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Summary - Государства Альпийского региона и страны Бенилюкс в меняющейся Европе

The authors of this book examine two groups of so-called «small European countries» — those, which are situated in Alpine region (Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein) and countries of Benelux (Belgium, the Nederlands, Luxemburg). The main attention is paid to the problems of domestic and international policy, the government structure and economy. The historical analysis ranges 15–20 years with some inroads to the earlier periods of these countries’ development.

The authors conclude that the experience, accumulated by the given countries, reflects their specific character. At the same time elements of their political and socioeconomic models can be applied under certain circumstances to the other European countries.

Following in general West European model, «small European countries» has managed to articulate their own position as receptive for solutions not only in favour of requirements of various alliances (both military-political, as NATO and economic-political, as EU), but also in favour of fundamental national interests. As a result two foreign policy systems were formed. One of them — the Alpine, based on the neutral status of Austria and Switzerland and on the informal neutrality of Lichtenstein. The other one — Benelux countries’ foreign policy system may be determined as a moderate euroatlantism. But if the SwitzerlandLichtenstein variant relies on the traditional avoidance of any block policy, the Austrian variant doesn’t exclude the situation when the country adjusts its neutral status to the military-political structure within EU, which is expected to appear in parallel with NATO.

It is also possible to foresee that the special features of «small European countries» will be used in further models of integration. The variant of Switzerland, for example, implies rather difficult integration in the EU, involving complicated negotiations dependent on public opinion in a country. The Austrian variant demonstrates the painful process of adaptation of a newcomer to the existed and developed institutions and principals of the EU. The variant of the Benelux countries is characterized by a certain increase of importance of these countries and the roles played by their leaders on a new stage of EU development. All in all six «small European countries» make the «Large Europe» to take into consideration the peculiarities of their foreign and domestic policy.

The increasing role of the «small European countries» as the players of the European and world economy became also evident. These countries belong to the leading group of the Old World’s economy. During the last 15–20 years the industrial giants of the Netherlands and Switzerland have shown results on par with the highest world’s standards. Some holding companies of Belgium and Luxemburg have also become rather important. The banking and financial systems of «the small countries» occupy a significant place in Europe’s economy. Some kind of «antimodel» of welfare improvement at the expense of liberal tax regulation has been created. As a consequence the local offshores have become «a thorn in the flesh» both for European and for the world community.

The certain contribution was made by the small countries in the sphere of social relations. The system of social partnership in the countries of Alpine region, «polder model» in the Netherlands, and «three parties’ system» in Luxemburg — all these conciliatory mechanisms work rather effectively. They help to avoid sharp social conflicts, making the important contribution to the welfare of all the population groups in the countries of «small Europe». On the other hand the lack of solution of immigration problems in these countries hampered positive decision of questions, concerning with the inflow of the people who belong to another ethnic and religious groups. The problem of adapting the principals of the social state to the «new Europeans» needs hasn’t been solved as well.

In the last years the partypolitical system of the concerned countries has undergone the definite evolution. The traditional triad — conservative (Christian Democrats), liberal, socialdemocratic (socialist) parties has been joined by with the parties of radical nationalists and greens. The former (in such countries as Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland) got the possibility of sharing power but couldn’t preserve government posts, and the latter abandoned political struggle for different reasons. At the same time, the established coalitions are in the permanent crisis. The example of «the wide coalition» in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and especially partypolitical system of Belgium, complicated with the «regional question», can be drawn.

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