Payer le prix de la réforme

Les résultats décevant d’Angela Merkel lors des récentes élections allemandes a maintenant mis au placard tout espoir de remaniement sérieux de l’économie du pays, connue pour sa rigidité. Tony Blair attendait son aide pour lancer une action destinée à faire de sa présidence européenne un tournant historique pour l’économie de l’Union européenne. Aujourd’hui M. Blair se retrouve sans projet et tous ceux qui étaient favorables aux réformes sont probablement en train de réviser à la baisse leurs ambitions. L’Europe semble plus que jamais immobilisée. Mais est-ce bien le cas ?

Pour commencer, le secteur privé se porte bien. Les technologies se distribuent rapidement et sont rapidement adoptées. Les entreprises ont réagi à des conditions peu hospitalières en réduisant la main d’œuvre et en relançant la productivité grâce à des processus de production à forte intensité capitalistique, et même, au besoin, en délocalisant leurs capacités. Les retardataires se trouvent dans l’industrie des services, largement isolée des chaînes de production internationales et même de la concurrence interne au niveau de l’Europe.

Il n’existe aucune « économie européenne » en tant que telle. Les 25 pays membres de l’Union européenne sont très différents. Les pays scandinaves sont les premiers sur le marché des hautes technologies, l’Espagne a réduit de moitié son taux de chômage (il se situait aux alentours de 25 % il n’y a pas si longtemps), et les nouveaux pays membres d’Europe centrale et d’Europe de l’Est avancent rapidement et régulièrement sur le chemin du rattrapage.

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