The European Union now and in the future
|Are the member-states paying too much?||What does a member-state get in return?||Insane agricultural policy?|
|Moving every month, is it really neccesary?||Accession low-wage countries?||Accession of Turkey?|
|The Treaty of Lisbon/the new constitution?|| European Emergency Fund?
Are the member-states paying too much? Every year each member state has to transmit an amount of their national income to the European Union. Part of that annual amount we, on our part, receive in the form of several grants. Until 1992 the Netherlands received more money from the EU than it transmitted, but is has been the opposite ever since. Some say that the Netherlands is paying too much to the EU.
What does a member-state get in return? Most member-states benefit from the European cooperation: thanks to this cooperation a lot of countries earn extra amounts of money. In addition, a country like the Netherlands can deal with issues that cross the border like criminality. And of course there is the possibility of free travelling, living, working and studying in all the member-states of the European Union.
Insane agricultural policy? If the European agriculture was exposed to the competition on the world market, few companies would survive because the prices on the world market are low. Economically speaking this is fine and called market working. On the other side there is the possibility that, for nutrition, Europe could get dependent on foreign countries. That’s why European farmers have been protected from the low prices on the world market. The agricultural policy was developed according to the principle of ‘the more you produce, the more money you earn’.
But without a hold on the production huge reserves arose. For instance, the European Union had a mountain of butter, a pond of milk and so on. Besides that, the farmers from outside the European Union had little opportunity to sell their products in Europe. The conversion of the agricultural policy has been going on for years. In the future farms will receive direct income support, instead of money, for more production. That system will be applied until the end of 2013.
After that European grants will only be awarded to companies that produce in an eco-friendly manner, that meet certain quality criteria, that pay attention to animal welfare en that take care of their land. At the same time there is support for innovation and the transfer to products that have a better market position.
Accession low-wage countries? All citizens of the European Union can work in the entire EU. The past years many people from Poland, Bulgaria and Romania have come to our country to work. Are they stealing our jobs? Often these Eastern Europeans do heavy or dirty work that Western Europeans do not want to deal with. Or they do things that unemployed people can’t do because of insufficient education. Also, the Western European population is ageing which means that our labour force will decrease. This is not good for the production growth and makes countries in the Western European Union unattractive for foreign entrepreneurs. The arrival of the Eastern Europeans contributes to solving these problems on the labour market. Moreover, their arrival leads to more competition on the labour market. Because of this the labour costs can decrease, which is beneficial to the export of countries in the West of the European Union.
Moving every month, is it really necessary? Brussels is also called the headquarters of the European Union. This is only partially true. Officially Brussels is only one of three workplaces of the European Parliament. The other two locations are Strasbourg in France and Luxembourg. Nearly all meetings take place in Brussels but once a month, during the so-called plenary meeting of the European Parliament, the entire Parliament transfers to Strasbourg. During this removal six removal vans drive up and down the 450 kilometres between Brussels and Strasbourg. In addition, 700 government officials travel by plane, train or car. Brussels would be a more logical choice because of the city’s central location and the presence of all equipment there. But for the entire European Parliament to move to Brussels each member state has to approve this removal. And France doesn't agree to this. Thus, for the time being we will be stuck to Strasbourg and a monthly transfer!
Accession Turkey? Since October 2008 Turkey has made clear that it wants to be part of the EU but until now it is still uncertain if Turkey will be granted access to the EU or not. There are many entry requirements to which Turkey should comply in order to be able to join the EU. So far there has been some improvement but that is still not enough.
Additionally there are many countries, like France, Germany, Austria and Poland, that don't want Turkey to be part of the EU. And each member state of the EU has to give permission. The Netherlands has multiple criticisms as well. In general people think that Turkey can be important to Europe in the future. Especially regarding economics, transport, energy and combating terrorism. Furthermore, Turkey has good connections with the Arabic world. But for now it is still not clear whether Turkey will actually enter the EU.
The Treaty of Lisbon/the new constitution? On December 1st of 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon was formulated in order to make the EU more democratic and manageable. It took quite some time for this Treaty to be adopted by all countries (especially the Netherlands and France were opposed). In the end the Treaty of Lisbon can actually be seen as a Treaty and not as a constitution.
Practically speaking the new treaty has some direct effects. Because of this treaty there now exists a yellow card with which national parliaments have gained more influence. Besides that a member state can now decide to approach the European Court of Justice when it thinks an issue can be better dealt with on an international level. Also, the European Parliament has more influence and european civilians as well, through for instance petition campaigns. Since its formulation in 2009 the Treaty of Lisbon has been adapted because of the economical crisis starting in December 2010.
European Emergency Fund? People in Europe started to panic when Greece, back in 2010, couldn’t pay her debts any more because of the financial crises. The country had a way too big budgetary deficit and the European Union had to help Greece out. After that the EU came to an agreement to establish an Emergency Fund to which countries in need could appeal. The main reason for the establishment of this fund is the protection of the Euro; a steady coin is of utmost importance for all European countries.