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Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
Now, two years after the fall of the Berlin wall, it is possible to make an initial assessment of the effects of the political, economic and social unification of the two Germanies. There has been a conspicuous change in the climate of opinion in Germany itself: euphoria has swiftly given way to disenchantment, together with the risk of a second wall being created between East and West. The reason for this change resides principally in the fact that, in this initial phase, the costs of unification have been vastly underestimated: in short, the full extent of the economic disaster of the DDR was unknown. As things stand today, the need to put an entire economic system back on its feet – rebuilding crumbling infrastructure and recleansing a seriously damaged environment – is accompanied by the commitment to raise income and standards of living in East Germany to western levels in the space of a few years. If Germany is not to become the sick man of Europe, it will be necessary to address and solve three problems: the financing of the costs of unification, mainly through reallocation of public spending; correction of present wage trends in East Germany, by releasing salaries from rigid coupling with western collective bargaining, relating them instead to the real productivity of labour and the profits of the eastern firms that have to pay them; acceleration and simplification of the process of privatisation, with the rapid setting up of a business and real estate market.