Europa, escenario de un choque generacional

LONDRES – La crisis financiera europea está pasando de aguda a crónica, y la disputa sobre a quién le corresponde pagar los costos de resolverla está alentando la aparición de una nueva generación de movimientos políticos. En la denominada periferia, los nuevos surgimientos políticos prometen a los ciudadanos una alternativa a la austeridad. En los países del “núcleo” de la eurozona, ofrecen proteger a los contribuyentes de las demandas incesantes de ayuda a los países deudores. De cómo respondan los líderes europeos al reto planteado por estos nuevos contendientes dependerá que la unión monetaria se estabilice o se fracture.

En general, la élite política europea siempre fue decididamente integracionista. La mayoría de sus miembros son de la generación posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, lo que los hace claramente conscientes de los beneficios que reporta una Europa en paz. Pero en los años noventa, las divergencias respecto de la integración europea llevaron a que se buscara una solución de compromiso que resultó problemática. Para asegurar el apoyo de Francia a la reunificación de Alemania, este país aceptó que se creara una unión monetaria, pero no una unión fiscal. Ahora Europa sufre las consecuencias de este pacto irreflexivo.

Mientras esto sucede, los líderes europeos están bajo presión de una nueva generación de votantes crecidos a la sombra de la caída del Muro de Berlín. La apertura de la Cortina de Hierro permitió que Occidente accediera a una abundante oferta de mano de obra barata en Europa del este. La oferta aumentó todavía más con el posterior surgimiento de China, en un proceso que culminó con el ingreso de este país a la Organización Mundial del Comercio en 2001. El resultado fue que muchas de las economías de Europa comenzaron a quedarse atrás.

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