November 26th, 2012
in Op Ed
European Union does not accept austerity for itself
by Dirk Ehnts, Econoblog101
Sure, the British government is using populist tactics in order entertain potential voter, but then why does this still leave a bad feeling? Here is the NY Times on the end (for now) of talks about the EU budget:
Cameron, playing to Eurosceptical images of Brussels “fat cats”, targeted the roughly 60 billion euros earmarked for EU salaries and benefits in 2014-20 for deep cuts, insisting that European officials endure similar reductions in numbers and pay as national officials in some countries.
He handed Van Rompuy a paper setting out ways to trim the bloc’s administration bill by 10 percent, including raising the retirement age for most officials from 63 to 68, and capping pensions at 60 percent of final salary instead of 70 percent.
“These are not dramatic changes,” a British official said of the proposals. “The Commission and others are telling the Greeks, Italians and others that they should put the retirement age up to 68.”
The official is right, of course. The European Union is dominated by people who think that other people should put their house in order by austerity reforms. These reforms do not work, the crisis does not go away and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel for Greece and Spain and a bunch of others which are more or less stagnating along. Now that Europe is in crisis, the same medicine that is given to periphery countries is not acceptable for Europe’s officials. And I bet that as soon as Germany would be affected by austerity policies imposed on her, the system would be changed.
What we have is a political problem at the European level. Discussions on the budget by comparison with austerity policies imposed elsewhere could in theory be beneficial. If they are, however, just excuses to turn to nationalist policies, then Europe as we know it is lost.
About the Author
Dr. Dirk Ehnts is a research assistant at the Carl-von-Ossietzky University of Oldenburg (Germany). His focus is on economic integration and economic geography, covering trade, macro and development. He is working at the chair for international economics since 2006 and has recently co-authored a book on Innovation and International Economic Relations (in German). Ehnts has written at his own blog since 2007: Econblog 101. Curriculum Vitae.