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Antonio Moreno, Professor of Economics at the University of Navarra School

Javier Herrero, student 2nd year of the Leadership and Governance program of Degree at Economics of the University of Navarra.

refund the illusion of Europe

Thu, 09 May 2019 10:24:00 +0000 Published in Navarra Newspaper

On a day like today, 69 years ago, one of the most momentous declarations in the history of the Old Continent took place. A Luxembourg, French and German politician - all at the same time - did not hesitate to bury the ghosts of war and take a step forward, always accompanied by people of equivalent quality, such as Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi or Jean Monnet, also known as the "fathers of Europe".

Almost seventy years later, what does this declaration mean for Europe? "Solidarity in fact", as Schuman himself wrote that day. It all started with the European Coal and Steel Community, promoted mainly by Germany and France, and signed in 1951 by other European countries (Benelux and Italy). Economic ties were thought of as a tool of relationship and circulation of people that would favor the construction of an interconnected Europe, which would make it more difficult to return to the tragic episodes of the world wars; in Schuman's words: "to make war not only morally unthinkable, but materially impossible". At the root of the European Union therefore lies openness as the search for peace between people of a similar culture.

Ten years after the economic crisis, perhaps the European institution can be blamed for some mistakes in the management of the crisis. That said, it is indisputable that neither Europe nor the euro were the cause of the crisis and that many measures were put in place to help those who suffered most from the crisis, even reversing initial policies. It cannot be disputed that both the European Central Bank and the European Commission helped the most troubled countries enormously. The former with expansive monetary policies that helped the indebted countries of the South. The second with bailouts from all over subject to bankrupt countries and sectors. It is difficult -impossible- to make a counterfactual analysis of what would have happened to countries like Greece outside the area euro. What we do know is that a country like the United Kingdom, which also suffered during the crisis, is in political and social chaos, largely induced by the process of European disintegration and the distrust that this transmits to the outside world.

The challenges facing the European Union are formidable, though not dissimilar to those in other parts of the world. Two obvious ones are immigration and demographics. Solidarity cannot mean no borders in Europe, but unified policies between countries with clear rules. At the same time, we cannot depend on immigration - volatile and changing - to fix the sustainability of the Welfare State that Europe is facing. The persistent existence of negative interest rates on a large issue of financial assets is symptomatic. This fact, historically anomalous, stems to a large extent from the low level of investment, derived in turn from the leave European birth rate and an aging population. Avoiding the Japanization of Europe requires a dynamic demography that boosts investment and productivity, as has been the historical rule . A vibrant demography is nothing other than, precisely, guaranteeing de facto intergenerational solidarity.

Finally, the fundamental challenge of the European Union is none other than refund the illusion to so many citizens of the European Union who have stopped believing in it. This will require greater closeness to the people who make it up, but above all to continue with determination, solvency and generosity its original project , because, to quote Schuman again: "Europe will not be made all at once or in an overall work: it will be made thanks to concrete achievements, which first of all create a de facto solidarity".