El precio de la reforma

Los malos resultados que obtuvo Angela Merkel en las recientes elecciones de Alemania pusieron en el congelador cualquier esperanza de llevar a cabo una revisión seria de la economía del país, célebre por su rigidez. Tony Blair esperaba que ella ayudara a iniciar un esfuerzo para hacer de la actual presidencia británica de la Unión Europea un hito histórico en la economía comunitaria. Ahora Blair no tiene proyecto y todos los aspirantes a reformistas seguramente están reduciendo sus ambiciones. Europa parece estar más empantanada que nunca, pero ¿lo está?

Para empezar, al sector privado le va bien. La tecnología viaja rápido y se adopta deprisa. Las empresas han respondido a las condiciones inhospitalarias recortando personal y aumentando la productividad a través de procesos de producción más intensivos en capital y, cuando ha sido necesario, subcontratando operaciones. Los rezagados se encuentran sólo en la industria de los servicios, que está aislada en gran medida de las cadenas de producción internacionales e incluso de la competencia interna europea.

A un nivel más básico, la "economía europea" no existe. Los 25 países miembros de la Unión son muy diversos. Los países nórdicos son líderes en materia de alta tecnología; España ha recortado a la mitad la tasa de desempleo (hace no mucho era del 25%); y los nuevos miembros de Europa central y del Este van a paso firme y veloz para ponerse al corriente.

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