Friday, June 10, 2005

Spanish EU funding levels needed in Central Europe

Here is an interesting fact buried in an article at the Financial Times on the matter of the EU budget.

Madrid has received a net €93bn ($109bn) in EU funds since joining the union in 1986, a cash injection that surpassed US aid to Europe under the Marshall Plan after the second world war. EU funds have helped transform a once backward country into one of the eurozone's fastest growing economies, with modern highways and high-speed rail networks.

From Spain and the UK's EU budget rebate
The new member states of Central Europe certainly need a similar injection of funds. There was no Marshall Plan money in this region – the Stalinist communists who grabbed power under the watchful eye of the Red Army after WW2 refused the aid.

However Alberto Navarro, Spain's secretary of state for the European Union, goes on to say that -
“Spain should not pay for the full cost of enlargement while other countries get enlargement for free,” Mr Navarro said. “Financing enlargement should not be a question of taking money from Spain and giving it to the new member states.”

Quote from the above link
Where does he think all the money the EU poured into Spain came from? It came from the EU budget, and is money that was contributed / transferred by the other EU member states. The Spanish government's attitude does not surprise me as I am sure the Spanish government is nervous about the competition from Central Europe’s ambitious and growing economies.

It’s high time the nations of Central Europe put their heads together and took a united stand on this issue, rather than being sidetracked and split by the petty machinations of people like Chirac and Schroeder who are desperately trying to stem their own fall from grace. Central Europe's EU member states can expect no favours from these latter two, and if they do grant them any favours they should extremely wary of the subtext.

Sometimes I get the feeling that some in the EU would feel happier if the new EU member states stayed poor and put a sign on their respective doors that reads “Poor relations - open for exploitation” Still it could be worse the sign could read “Arbeit macht frei” but then let’s not forget there’s one of those already in Poland.