Show Me the Money: Trouble in the EU

    June 18, 2005

As with all government concerns all the time, money and budgets lie at the heart of the current EU “deep crisis” and it’s not going to end any time soon.

The latest EU summit ended Friday amid European leaders arguing over their share of the budgetary pie. Right now Britain receives a fairly hefty rebate from fund Britain pays into the EU, worked into the mix by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and current Tony Blair won’t let it go without a fight. The rebate comes to about 5.5 billion euros a year. He says the only way they’ll consider giving up the rebate is for the EU farm subsidy system to be completely overhauled.

French president Jacques Chirac won’t budge on that budgetary issue, particularly since he’s built a reputation as a friend to French farmers. The farm subsidies account for 40% of the EU budget and the agricultural situation could change dramatically as other nations prepare to enter the EU in coming years. Some of who have strong agricultural output.

Several countries also want to reduce their annual output to the EU. The Netherlands and Sweden both fall into that group. The Netherlands is also particularly relevant as they recently voted down the EU constitution along with France.

The EU constitutional crisis continues to loom in the background over all other affairs on the continent. Both France and the Netherlands involved have developed real problems with some nations coming into the fold of the EU. France attracted a lot of attention when groups began a PR campaign to keep Poland out on fear that Polish workers would take away jobs in France, already suffering from double-digit unemployment rates. The Polish plumber campaign was countered by the Polish, who put up a website of sexy Polish plumber.

Another big point of contention is Turkey. Turkey would be the only predominantly Islamic country in EU and many, like the Netherlands who’ve had problems with Islamic immigrants fitting into the open culture the Netherlands are known for have been openly vocal about it, or certainly it’s people have. Turkey also has the largest poor populations in Europe and many feel that many of those people would migrate to other places in Europe, which circles back to the job issues.

There are a number of other big nation issues facing the floundering EU at this point beside internal problems. The aircraft manufacturer Airbus has attracted the attention of the U.S. and Boeing because of loans the company was given by EU member nations. Then of course is the textile trade rift with China. Both situations are being worked the WTO but it’s anybody’s guess how these situations will turn out.

Europe has been building this bloc for 50 years now, really since the end of WWII to prevent things like WWII from happening again. It would seem that they still have a long way to go and the vast multicultural issues that faced them then are still quite evident today.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.