L'Union européenne est-elle en train d'imploser ?

La perspective de l'adhésion à l'Union européenne a fortement encouragé les pays de l'Est à atteindre l'équilibre budgétaire ; un effet semblable à celui du passage à l'euro pour l'Europe occidentale. Néanmoins, dans les deux cas, après de bons débuts, les pays ont manifesté une "fatigue" politique évidente : dans la zone euro, le Pacte de stabilité a implosé, et dans toute l'Europe orientale les déficits budgétaires ont commencé à augmenter.

En République tchèque l'année dernière, le déficit budgétaire - qui a triplé depuis 1999 - a atteint 13 % du PIB. Alourdi ponctuellement par la restructuration du secteur bancaire, il dépassera tout de même cette année 6 %. La Pologne enregistre également un déficit proche de 6 %, contre 2,9 % en 2001. En Hongrie, l'écart se creuse de nouveau, après un déficit de 4 % en 2001. A Malte, le déficit représente près de 10 % du PIB, soit 4 points de plus qu'en 2001. Seuls les pays baltes semblent en mesure de maintenir des politiques budgétaires saines.

Cette situation n'est guère surprenante : libérés des rapports de suivi annuels de l'UE, et de la menace d'exclusion, les politiciens peuvent se permettre beaucoup plus de souplesse. En même temps, les grands pays de la zone euro - la France et l'Allemagne - sont mal placés pour critiquer les politiques budgétaires des autres, et le déficit des membres de l'Union n'est donc soumis à pratiquement aucune contrainte internationale. En réalité, les contraintes se sont avérées totalement inutiles après adhésion, et il sera difficile d'en faire des critères pour les prochains candidats.

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