Saturday, 29 May 2010

EU study: Small countries profit massively from EU accession

According to a recent study (only partially public) of the European Executive Agency for Small and Medium Size Member States (EEA-SMSMS), tiny states profit most from the accession to the European Union.

The study finds, for example, that 50% of Maltese work for the EU as translators or in similar jobs directly or indirectly financed by the EU institutions.

An expert from Cyprus (who asked not be named because his Greek mother is the secretary of Slovenian President Türk) found that while there is only 1 Member of the European Parliament (MEP) per 100 million German speaking EU citizens, 1 in 10 Luxembourgers did make it into the European Assembly at the last local elections. If the study's calculations are correct, this is approximately 99% of the Luxembourg population that earns less than the MEP salary.

The Estonian Director of the Agency, Mr. Väikemaa, also told me in an interview that his country of origin, Latvia, had split itself from its northern region Lithuania in the late 1980s to gain extra points on the EU tininess scale in order to profit from the EU's Small Country Funds (SFCs) that are distributed indirect proportionally to the size of a country's population and the actual needs of the recipients.

In it's last chapter, the EEA-SMSMS study however comes to the conclusion that large member states should receive a compensation for the support they give to the SMS countries. It proposes to move the seat and the 75,000 employees of the SMSMS agency every 73 days (a compromise between 10 years proposed by a former French president and 1 day proposed by a Polish plumber) in random order between London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid and Warsaw.

The UK press has already reacted positively with long, well-argued articles, considering inter alia the different options of splitting up Great Britain in its original shires while raising the amount of British contributions to the EU budget. Unnamed sources close to Catherine Ashton have even confirmed that she wants to be the Queen of Upholland in case this decision is taken until the end of 2025, that is 10 years before the end of her term and 5 years before the end of the Liberal-UKIP coalition David Cameron has proposed from 2015.

I don't have time to go deeper into the matter now, but it looks like the study is going to cause more positive reactions all across Europe and so I really recommend that everyone takes the time to read it*. Comments can be send to herman@vanrompuy.nl-be-fr.

* It is available online under smallbutrich.eu and in bookstores all across China.

6 comments:

Dick Nieuwenhuis said...

Julien,
was this written after a late night Place Lux session with some attractive MEP assistants? Not sure where the serious starts and where the jokes end. Anyway, the study is interesting reading (had a first glace only), written in 2003 by Paul Magnette, than academic now a full time politician and the rising star of the PS Belgique!
2003, by the way, was one year before we had the big bang EU Wiedervereinigung.
Skol!

Julien Frisch said...

You may understand that I won't go into details of my Friday evening activities on this blog…

But I can tell that I found the study only after I had half-written the post. :-)

Dick Nieuwenhuis said...

You're damned lucky I am too busy on Friday evening (see @broedermin). But I will ask the EU Geek Girls Squad under the presidency of @kattebel to spy on you at Place Lux on Friday evenings!!
;-)

Grahnlaw said...

Julien,

On a fairly sober note, Saturday afternoon, there are at least two areas with different aspects to look at:

1) The European Council and Council build on sovereign states, which at least formally gives the smallest one a seat at the table, although the votes are weighted.

On the other hand, the latest Franco-German colloquium on EU relations has again trumpeted that "nothing" happens in the European Union, without agreement between France and Germany (if they only are able to agree, which looks increasingly uncertain).

Smaller member states often feel that the bigger members ride roughshod over their interests, a feeling probably acerbated by the increasingly intergovernmental nature of the union (and the weakening of the Commission).

2) The degressive proportionality of the European Parliament means that the smallest member states are hugely over-represented.

This would have to change, if and when the (new) EU is founded on democratic principles, because each vote should have roughly the same weight.

A hidden over-representation lies in the fact that MEPs from countries with opt-outs are allowed to vote on issues where their country takes no responsibility.

Julien Frisch said...

@Grahnlaw

I see that you want to enter into serious discussions where I was just mixing up discussions and stereotypes by playing around with words and links. ;-)

Dick Nieuwenhuis said...

Julien,
Young man! Your (old) readers take you for a serious man! So don't write anymore blogs when coming back from Place Lux!!
Santé!
:-)))))