Wednesday, 26 September 2012

"The Cost of Non-Europe"

The European Economic and Social Committee (yet another EU committee I have never heard about) reports, under the headline "The Cost of Non-Europe",
On 18 September 2012, the EESC adopted an opinion on the cost of non-Europe, an issue which has resurfaced on the European agenda not only because it is important in mapping a way out of the financial crisis, but also because it is crucial to the success of the Europe 2020 strategy and the next Multiannual Financial Framework. It is a useful perspective from which to take forward the debate on pursuing European integration at a time of rising anti-European sentiment among citizens, growing populism and extremism.
The idea of the cost of non-Europe is not new; in 1988, Paolo Cecchini drew up a study for the European Commission on the cost of non-Europe in relation to the single market, which played a decisive role in the implementation of economic and monetary union. In its opinion Towards an updated study of the cost of non-Europe, the EESC is now proposing that Mr Cecchini's study be revamped to reflect current circumstances: the cost of incomplete integration in the context of the economic crisis.
This deserves a couple of comments: 1) The headline itself tells us this study will not be an objective one as it has already decided on the outcome (i.e. the cost. Who is to say the net result of non-Europe would be a profit, a significant profit?). If it was the case that each country had reduced government spending as a result of pooled costs and administration at EU level resulting in economies of scale, one could have argued that EU was an efficient solution for all. But this has definitely not been the case (check this report out). 2) Why pursue further integration "at a time of rising anti-European sentiment among citizens"? Such a statement comes as little surprise, as, according to Nigel Farage, the EU and especially the EMU, "is not un-democratic, but anti-democratic". We also take it that "growing populism and extremism" simply refer to the people that oppose the EMU as it has failed and to the people who are angry as they now have to pay for the policy mistakes and bail outs of banks. Referring to them in such terms, to desperate people that are left with few other alternatives other than to protest, is nothing short of political propaganda talk. Such talk only demonstrates what the EMU is all about: pushing forward for further integration at all costs, human and financial.

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