The North-South European Divide

TheNorth-South European Divide

TheEuropean Union body entails a politico-economic union operatingthrough negotiated regulations to govern its member states. Theregulations are meant to prevent inflation caused by weak countriesborrowing more than they can afford among other issues. Though theUnion has been effective in so many aspects, several issues tend todeter it. For instance, too much debts and government spending. Inthis case, countries spend more than they can afford in a fiscal yearleading to immense borrowing. The GDP results for such countries tendto be against the required percentages of the EU statutes. Anotherissue is the North South divide. Understanding the distinctionsbetween northern and southern countries will be a major undertakingwithin this paper. Scholars seem to discover differences betweencountries of the north and those from the south. In that regard, thispaper will try to elaborate the diversities between the two andthereby devise means to overcome the barriers. Since the inception ofthe European Union, positive impacts have been realized within themember states. This paper will therefore try to outline somesolutions in terms of policy compromises, innovative initiativesamong other actions that can helpful to the union.

TheNorth and South divide

Thecore foundation of the north-south divide is due to the divergingeconomic performance experienced in these sides as a result of Eurocrisis. As a matter of fact, southern countries such as Italy,Cyprus, Greece, Spain and Portugal have been affected most by thiscrisis whereas northern counterparts like Germany have dealt calmlywith the crisis. Viewing the economic indicators since the eurocrisis began in 2009, distinction between the two zones can berealized. Public debts in the southern countries has been soaringwith Greece 169.1 percent of GDP, Portugal 131.3 percent, and Italy133.3 percent of GDP. This are quite high figures more than theaverage 93.4 percent of GDP for Eurozone. Cyprus and Spain on theother hand are nearly doubling their public debts levels. The severefiscal circumstances of these southern countries dents theircreditworthiness leading to constraints in terms of financialmarkets. These countries face burdens especially immense borrowingcosts. This is not the case for northern countries who continue toborrow at lower rates. A good comparison is between Portugal andGermany. Germany’s interests rates are extremely low typically1.944 percent whereas Portugal’s is 5.675 percent [ CITATION Jul11 l 1033 ].

Anotherdifference is outlined by the rates of unemployment. The southernstates are experiencing quite high unemployment rates i.e. 21.9percent for Greece, 24.6 percent for Spain and 15.2 percent forPortugal. These are considerably high in accordance to the EuropeanUnion’s average of 10.3 percent. This is quite the opposite forNorthern countries who are experiencing a rather stable economy.

Generally,southern European countries are experiencing a less competitiveatmosphere due to increased costs of labor that are outdoingproductivity gains. A more worrying notion drawn from factorindicators suggest that the economic gap between the two zones isbound to increase even further. For instance, the education gapbetween the two zones is quite evident. As per the staffing industry,the education gap has led to labor oversupply in minimum skillsvacancies across southern Europe. Further investments in educationwithin southern Europe is difficult hence prompting a brain drain tothe northern countries like Germany [ CITATION Gar12 l 1033 ].

Thenorth-south differences are also experienced in terms of politics.Stereotypical regionalism has resurged with proponents of the samedeeming happenings in southern Europe as being self-inflicted.According to them, the north-south divide is a practical reflectionof the split between two continent portions rather than a momentaryaberration. As per these assumptions, the northern and southernstates do not share common cultures hence are bound to be differentin almost all facets [ CITATION Mic101 l 1033 ].

Obstaclesin overcoming the differences

Onemajor obstacle as seen above involves political perspectives. Somescholars base their arguments on cultural perspectives. For example,Tino Sanandaji who is a proponent of the cultural ideology suggeststhat even in the 19thcentury, Northern states outperformed the rest due to their workethics. Almost similar policies are applied across all the memberstates but results being yielded tend to differ. In that regard,bringing the south and north states into a consensus proves to be onemajor obstacle. The two regions blame each other i.e. the southsuggesting unfair treatment from the north whereas the northerndeeming the southern woes as self-inflicted [ CITATION Gar12 l 1033 ].

Potentialsolutions in terms of policies, innovative initiatives and boldactions

Innovationis regarded as a major contributor towards bridging the north-southdivide. Skills, education and trainings are all government’sresponsibilities. As earlier elaborated, there tends to be a widedifference in terms of education and skills between the two regions.The northern countries boast of technological advancements that aremainly seen in the infrastructure. Due to the availability of waterbodies, water transport which is deemed to be cheaper is widely usedacross many northern countries. Southern countries need to investmore on education and infrastructure improvements to maketransportation of goods and services much easier. Infrastructure interms of roads, rails among others are core to bridging thenorth-south differences [ CITATION Str11 l 1033 ].

Knowledgeon other European countries is a concern. In other words, the Germansdo not necessarily know about the French, the Danish do not knowsituations in Bavaria among others. This scenario is unconducive andcontributes to the divide between the two regions. In that respect,EU commission needs to devise techniques to integrate the EuropeanUnion effectively. Leaders and citizens ought to be aware ofsituations in other countries to effectively ensure integration. Theyshould invest on the realities of others and not only theirrespective countries [ CITATION Str11 l 1033 ].

TheEU central bank must effectively restrict borrowing across countrieswith high borrowing rates. The policies should be fairly administeredacross the member states. It is common for countries deemed as morepowerful like France to borrow more without necessarily facingpenalties. However, this is not the same for smaller countries.Hence, the rules ought to be equally administered to bridge the gaps.

Culturalcomplexities as well as economics are causing the gaps between thetwo regions. The gaps can only be bridged by addressing conflictingperceptions ranging from culture to political ideologies. By deemingevents at southern states as self-inflected, northern states aredriving a wedge between the two regions. Governments and the Europeancommission must be able to address such issues to achieve equity.

Conclusion

Addressingthe disparities between the south and north states is quiteintricate. This is because the countries tend to have differingcultures, resources among others that tend to draw a wedge betweenthem. For instance, northern countries tend to benefit from watertransport that is rather cheaper. Southern states continue to sufferfrom the euro crisis with immense borrowing stagnating their growth.However, tightening of policies, championing infrastructuredevelopments as well as education and skills can help bridge the evergrowing gap. Administering the penalties should not be biased inaccordance to how a powerful a state is deemed to be.

References

Landesmann, M. A. (2010). The new North-South Divide in Europe. The new North-South Divide in Europe, 1-31.

Martin, G. (2012, August). European Affairs. Retrieved from European Affairs: http://www.europeaninstitute.org/index.php/ei-blog/155-european-affairs/ea-august-2012/1614-europes-north-south-dividea-stubborn-chasm

Ruppold, J. (2011). Are Austerity Measures Leading to a North-South Divide. Are Austerity Measures Leading to a North-South Divide, 1-3.

Stratfor. (2011, November 14). Europe`s North-South Divide on Infrastructure. Retrieved from Europe`s North-South Divide on Infrastructure: https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/special-report-europes-north-south-divide-infrastructure