E.I.R, Strategic Alert,

Schiller Institute

French President Emmanuel Macron, backed by the hard-core
Eurocrats, is touting himself as the champion of greater integration
of foreign, security and migration policies in the European
Union, not to mention the creation of a European army
(cf. SAS 47/18). But at a time when popular protests in the
EU are growing due to the plunge in living standards , and to
the blatant interference from Brussels into matters of national
sovereignty, any such supranational push is likely to backfire in
a big way.

The number of people living below the poverty line in Europe
is about 90 million and growing. Since the financial crisis
of 2008, in particular, living conditions in many countries
have severely deteriorated, as the gap between rich and poor
continues to widen. In Italy, the people at risk of poverty rose
from 15 million to 18 million since the 2008 crisis, with over 4
million people living in absolute poverty. That goes a long way
to explaining why a so-called “populist”, and anti-establishment
government was voted in. But throughout the old continent, the
same pattern is obvious (cf. below).

China, on the contrary, has lifted some 800 million citizens
out of poverty over the last decades, thereby building up a middle
class of 300 million people, and has committed to totally
eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2020. In 2010, the EU
set itself the (modest) goal of reducing poverty by 20 million
by the year 2020, but the number has increased since then, according
to its own statistics. Accordingly, despair and pessimism
for the future are plaguing the EU.

Of course, the parameters in Europe and China cannot be
compared as such, but the trend is clearly going the wrong way
in Europe… and the right way for China – as well as for those
Third World and emerging countries that have joined the Belt
and Road Initiative. It is time for European leaders to seriously
reflect on the causes of that difference. It is after all the case
that the economic policy pursued by the Chinese leadership under
Xi Jinping is much closer to what used to be known as the
American system of political economy, or the credit policy that
allowed for post-war reconstruction in Europe, and in particular
for the German “economic miracle” — than to the neo-liberal
monetarism espoused by Brussels and the current leaders of
the European Union.

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