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Les équilibres vitaux : la dépendance alimentaire de l'Europe

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  • Jean-Charles Asselain
  • Bertrand Blancheton

Abstract

[eng] Agricultural deficiencies and European food dependency. . Western Europe, before the War, relied on food imports from all other regions to cover its basic consumption needs. Whereas this pattern originated in Europe's domination on world production and international trade networks, it was to make European nations vulnerable in case of war and to constrain their strategical plans; preserving the most vital supplies remained a major challenge for European belligerents during war years. Prewar Europe was also characterized by sharp inequalities between rich industrial nations and poor agricultural nations with a much higher proportion of their workforce in agriculture; but the latter, whether wheat importers in Southern Europe or wheat exporters in Eastern Europe, were definitely below the former in absolute terms for agricultural productivity or yields. The War was the starting point of a "third agricultural revolution", which brought an unprecedently fast advance in agricultural productivity, resulted in a reversal of the agricultural trade balance from negative to positive, and initiated a catching up process throughout a major part of Europe. While agricultural development and industrialization were becoming more and more interdependent, Eastern Europe under the communist rule lagged behind, and the last decade by no means dissipated the uncertainties concerning its position in tomorrow's European agricultural economy. edently fast advance in agricultural productivity, resulted in a reversal of the agricultural trade balance from negative to positive, and initiated a catching up process throughout a major part of Europe. While agricultural development and industrialization were becoming more and more interdependent, Eastern Europe under the communist rule lagged behind, and the last decade by no means dissipated the uncertainties concerning its position in tomorrow's European agricultural economy. [fre] L'Europe occidentale d'avant-guerre est largement dépendante des importations pour son alimentation de base. C'est à la fois le signe d'une domination mondiale, qui lui a permis d'orienter le développement des réseaux de production et d'échanges agricoles selon ses propres besoins, mais aussi -à la veille de la guerre - un facteur de vulnérabilité, qui conditionne les choix stratégiques des belligérants et qui affectera directement le sort des populations durant le conflit. Le continent, cependant, est loin d'être homogène : à l'Europe industrielle des pays riches s'oppose l'Europe agricole des pays pauvres, où le fort taux d'actifs agricoles s'accompagne en général d'un retard technique et d'un faible niveau de productivité, aussi bien en Europe de l'Est, exportatrice de céréales, qu'en Europe du Sud, tributaire des importations comme l'Europe occidentale. Mais la « troisième révolution agricole », dont la dernière guerre marque le point de départ en Europe, a permis des gains de productivité sans précédent, une inversion du solde céréalier pour de nombreux pays longtemps déficitaires et l'amorce d'un alignement par le haut dans une grande partie de l'Europe. Dans un monde où industrialisation et développement agricole sont toujours plus solidaires, l'Europe de l'Est a vu son retard relatif s'accentuer durant la période communiste : d'où l'incertitude sur sa place dans l'Europe agricole de demain.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Charles Asselain & Bertrand Blancheton, 2000. "Les équilibres vitaux : la dépendance alimentaire de l'Europe," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 51(2), pages 195-212.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:reveco:reco_0035-2764_2000_num_51_2_410507
    Note: DOI:10.3406/reco.2000.410507
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre DELFAUD, 2016. "A look back on a unique experiment in interventionism in market economies: the European Common Agricultural Policy (1955 – 2015)," Cahiers du GREThA 2016-09, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    2. Stéphane BECUWE & Bertrand BLANCHETON & Karine ONFROY, 2015. "French International Trade, dataset 1836-1938 Montesquieu Database," Cahiers du GREThA 2015-35, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.

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