sábado, agosto 01, 2009

478) Europa: uma decadencia confortável

Primeiro, um artigo interessante de um europeista eurocético (uma contradição nos termos, eu sei). Mais abaixo, meus poucos comentários a este ensaio.

Lack of ambition leaves Europe in the slow lane
By Philip Stephens
Financial Times, July 23 2009

Debates about the future of Europe have an unreal quality about them these days. Eurosceptics – most noisily in Britain but also elsewhere – still live the old nightmare of a united states of Europe. Yet on the other side of the barricades, the pro-Europeans could scarcely be said to be celebrating. They are more likely to lament the European Union’s palpable failure to claim a say in global affairs.

Were I to count myself among the sceptics, I would have claimed victory some time ago in the imagined great struggle between sovereign nation state and Brussels-led behemoth. The integrationist impulse that led to the creation of a single market and a European currency has long since dissipated.

If ever there was a moment when it might have been feared the nations of Europe were being subsumed into a federal superstate it passed a decade and more ago. Any residual doubts on that score should have been dispelled by the robustly nationalistic responses of Berlin, Paris and London to the international financial meltdown.

The once legendary Franco-German motor is in serious disrepair, too feeble to drive a Union now enlarged to 27 states. Grandiose talk of Europe’s emergence as a superpower alongside the US and China has been lost to its weak economic performance and even weaker political leadership. The rest of the world looks on with scorn (Beijing and Moscow) and disappointment (Barack Obama’s administration in Washington).

As a member of the pro-European camp I find myself torn between standing up for the significant successes of the European enterprise and lamenting all the missed opportunities. Half the time the cup is half-full; the other, half-empty.

Among audiences friendly to the less than startling idea that it makes eminent sense for Europe to pool its capabilities if it wants to remain visible in the fast-turning kaleidoscope of global power, I tend to accentuate the negative. Europe has become the greater Switzerland of the 21st century: comfortable, complacent and unwilling to venture abroad.

Among the sceptics who conveniently gloss over the first half of the 20th century in their quest to reclaim 19th century concepts of indivisible sovereignty, I point to the Union’s many successes. They are not hard to find. Post-second world war peace and prosperity apart, the entrenchment of democracy in post-communist central and eastern Europe stands out as a truly momentous achievement.

That said, it is easy to lapse into depression about the continent’s introspection. The world is witnessing as big a geopolitical upheaval as any in the past century. Power is shifting from west to east. The international institutions and rules upon which Europe relies for security and prosperity are under strain. And Europe looks set to absent itself from the debate.

This pessimistic case has been made eloquently by Charles Grant, the director of the London-based Centre for European Reform. Mr Grant, the CER’s founder and director, is nothing if not a convinced European. But the title of a recent essay speaks to his present mood: “Is Europe doomed to fail as a power?”

A decade or so ago, the EU might have been counted alongside the US, China, India, Russia and, perhaps, one or two others as a shaper of a new international order. Now, when he talks to Chinese, Russian or Indian policymakers, Mr Grant finds their views on European influence “withering”.

The Union may still have pretensions, but it is seen as “divided, slow-moving and badly organised”. Mr Obama had great hopes of Europe as a partner in his efforts to recast the west’s relationship with the rest of the world. But the US president is learning fast about the Union’s reluctance to act as one in foreign policy and defence.

The stakes here are considerable. It has become a cliché to say that we are moving rapidly into a multi-polar world in which the west will have a diminishing capacity to determine events. In such an environment, the middle-sized powers of Europe have more to lose than anyone else by any breakdown of the rules-based system. Even for the continent’s biggest nations going it alone is simply not an option.

But as Mr Grant notes, European governments are much more concerned to hold on to the totems of power – a gross over-allocation of seats in the various global institutions – than to help design the architecture of a new order.

One obvious danger is that the US and China will bypass Europe by creating a G2. You can already see that happening on climate change. All those European seats in the Group of Eight, the International Monetary Fund and such like would then be devalued currency. Behind this lies the bigger threat that the emerging multi-polar order will be based on power rather than law.

Mr Grant acknowledges there is another side to the story. Europe still has substantial “soft power” – rooted in its considerable economic strength, values and political stability. If it has failed to frame common policies towards, say, China or India, it makes a substantial, often overlooked, contribution to safeguarding peace and stability around the world.

Robert Cooper, the EU’s director general for external affairs, makes this case well in a critique that, with admirable fairness, Mr Grant has published alongside his own essay. For all that it is often inefficient and sometimes infuriating, today’s EU is a huge advance on what went before. Those who dispute this might consider the dismal failure of the Europe of the 1990s in response to the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Mr Cooper points also to the common mistake of judging Europe against unrealistic expectations. The EU was never going to emerge as a single state, so it should not be measured against the US or China. In Mr Cooper’s words: “The ambition of the EU cannot often be much greater than the sum of the ambitions of its member states, and they are not always ambitious.”

But there, I think, lies the problem. I cannot think of a moment in recent history when it has been more important for Europeans to demonstrate their ambitions for the world. Comfortable though it may seem now, Europe will discover that a future in the slow lane promises anything but an easy ride.

More columns at www.ft.com/philipstephens
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009


Bom artigo do Stephens, mas ele se engana em dois pontos:

1) "Europe has become the greater Switzerland of the 21st century: comfortable, complacent and unwilling to venture abroad."
PRA: A Suiça nao é só isso; tambem é um pais de alta produtividade, sem todas essas benesses trabalhistas e a rigidez no mercado de trabalho que tornam a Europa comunitaria uma região de lento crescimento, alto desemprego e baixa produtividade. Basta falar em flexibilidade contratual, em reforma do sistema educativo, especialmente no terceiro ciclo, que europeus em geral, franceses em particular, reagem com uma greve no dia seguinte...

2) "All those European seats in the Group of Eight, the International Monetary Fund and such like would then be devalued currency. Behind this lies the bigger threat that the emerging multi-polar order will be based on power rather than law."
PRA: A ordem internacional sempre foi mais baseada no poder do que no direito. Apenas ocorria que, anteriormente, com todas as suas colonias e bases militares around the world, a Europa parecia ter, e talvez tivesse, mais poder do que hoje. Como eles se acomodaram no guarda-chuva estrategico americano, e preferiram gastar o seu dinheiro com conforto em lugar de armas, hoje pagam o preço da sua irrelevancia militar.

O ponto principal, porem, parece ser este: com seu baixo dinamismo economico e incapacidade de reformar-se, a Europa vai ficando para tras. Vai precisar importar mais imigrantes para cuidar de seus velhos e ajudar na previdencia social, e vai ver os seus vignobles e terroirs serem comprados paulatinamente por nomes de consonancia chinesa ou indiana, os novos ricos da ordem global (nao absolutamente, mas é que eles vao ter mais milionarios extravagantes, querendo devolver aos europeus um pouco da humilhacao que sofreram nos ultimos dois ou tres seculos).
Paulo Roberto de Almeida
pralmeida@mac.com www.pralmeida.org

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