Reiches Europa, armes Europa

Seit ihren frühsten Tagen strebt die Europäische Union eine ausgewogene wirtschaftliche Entwicklung ihrer vielen Regionen an. Der Vertrag von Maastricht enthält diesbezüglich die frappierende Formulierung „eine harmonische Entwicklung der Union als Ganzes“. Doch so bewundernswert eine derartige Einstellung auch sein mag: Was das „richtige“ Niveau an Unterschieden und die korrekte Geschwindigkeit der Konvergenz angeht, lässt sich nicht mit „wissenschaftlicher Genauigkeit“ sagen.

Nichtsdestotrotz ist es nützlich, die wirtschaftlichen Unterschiede innerhalb der EU mit jenen in den Vereinigten Staaten zu vergleichen, um die regionale Konvergenz innerhalb Europas zu bewerten – wobei man natürlich im Hinterkopf behalten muss, dass die USA seit mehr als zwei Jahrhunderten ein Nationalstaat sind, während die EU am ehesten als eine Konföderation von 27 Staaten unter einer supranationalen Struktur zu betrachten ist.

Lassen Sie uns zunächst einen historischen Blick auf den westlichen Teil der EU werfen. 1960 waren die Unterschiede dessen, was später als EU-15 bekannt wurde, etwa doppelt so groß wie jene zwischen den Einzelstaaten der USA. Heute sind sie mit den Einkommensunterschieden innerhalb Amerikas vergleichbar. Die Einkommensunterschiede haben sich sowohl in nominaler Hinsicht – ausgedrückt in Euro – als auch in realer Hinsicht unter Berücksichtigung der Kaufkraft halbiert.

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