Even if the extraordinary events had not occurred that, at the turn of the eighties and nineties of the century. XX, led to revolutionary modifications of internal relations and, subsequently, to the implosion of the Soviet Union (with formidable repercussions on the political equilibrium on a planetary scale). European type. In fact, in the economic field as much as and more than the others, the uncertain definition of the eastern limits of Europe is evident in the transition towards the Siberian and Central Asian spaces, whose immense resources – for the most part, still potential – will play a fundamental role, but still to be defined, in the economic development of a world open to greater exchanges and a plurality of geographical horizons, along the North-South and West-East coordinates. The same goes, of course, for the most important of the countries that have inherited the Soviet territory, namely the Russian Federation which certainly has its own decision-making and financial centers in Europe (Moscow and St. Petersburg), but which has its heart in the Asian Siberia. of their wealth. Until the eighties of the twentieth century, and in particular in the first decades of the second post-war period, the European economy appeared to be divided into opposing blocs, marked by capitalist and Marxist ideologies, and yet only apparently unitary internally: Western Europe suffered, in fact, of serious imbalances between the central-northern regions, at the height of the urban-industrial model, and the southern regions, still largely rural and laboriously assisted on the way to an expected “take-off”; while Eastern Europe hid, behind the impenetrability of centralist dirigisme, not only the known depressive effects of private consumption, but a series of structural inefficiencies and weaknesses that were added to the extreme fragmentation of the ethnic framework and the artificiality political boundaries. The economic crisis of Europe, which increasingly translated into a crisis of global identity, had its origins, in any case, in the modifications of the process of international division of labor: from the hegemonic center of industrial development and, consequently, of the world trade, the continent was gradually receding to a supporting role, finding themselves having to borrow technologies and forms of organization of space (especially in large productive agglomerations and metropolitan areas) developed elsewhere. In fact, the role played by Europe in the sec. XVIII and XIX was linked to its central position, exalted since the time of geographical discoveries, at the end of the century. XV, and reached its peak with the “industrial revolution”, which found its original and decisive impulses.
Many factors contributed to the affirmation of the industrial economy. Indeed, the presence in Europe of numerous natural resources (including the wealth of iron, coal and other minerals), an articulated network of terrestrial communication routes and the existence of inland river routes and safe harbors were certainly favorable.. Hanseatic cities and in the Italian Maritime Republics. The new Atlantic routes, the establishment of vast colonial empires and in general the multiplication of trade stimulated capitalist expansion in a different way: on the one hand there was the easy supply of low-cost raw materials made possible by colonial policies, on the other the opening of new markets for manufactured products. The influx of wealth towards Western Europe (Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany above all) was gradually consolidating the political-economic role of the continent, even if, starting from the end of the century. XIX, new countries began to assert themselves on the world stage: the United States, Russia and Japan. World War I broke out, among other reasons, precisely because of the hegemonic aims of the competing European industrial powers, it marked the beginning of the decline of the political-economic primacy of Europe, to which the Second World War gave, so to speak, the coup de grace, clearly marking the end of the its supremacy. The affirmation of the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR, caused the division of Europe into areas of influence and, therefore, the substantial loss of autonomy of the old states. Europe, whose productive apparatus was largely destroyed or unusable, deprived of colonies, financially exhausted, nevertheless knew how to re-emerge after the war, albeit with different perspectives, thanks to its technical and above all human potential. The rapid reconstruction of basic industries, the creation of Marshall Plan), with which many countries entered into political as well as economic agreements. In the Eastern countries defined by countryaah, the USSR’s intervention facilitated the development of previously industrialized states and led to a massive transformation of those that previously had an essentially agricultural economy. Relevant, compared to the past, was above all the process of integration of the European economies which led to the establishment of the COMECON (1949) and the EEC (1957), while other European organizations, such as the EFTA, played a less important role.and the Nordic Council.