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Archive for 17. Februar 2020

Make Europe Boring Again!

Posted by hkarner - 17. Februar 2020

Date: 13‑02‑2020

Source: The Economist: Charlemagne

The EU celebrates an outbreak of dull stability by having petty rows

For much of the past decade, if you asked a Eurocrat: “What’s on your mind?”, the response was usually dramatic. At the start of the decade the euro teetered on the edge of collapse. In the middle of it, Greece came close to being kicked out. A crisis flared when nearly 3m asylum‑seekers arrived from Syria and other troublespots. Shortly after that, Britain, then the eu’s second‑largest economy, voted to leave without a serious plan for doing so. Meanwhile, populists from across the spectrum itched to upturn the comfy order that those in Brussels were attempting to build. In short, life in Brussels was exciting. For years, officials had treated the city like a visit to a proctologist: necessary but disagreeable. Suddenly, the eu’s de facto capital became like a political rollercoaster—terrifying, but strangely thrilling, too.

Those days are over. Brussels has become reassuringly dull again. Ask a passing Eurocrat what’s up and the answer is prosaic: haggling over the eu’s budget. When eu leaders next visit Brussels on February 20th, it will be to discuss the bloc’s spending. Britain’s departure has left a hole of €60bn in the eu’s funding. Spread over seven years and between 27 countries, the sum becomes easier to swallow. The upshot is that, to keep spending roughly the same, eu countries are being asked to cough up between 1% and 1.1% of gross national income—only a whisker more than last year.

To spice things up, diplomats from both ends of the debate are behaving as if a gap of 0.1% of their income—the equivalent of a cold snap in winter or a few wet weeks in summer—is a fiscal Mariana Trench. A hard‑core gang consisting of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Austria have demanded that the eu spend no more than 1% of its members’ gni. Another group, led by those countries from central and eastern Europe that gorge on handouts from Brussels, are refusing to sign off on anything so paltry as a budget of 1%. “They want the till to open!” despaired one diplomat from the tightwad camp. With no agreement in sight, leaders from 27 member‑states will spend at least two days arguing over a pitiful amount of money, like monks having a punch‑up over the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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