terça-feira, abril 10, 2012
Europe has yet to make Europeans
By Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
“We have made Italy, now we must make Italians.” So said Massimo d’Azeglio, an Italian intellectual, just after his country’s unification in 1861. The current generation of EU politicians face a modern version of the d’Azeglio dilemma: They have made a European Union, now they must make Europeans.
The construction of a group identity typically takes generations. But Europe’s politicians no longer have the luxury of time. Unless they can persuade the 500m or so citizens of the EU to feel more attachment to Europe and less to their nations, they may be unable to take the necessary steps to save the euro.
Most analysts reckon that, to survive, the euro will have to be backed by a much bigger European federal budget, common debt (eurobonds) and a more powerful central government. These things do not have to emerge immediately, but the direction of travel needs to be established soon. However, the popular backing for such steps is nowhere to be seen. German taxpayers balk at the idea of larger transfers of money to southern Europe. Greek and Spanish voters do not seem remotely ready to see their countries’ budgets made in Brussels. The European identity needed to make “Europe” work is not strong enough. But without it the EU looks like a building with shallow foundations, trying to withstand a political and economic earthquake.
The difficulty of “making Italians” is a cautionary tale for those who now have to struggle to “make Europeans”. More than 150 years after unification, the Northern League, a powerful opposition party, campaigns to turn Italy into a much looser federation, or even to break the country up.
The League’s leader, Umberto Bossi, was forced to resign last week but the tensions on which his party thrives remain. Southern Italy is still much poorer than the north. Some argue that its relative stagnation is partly a result of being stuck in a currency union with the more productive north. Meanwhile many northern taxpayers deeply resent the transfers of tax money to the south and lambast the region’s corruption.
Like Italy, Europe suffers from a north-south divide, with mutual resentments growing between the citizens of a more prosperous north and an economically struggling south. Somehow, politicians have to persuade both sides to overcome their differences, by thinking of themselves as Europeans.
But “making Europeans” will be much tougher than making Italians: the process of identity formation must take place across a huge territory with entrenched differences of language and culture.
All nation-builders have known that a shared national narrative and a common language are essential building blocks for the creation of a nation. Control of the education system is essential. In 1861, just one in 40 Italians actually spoke Italian. That was rectified through the schools. But today education remains firmly in the hands of the EU’s 27 nations. There is no common school curriculum inside the EU – far less instruction in a common language.
After a recent EU summit that saw the adoption of German-inspired fiscal rules, Volker Kauder, the parliamentary group leader for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, exulted: “Now Europe is speaking German”. But that is not true, literally or metaphorically. It is far too soon to proclaim that Germany’s economic “stability culture” has been internalised by southern Europe. And teaching of the German language has actually been on the slide in much of Europe – although demand for German lessons is reportedly picking up in southern Europe, as the unemployed contemplate emigration.
If Europe genuinely wanted all its citizens to be taught in a common language, the obvious candidate would be English. But proposing that English should be made the language of instruction in French schools would simply be a new and amusing way of committing political suicide.
Some pundits nonetheless thought they had spotted hopeful signs of the formation of a pan-European identity in the current French presidential election, when it was announced that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, would campaign alongside Nicolas Sarkozy. But the idea was swiftly dropped, along with President Sarkozy’s early campaign theme that he would import a successful German model to France.
The barnstorming Le Bourget speech that launched the campaign of François Hollande, Mr Sarkozy’s chief rival, is full of references to great figures from French history – from Clemenceau to Camus. It is these cultural roots that give the speech its colour, its passion and its sense of history. The EU barely features.
In fact, as the French election has proceeded, so the debate has become more nationalistic. The authorities in Brussels, who are convinced that Europe must press ahead with deeper integration have instead had to listen to Mr Hollande promising to “renegotiate” the EU’s new fiscal pact and Mr Sarkozy threatening to pull France out of its agreement on border-free travel. Elections in Greece next month are also likely to see a sharp increase in nationalist rhetoric – particularly after the recent shocking suicide of a pensioner, who killed himself in front of parliament and left a note accusing Greek politicians of being traitors who had sold the country out to foreigners.
Group identities can be forged in moments of crisis and war. But, far from “making Europeans”, this current crisis is encouraging the citizens of the European Union to fall back on older, more deeply-rooted, national identities.
Comentário: Como já disse outras vezes, o euro foi um projeto concebido pela elite europeia, um ícone daquilo que Hayek chamou de "arrogância fatal". Foi um projeto político antes de econômico. A ideia era unir à força povos com culturas bem diferentes. A criação dos Estados Unidos da Europa era a meta ambiciosa daquela turma, incluindo socialistas franceses. Ocorre que faltou combinar com os alemães e gregos que eles, a partir de então, seriam um único povo. As línguas são diferentes, não há ampla mobilidade de mão de obra, ao contrário do que acontece nos EUA, e as culturas são bem distintas. Não se muda pilares tão estruturais por decreto estatal. Ao tentarem impor um casamento sem "amor" genuíno, os burocratas europeus vão acabar criando uma separação litigiosa. A sobrevivência do euro está longe de garantida.