El eclipse e incierto futuro de Europa enfrenta a las elites norteamericanas y europeas. Desde Washington, un cierto populismo neo con. considera Europa caída prematuramente en la decadencia demográfica, abandonada el imperialismo cultural y demográfico islámico. Teoría apocalíptica que muchos consideran parcialmente risible, desde la Viejo continente.
● Gideon Rachman da una respuesta que me parece convincente a los apocalípticos norteamericanos.
● Mi visión de uno de los ángulos del eclipse europeo: Inmigración e islamismo en Europa, a principios del siglo XXI.
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Este es el artículo de GR en Financial Times, 17 octubre 2006:
US prophets of Europe’s doom are half wrong
By Gideon Rachman
Europeans of a nervous disposition should probably avoid going into bookshops on their next visit to the US. If they venture inside, they will come across an array of titles with a blood-curdlingly bleak view of their continent’s future.
In Bruce Bawer’s While Europe Slept (Doubleday) – now into its eighth printing – the American reader is told that by ignoring the threat from radical Islam: «Europe is steadily committing suicide and perhaps all we can do is look on in horror.» Tony Blankley, author of The West’s Last Chance (Regnery), warns that: «The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940s.» In The Cube and the Cathedral (Basic), George Weigel, a Catholic conservative, claims that «western Europe is committing a form of demographic suicide». In this he echoes Pat Buchanan, who argued in his best-selling The Death of the West (Thomas Dunne) that Europe’s population is set to fall to 30 per cent of its current level by 2100, meaning that «the cradle of western civilisation will have become its grave».
I suspect that few Europeans would recognise themselves in this distorting mirror held up from the other side of the Atlantic. And yet – tempting as it was to toss all these books into the bin and go out for a drink in the midst of my doomed civilisation (one might as well enjoy what little time is left) – it is impossible completely to dismiss the American prophets of European doom. Strip away the hysteria and the hype and they make two serious points.
First, European fertility rates have fallen well below the rate of 2.1 children per woman needed for a population to remain stable. Across the European Union, the average fertility rate is now about 1.5. This downward spiral in the population is self-reinforcing, since Europe will have fewer and fewer women of reproductive age in the future. The second point is that the Muslim population of Europe is rising sharply at the same time as the white, European population is falling. The American pessimists argue that this is a recipe for social turmoil, or worse.
These trends could, indeed, spell trouble. In fact, official Europe is also alarmed. Last week, the European Commission warned that without reform, the ageing of the EU’s population will see average economic growth rates fall to 1 per cent a year from 2030 to 2050. Meanwhile, a lively, sometimes agonised, debate about the assimilation of Muslim immigrants is taking place across the continent.
The trends that the American doom-merchants have latched on to are real enough. The weakness in their arguments is that – at every stage – they tend to make the most pessimistic assumptions.
Take demography: Buchanan argues that: «The Spanish birthrate is the lowest in all Europe?.?.?.?and the population is projected to fall by 25 per cent in 50 years.» But such projections only hold if you assume that Spain will have no net immigration. In fact, over the past three years more than half a million immigrants a year have been arriving in Spain – pushing the population over 44m. Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, projects that the 25 members of the EU will have a total population of 449.8m in 2050, compared with 456m today – because falling fertility will be largely offset by rising immigration.
The problem is not that the European population will simply shrink away. It is that over the next 50 years, Europe will have to deal with the fact that its population is becoming both much older and much more diverse.
If Europe’s welfare states remain unreformed, the ageing of the population could lead to fiscal meltdown, as pension and healthcare systems become unaffordable. But, as the saying goes: «Something that cannot go on forever, won’t.» Demographic pressure is already forcing Europeans to change their welfare systems and career patterns. In some countries, the process will be very difficult. In others, it may be relatively painless.
Similarly, the American vision of a Muslim takeover of Europe – creating a new continent called «Eurabia» – relies on projecting demographic trends to their limit and beyond. Weigel fantasises about a day when «the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from the central loggia of St Peter’s in Rome». Given that just 1.7 per cent of the Italian population is currently Muslim, that seems a long way off. Of the 456m people of the EU, just 15m to 16m are Muslim.
Of course, rapid immigration from the developing world, combined with higher fertility rates among immigrant populations, means that the Muslim population of Europe is likely to rise sharply. In some places such as France, where Muslims already make up 7-10 per cent of the population, the changes could be quite dramatic.
Until a few years ago, mainstream European opinion would have shrugged off rising Muslim populations as unworthy of debate. But that is no longer the case. Just this week in Britain, there has been heated argument over the wearing of the veil by school teachers and the radicalisation of Muslim students. One recent poll found that nearly one-third of young British Muslims agreed that the July 2005 bombings in London were «justified because of British support for the war on terror».
That is a truly alarming picture. But it is also a snapshot. There is no doubt that tensions between Muslims and other Europeans are unprecedentedly high after September 11 2001, the Iraq war, riots in Paris and terrorism in London, Madrid and Amsterdam. It is certainly possible that things will just get worse. But it is not inevitable. Zachary Shore, author of Breeding Bin Ladens (Johns Hopkins) and the only one of the American authors to have taken the trouble to talk to a lot of European Muslims, sees Europe’s Muslim population as poised «at a critical fork in the road: one trail leads them to western integration, the other sets a course for alienation and possible extremism».
European governments are acutely aware of this and are changing policies in response. The British are rethinking their «multicultural» approach to immigration; the French are considering positive discrimination; the Danes have cracked down on arranged marriages. Who knows – some of these policies may even work. If they do not, politics and policies will change again. Of all the many scenarios for the future of Europe, perhaps the least likely is that Europeans simply sleep-walk off a cliff.