Because we need a Marshall Plan on energy between the US and the EU

Because we need a Marshall Plan on energy between the US and the EU

The United States and the European Union must cement their newfound unity with a Marshall Plan on energy. Giuliano Cazzola's analysis

The European Union and the United States have reached an agreement to significantly increase imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) into Europe in order to reduce dependence on Russian gas. This was announced in recent days by Jeo Biden and Ursula von der Leyen.

It is time for an energy Marshall Plan. In history, '' pindaric flights '' between different situations after so many decades are not allowed. The American Administration Plan of 1947 aimed to contribute to the reconstruction of Europe after the destruction of the Second World War. It was a lucid and far-sighted choice with which the US, victors of the war, committed themselves to playing a leading role in the reconstruction and conquest of a solid and lasting peace.

This is what was missing at the end of the Great War. American troops had been instrumental in the defeat of the Central Empires. Their massive intervention had changed the tide of the conflict. President Woodrow Wilson – who had wanted his country to participate in the conflict and who was the main protagonist of the Versailles Conference by promoting the constitution of the League of Nations, as an instrument for the settlement of international disputes – was disavowed by Congress which, in a raptus isolationist, he did not approve the treaties, forcing Wilson to a substantial political marginalization that led him in a short time to his death. Abandoned to itself, to its historical enmities that have not subsided, to the dispute over the resources of coal and steel, Europe found itself experiencing a twenty-year armistice between the two great tragedies of the '' short century '': an armistice that it became open war again on September 1, 1939 when Hitler's Germany – to which France and the United Kingdom had made shameful concessions – invaded Poland (in league with Stalin's USSR).

Winston Churchill commented on the 1938 Munich Pact with these prophetic words (which would be appropriate to remind many '' Putinians without their knowledge '' who attend television studios): '' To avoid war you have chosen dishonor. You will have dishonor and war. ''

The American administration after World War II (the Atlantic Charter had already traced the course) understood that it was also necessary to recover the defeated countries from a perspective of reconstruction and peace. Apart from food aid, the Marshall Plan also addressed the USSR and the European countries of that area of ​​influence (at that time the communist parties were taking power with the establishment of the so-called popular democracies). This sparked a debate also in that world, closed by Stalin's niet, dictated by political reasons, to which both the governments of Eastern Europe and the communist parties of Western countries from the opposition (the PCI and the PCF ). The Plan was not limited to providing important resources (made the necessary equivalences in any case lower than those of the NGEU) over a five-year period, but oriented the conversion and reconstruction of industrial apparatuses towards new production objectives: durable consumer goods at starting from the car up to the so-called white goods. This obviously required investments in infrastructure (motorways) and basic industry (steel, energy and petrochemicals).

The economic miracle (despite all its imbalances: internal immigration, the North-South dualism, etc.) was based on these choices. And the Italian economy took the lead in exports (the characteristic that has distinguished it in all these decades). But the development of Italy (to which urban construction made a great contribution) was in tune with a market which, as far as supply was concerned, shared the same trends as demand. And the turning point towards the market economy and free trade was transformed in a short time into a political-military alliance (the Atlantic Pact and NATO), which favored the emergence of a European community, democratic and open on the two fundamental pillars of a new order: democracy and the market economy.

Competition with the USSR during the Cold War was not only political and military, but also economic. This aspect was neglected in the debate of those years; indeed on some occasions (as in the challenges for the conquest of space) there was the conviction that the Soviet Union was ahead of America. In the same way, the model of real socialism was not criticized from the economic point of view, to the point of making certain circles believe that work, social justice took a toll on the freedoms that were sacrificed in the titanic effort to build a new world. The Soviet Empire crumbled, however, on the economy, because the existence of political freedoms is not possible without economic freedoms. So much so that all attempts to give '' a human face '' to communism have failed (last but not least Gorbachev's plan) because, even in the attempt to open up on a political level, they did not question the economic system.

To find evidence to confirm this, albeit summary, analysis, it is sufficient to note – in this moment of crisis – that Russia has a higher power over Europe than the tanks of the Warsaw Pact. The Kremlin has its hands on the yugular streak of energy supplies that affect the life and well-being of much of Europe. It is true: if we need to buy Russian gas and oil, Putin needs to sell it. In the meantime, however, it is on the energetic ground that the vaunted compactness of the Union still creaks. The great intuition of the European statesmen of the immediate post-war period was to create a common market for coal and steel (ECSC) or those resources whose domination had been the main reason for two world wars.

The West regroups on energy. The EU cannot cut ties with Russia until it finds substitutes for its energy needs. The war in Ukraine turned out to be Putin's mistake for this reason too. Taking advantage of the American disinterest in Europe (sensational on Trump's part), Russia, precisely because of its hegemony in the energy and raw materials field and the growing integration with the main European countries, had an important card to play: an understanding with the EU in an anti-US key. Putin wasted this opportunity; but the US and the European Union must cement the newfound unity with a Marshall Plan on energy.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Tue, 29 Mar 2022 05:51:09 +0000.