In 2000, the EU committed to creating the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy. The digits of the plans changed fast (Europe 2010, Europe 2020), but the rapid digitization did not come. In comparative terms, we have not advanced, but regressed. According The EconomistWhile at the beginning of this century Europe had 41 of the 100 largest companies in the world, today it has 15. And falling, because our multinationals are older and we did not create the technological giants of the United States or China. Europe is getting smaller. In 2000 we represented a third of world GDP. Today, a quarter. Of course, no one beats us against futuristic dreams.
We Spaniards are also good at foresight. Our politicians frequently resort to grandiloquent speeches, combining traditional economic jargon (“change of production model”) with the most recent of self-help (“resilience”, “transformation”), an indicative sign of their psychological objective: to raise national morale. . And it is not bad, and neither is the Spain 2050 project, unfairly caricatured in some media. It is a serious roadmap, drawn up by reputable experts, that accurately breaks down our immediate challenges and points out interesting solutions in its long 676 pages.
The problem with our plans is not their (dense) writing, but their (tenuous) implementation. In general, they are not fulfilled, because there is a mismatch between the interests of politicians and society. It occurs in any country, but in Spain, thanks to economic historians like Leandro Prados de la Escosura, we can quantify it. The data suggest that, at least since the Middle Ages, the Achilles heel of our economy has been political vagaries. Spain entered the modern age with strong growth, but the political decision to maintain the ruinous European empire led to a long period of decline around 1570.
We also stayed away from the most competitive economies in the 19th and 20th centuries, when we averaged one government per year, until we regained ground between 1950 and 2007 – half under the shadow of Francoism, with many negative social effects, half under the light of democracy-. What has helped our economy over time has not been changing plans, but stable governments. @VictorLapuente