In general, peripheral countries have been affected much more strongly by the crisis than those considered central. This has increased the visibility of asymmetries and dependency within Europe, and hence processes of peripherialization. Experiences of the Latin American periphery and theoretical approaches produced in that context therefore provide a useful framework of analysis for the analysis of European peripheries. In addition, in order to deal with the different types of peripheral development and asymmetries within Europe, the regulation approach represents a complementary theoretical framework.
Development in Europe is characterized by different and asymmetrically linked growth regimes in different countries. Processes of accumulation, and the links between them are very diverse and show a high degree of complexity (Becker/Jäger 2012). However, in this present text just two different types of dominant growth strategies in the periphery are distinguished. Firstly, there are regimes of accumulation dominated by export-oriented growth strategies. This is the case for Germany, which is at the core of a Germany-centered productive system. Other countries such as Austria and parts of the central and Eastern European periphery are integrated into this, albeit in a sub-ordinated way. The accumulation in those countries is characterized mainly by productive developments. When the crisis reached Germany, those countries were affected immediately. Also the slight recovery in Germany based on rebounding exports had a direct impact on those countries. Secondly, there is a type of accumulation strategies characterized by dependent financialization. Until the outbreak of the crisis, capital inflows from the core countries were used to finance imports. This led to financialization and bubbles in those peripheral countries. When the crisis broke out, capital inflows collapsed, the basis for financialized models disappeared, and the bubbles burst. This also had a negative impact on the core countries because their exports to those countries suffered considerably. However, exports from the Germany-centered productive system to other European countries and above all the non-European countries increased and in part compensated for this reduction.
For those countries whose accumulation before the crisis was characterized by dependent financialization the basis for a new growth regime is still missing. This is for various reasons. On the one hand, it is because of stagnation in Europe’s core, high debts and austerity policy which in part has been directly imposed by the EU onto the periphery. On the other hand, limited control over monetary policy and the financial sector (in particular but not exclusively in Eurozone member countries), and the impossibility of adequate industrial and development policy within the neo-liberal competitive regime in Europe prevent the emergence of productive-oriented growth in the periphery. Hence, a further aggravationof the crisis in those peripheral countries is to be expected. However, the situation in the core is more stable and less crisis-prone, but only in relative terms. Unresolved problems in the financial sector may lead to another round of banking and financial crises also in the center. In addition, the new authoritarian and radicalized neo-liberal economic governance structure at the European level promotes stagnation not only in the European periphery but also in the core countries due to its anti-Keynesian bias (Jäger/Springler 2014).
“Anti-crisis management” and the implementation of the new economic governance structures within the EU were mainly driven by the German ruling class. As Cafruny (2014) argues, Germany is sufficiently strong to impose its policy on the rest of Europe but does not have the capacity nor the willingness to push for integrative growth strategies. This explains the lack of hegemony. Within the neo-liberal framework of the EU, peripheral countries have lost important elements of crucial policy instruments. Among those are monetary policy, development policy, and strategic state ownership, which in many cases are necessary to stimulate development in the periphery. Against the background of Latin American experiences and based on the insights of the dependency school, it seems important to become less dependent and to regain a higher degree of autonomy in order to promote effective development policies from within the peripheral countries (Becker et al. 2014). This has been shown clearly by the new development strategies which have been implemented in many Latin American countries in the past few years. Those strategies had emerged thanks to progressive political forces within the context of a crisis of neoliberalism. An important effect of this “development turn” was dynamic accumulation and decreasing inequality (Jäger/Leubolt 2014). However, to an important extent, growth was based on extractivist strategies of accumulation. Those strategies require the existence of abundant natural resources and have important social and economic contradictions (Veltmeyer/Petras 2014). However, the European peripheral states do not have similar amounts of natural resources. In addition, and more importantly, within the current structure of the EU, effective development strategies remain practically impossible. Moreover, given the correlation of social forces, the implementation of a more development-friendly policy framework at the level of the EU is extremely unlikely in theforeseeable future. Hence, the contradictions will become more pronounced,and a political radicalization with to some extent unpredictable outcomes is very likely.
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