la India, Estados Unidos y Japón pronto hará que las potencias más grandes de Europa parezcan insignificantes. Actualmente los tres miembros más grandes de la UE apenas pueden contrarrestar la pérdida de influencia política de Europa y mucho menos cambiar la corriente. Sin una UE fuerte, este fenómeno no hará más que intensificarse.

Fuera de Europa, el mundo está cambiando rápidamente y no va a esperar a los europeos empantanados en un proceso angustiante de autodescubrimiento. Las alternativas son claras: llevar el paso o rezagarse.

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