Is the EU’s enlargement over-stretched?

Visit of Egemen Bağış, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator for Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU to the European Commission (on the left, seen from the back), László Andor, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (on the right) and Štefan Füle, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (in the centre), (EC Audio-visual Services, 10/04/2013).

Visit of Egemen Bağış, Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator for Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU to the European Commission (on the left, seen from the back), László Andor, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (on the right) and Štefan Füle, Member of the EC in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy (in the centre), (EC Audio-visual Services, 10/04/2013).

The myth that the European Union is a seamless economic volume is belied not only after the latest developments, with Berlin and Paris working hard to institutionalise the fragmentation of EU’s financial markets. The dysfunction is also depicted by hard-core macroeconomic and labour market statistics. Again it’s not only the huge differences in the relative numbers of the unemployed in various EU member states, but more so the extreme differences prevailing in wages and salaries, which appear usuay when comparing first and third world economies. Differences of the order of the multiple of 12 are not only quantitative. They reveal also quality differences in the organisations of everyday life in different member states.

Qualitative differences

It’s like developing and developed countries trying to live under the same roof, follow the same economic policies and rules and sell their products in the same market. Those differences are less striking in the Eurozone of the 17 countries, where all of them belong more or less to the category of developed economies. Still the last four years of economic crisis and deep recession in many Eurozone member states have greatly increased the differences in key variables like, unemployment, hourly and yearly earnings even within the euro area. The unemployment explosion in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and elsewhere stand as an infallible witness of diverging futures within the EU.                         

                        

              Median gross hourly earnings, all employees (in euro)

earnings hourly median

It is however even more discouraging to watch and hear the Brussels dignitaries to talk all the time about interdependence and the need for common economic governance rules in the EU. It is as if the Bulgarian and the Danish working people have anything in common regarding their families’ lodging, nourishment, schooling, health care, environment and quality of life in general. Of course such comparisons are only possible if the Bulgarian or the Greek worker has an employment, God knows how he survives if he hasn’t.

Despite all that, Brussels insist that all those poor EU countries in order to remain in the Union or in Eurozone need to apply centrally planned restrictive fiscal policies and severe austerity measures, in reality depriving thus their real economy of any growth potential. Also not to forget that consumers and small businesses in poor countries like Romania and Portugal do not enjoy the same financial market conditions as their counterparts in Belgium and the Netherlands, concerning borrowing opportunities and interest rate costs. In many EU countries new consumer and business loans have disappeared.

At the same time all the EU 27 countries belong to the single internal market, where every restriction on movement of goods or market rules differences have been abolished. As if the Bulgarian and Greek firms could compete with the German industrial giants on a level play field market, which is today the EU. Experience has proved by now that the fact all the 27 countries operate under exactly the same market conditions, has invariably led to the impoverishment of the poor and enrichment of the rich countries. The ongoing crisis has only aggravated this tendency. On top of that the imposition of the same macro and micro economic policies seem to have seriously and irrevocably undermine the future of the developing countries within the EU.

Rich and poor workers

No, the Swedish and the Romanian workers do not have the same problems. To be convinced about that it suffices to read what follows here bellow. According to Eurostat, the EU statistical service, the average hourly labour costs and the structure of labour costs varied widely across the EU Member States in 2012. Hourly labour costs ( arithmetic mean) in the business economy (industry, constructions and services) ranged from €38.44 in Denmark, €37.70 in Belgium and €41.9 in Sweden, to €3.7 in Bulgaria. Eurostat notes that these figures cover not only wages and salaries (gross earnings) as well as social contributions paid by the employer but also vocational training costs, taxes and other expenditure paid by the employer less the subsidies received by the employer.

Understandably the same huge differences prevail in the annual wages. Always according to Eurostat, “Among EU Member States, in 2010 the mean (average) gross annual earnings of full-time employees in enterprises employing ten employees or more were highest in Denmark (€58,840), followed by Luxembourg (€49,316), the Netherlands (€45,215), Ireland (€45,207, in 2009), Belgium (€43,423) and Germany (€42, 400). On the other hand, the lowest mean gross annual earnings were registered in Romania (€5,891) and Bulgaria (€4,396)”.

Conflicting interests

Such differences in wages may hide directly conflicting interests, between Bulgarian and Greek workers on the one side and German and Swedish ones on the other. For one thing the German and the Swedish businesses for example, in order to be able to pay such high wages to their personnel, they obviously needed the freedom to sell their products completely unobstructed in Bulgaria and Greece, as it is the case today. From one point of view this is exactly “la raison d’être” of the European Union. The EU offers a level play field for the more competitive ones to exploit the others. In reality it seems that this huge single internal market is gradually becoming an insurmountable impediment for the growth of the less competitive.

Unfortunately the unemployed of the less productive countries don’t even have the possibility to emigrate and seek a better life in the rich countries of the EU, despite all the rhetoric about the freedom of movement of labour. Remember what happened to the Romanian Roma in France last year? In the USA probably exist similar differences in wages and salaries between the different states and regions, but people are completely free to travel and work where ever they want. In the EU it is out of question for Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese unemployed to hang around in the parks and the squares of German and the Swedish cities and towns waiting to find work. They got to have a job within two months, otherwise they can be expelled to their country of origin.
All in all the European Union has rather over-stretched its enlargement abilities and this seems today to be in the heart of all its problems.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

From Israel’s ‘start-up nation’, 4 lessons in innovation

Syria: Why did the US now take the Russian offer for a truce? What next?

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

Schools in Florida now have to teach mental and emotional health

How each country’s share of global CO2 emissions changes over time

The AI doctor won’t see you now

Bangladesh: Head of UN refugee agency calls on Asia-Pacific leaders to show ‘solidarity’ with Rohingya refugees

Main results of G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina

A Sting Exclusive: “Digital and mobile technologies are helping to achieve an economic success in Spain”, the Spanish Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Information Society Víctor Calvo-Sotelo reveals to the Sting at Mobile World Congress 2015

ECB with an iron hand disciplines the smaller Eurozone member states; latest victim: Greece

This is how companies are working together to create a world without waste

European Commission adopts rules to ensure a smooth transition to its next President and the next College of Commissioners

Eurozone: Retail sales betray economic frailty

Systems leadership can change the world – but what exactly is it?

Statement on the Code of Practice against disinformation: Commission asks online platforms to provide more details on progress made

Will the three major parties retain control of the new EU Parliament?

Help prevent children ‘from becoming victims in the first place’, implores Guterres at campaign launch

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

Business should be joyful – just ask the sports world

Colombia offers nationality rights to Venezuelan children born there: UN hails ‘very important step’

Is the European Banking Union an impossible task?

Crimea, a wicked game of political chess and a ‘big’ coincidence

Tackling the toxic norms that hold women back in Asia

Nearly 900 reportedly killed following ‘shocking’ intercommunal attacks in DR Congo

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Have Europe’s Ukrainian wounds begun to heal?

Mother of all mergers between Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram: EU Data Privacy restrictions against Facebook’s imperialistic plans

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

What Ghana can teach us about integrating refugees

Eurozone: The cycle of deficits, debts and austerity revisited

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

Two shipwrecks add to ‘alarming increase’ in migrant deaths off Libya coast: IOM

Restrictions, unmet promises, unbridled violence in Sudan, a ‘recipe for disaster’, says Bachelet

Berlin’s governing elite leads Eurozone to recession to win the September election in Germany

South Africa’s SMEs should be first in line for a digital upgrade

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

5 ways students can graduate fully qualified for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Here’s how to find a job you really love

Medschool 4.0: how to succeed in the smart revolution of healthcare

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

Erasmus+ 2021-2027: more people to experience learning exchanges in Europe

Eurostat overturns Commission’s assessment of the economy

US resolution to condemn activities of Hamas voted down in General Assembly

These are the world’s most fragile states in 2019

EU Border and Coast Guard: new corps of 10 000 border and coast guards by 2027

This is what the world’s CEOs really think of AI

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2019

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

Finland has giant supermarkets that only stock second-hand goods

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

Largest joint UN humanitarian convoy of the war, reaches remote Syrian settlement

Is Britain to sail alone in the high seas of trade wars?

The European Parliament wants to stay in one place

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

The untold story of who caused and who pays for the economic crisis

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s