L’occasion de l’Europe

MILAN – En juillet, la Commission européenne a publié son sixième rapport sur la cohésion économique, sociale et territoriale (un terme qui peut être traduit approximativement comme égalité et inclusion). Le rapport présente un plan d’investissements importants – 450 milliards d’euros (583 milliards de dollars) injectés par trois fonds de l'Union européenne – entre 2014 et 2020. Compte tenu des conditions économiques et financières difficiles d'aujourd'hui, qui sont susceptibles de provoquer une réduction des investissements dans le secteur public au sein des budgets nationaux, ce programme représente un engagement majeur en faveur des investissements dans le secteur public en soutien à la croissance.

La stratégie de cohésion de l'UE est admirable et intelligente. Alors que ces investissements étaient auparavant fortement orientés vers l'infrastructure physique – en particulier les transports – l'ordre du jour est passé aujourd’hui à une série plus équilibrée d’objectifs, visant y compris le capital humain, l'emploi, la base de connaissances et technologique de l'économie, la technologie de l'information, la croissance sobre en carbone, et la gouvernance.

Cela dit, on peut se demander ce que seront les retombées économiques et sociales de ces investissements. Certes, conserver des taux de croissance élevés exige le maintien de niveaux élevés d'investissements publics, ce qui augmente le rendement (et par conséquent les niveaux) de l'investissement privé et, en fin de compte, l'élévation de la production et de l'emploi. Néanmoins, l'investissement public n'est qu'une composante des stratégies de croissance réussies. Il sera bienvenu dans tous les scénarios, mais son impact sera beaucoup plus grand au-delà du court terme si d'autres contraintes qui pèsent actuellement sur l’économie sont supprimées.

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