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Eastern Europe gives more to the west than it gets back. UE UE UE... Drukuj Email
Wpisał: Clotilde Armand, Financial Times   

Eastern Europe gives more to the west than it gets back.


Financial Times

Clotilde Armand 12 febr./ 2020

The writer, a Romanian MEP, is a member of the budget committee and sits with the centrist Renew Europe group


When EU leaders meet next week about the bloc’s next
seven-year budget they will be trying to solve a €1 tn riddle based on
a series of misconceptions. The budget talks are often miscast as a
showdown between whining eastern and central European countries asking
for more cash and frugal northerners insisting their generosity has

The richer countries paint themselves as charitable souls and
criticise eastern European voters for electing Eurosceptic autocrats
who pocket large EU cheques while railing against Brussels. But look
at the bigger picture and a different story unfolds.

Much of the wealth in Europe flows from poorer countries to richer ones — not the other way around.

Start with the brain drain. Europe’s periphery is
haemorrhaging young bright workers whose education was paid for by
taxpayers in their home countries. Between 2009 and 2015, Romania lost
half of its doctors. Every year, around 10 per cent of those that
remain are actively recruited by human resources agencies seeking
practitioners to treat greying western European countries. This is not
just a Romanian affair.

Poland lost at least 7 per cent of its nurses
and physicians in a decade. Surveys of Polish medical students show
that more than half plan to leave after graduating. In Bulgaria that
figure is 90 per cent. Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, has
already lost 5 per cent of its health practitioners. This exodus is a
de facto transfer of wealth — and a big one. A single doctor’s
education costs the Romanian public coffers around €100,000.That
spending does not appear in the EU budget negotiators’ spreadsheets
but it should. The annual drain of doctors alone represents more than
a quarter of the funding that the EU sets aside each year to help
Romania catch up with the rest of the club. Rich countries wishing to
slash EU funds for poorer regions also leave out other important
factors from the budget equation, such as transfers of private money.
The profits western European companies make in central and eastern
Europe far outstrip the public funding that is transferred to the

From 2010 and 2016, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia
received EU funds roughly equivalent to 2 to 4 per cent of their gross
domestic products. But the outflow of profits and property incomes to
the west from these countries over the same period ranges from 4 to 8
per cent of GDP.

These days, French voters may be fretting about Polish plumbers, but eastern European voters are getting nervous about French chief executives. At home in Bucharest, I shop in a
French-owned supermarket, and my phone operator and my water company
are French. I pay my gas bill to a French multinational, through a
French bank of course. EU membership has brought immense benefits to
central and eastern Europe, but western economies also profited
handsomely from the enlargement process.

It is high time politicians in the west explained that fact to their constituents — EU money is not charity. It is a quid pro quo. The idea that there are winners and losers in the EU budget game is simply wrong — we all benefit from the single market.

This trope is also politically dangerous. When eastern
Europe joined the EU, an unspoken pact was concluded. The east removed
trade barriers, allowing western companies to carve out a share of
their economies. In exchange, the west promised to transfer EU funds
eastward so the former communist bloc could build the infrastructure
it desperately needed. The west made profits; the east made progress.
The deal was mutually beneficial.

But if the west starts reneging on those promises now, they risk tearing up the European social contract.

Zmieniony ( 13.02.2020. )
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