La reforma de Europa desde abajo

Si examinamos la historia europea de los últimos 25 años, veremos que desde finales de los setenta hasta principios de los noventa el continente estuvo asediado por la inestabilidad económica, altos niveles de desempleo, mercados sobrerregulados (incluyendo los mercados financieros), monopolios no reglamentados e industrias estatales ineficientes. A lo largo de la última década, Europa ha logrado avances importantes para recuperar la estabilidad macroeconómica, pero no ha tenido tanto éxito en promulgar las reformas a nivel micro que se necesitan para desregular los mercados y mejorar su eficiencia. ¿A qué se debe eso? ¿Hay en esto una lección para los países de Europa central y del Este a medida que se preparan para ingresar a la UE?

La alta inflación y la creciente deuda pública generaron un sentimiento de "crisis" a principios de los noventa en algunos países de la UE: cuando la casa está en llamas, los costos de no hacer nada son demasiado altos como para seguir sin hacer nada. Por ejemplo, tuvo que darse la crisis del tipo de cambio en 1992 para que los líderes italianos se dieran cuenta de que había que hacer algo para arreglar el desorden en que se encontraban las finanzas públicas del país. El temor a quedar excluídos del euro se encargó del resto, al crear un consenso político en favor de dar los pasos adecuados y necesarios.

Hoy, la casa económica europea ya no está en llamas. Por ello se ha hecho mucho más difícil doblegar a los intereses especiales a fin de liberalizar los mercados y mejorar la eficiencia económica. Por ejemplo, en junio pasado, Francia sufrió un mes de huelgas y protestas callejeras al estilo de las de 1968 simplemente para implementar reformas menores a las pensiones: la eliminación de unos cuantos privilegios especiales para los empleados del sector público.

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