(official EU image)
As a European citizen I have often been wondering, what the European Union actually has been doing for me recently. Therefore I was positively surprised to find a clear and concise answer to my questions at the official European Union website.
The following text is attached to the EU video "Europe and you":
Have you ever wondered what exactly is that the European Union does for you? If so, this video provides the answer with a brief glimpse at 10 actions that have been put in place over the past year and that will make a real difference in the lives of each and everyone of us.
The first - and probably the most important - point in the "documentary" is:
"Securing a sound economy and stronger financial markets".
That´s really great, I thought. While e.g. the US has had to deal with the consequenses of the financial crisis, at least Brussels last year "secured a sound economy" and even "made the financial markets stronger".
Then I happened to see this article in the Economist:
Real output in the euro zone remains well below the pre-recession peak. Even in Germany, a rapid recovery has left a big GDP hole, and the euro zone ex-Germany has very nearly been moving sideways. A lacklustre output recovery has translated into lagging labour markets. Germany's unemployment rate fell in September, but joblessness for the euro zone as a whole rose, from 10% to 10.1%. The pain is worst in the struggling peripheral economies; in Spain the unemployment rate has risen steadily since April and is now at 20.8%.
At the same time workers are struggling, governments are pushing through painful austerity packages. Some of the countries battered by bond markets began cutting in 2010. But as the chart at right indicates, everyone gets into the game in 2011, and cuts in most countries will intensify. Across the whole of the euro area, cuts worth about 1% of GDP will be pushed through, but the austerity will be focused on the parts of the euro economy that are performing the worst—Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Greece
Well, people make mistakes. In a huge bureaucracy like the EU, video producers might inadvertently have ended up using some not quite fresh material. They would not make things up, would they?
The other really important EU achievement in 2010 was this, according to the EU video:
"creating new jobs"
Great, I thought. At least the EU in 2010 created a lot of new jobs in a crisis-ridden world. Then I went to the official Eurostat website, and found the following information for 2010:
Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate fell in eleven Member States, remained stable in two and increased in fourteen. The largest falls were observed in Estonia (16.1 % to 14.3 % between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010), Malta (7.2 % to 6.1 %) and Sweden (8.9 % to 7.9 %). The highest increases were registered in Greece (9.7 % to 12.9 % between the third quarters of 2009 and 2010), Hungary (11.0 % to 12.6 %) and Lithuania (15.9 % to 17.4 % between the fourth quarters of 2009 and 2010). Between January 2010 and January 2011, the unemployment rate for males fell from 9.9 % to 9.8 % in the euro area and from 9.7 % to 9.6 % in the EU-27. The female unemployment rate increased from 10.0 % to 10.1 % in the euro area and from 9.3 % to 9.5 % in the EU-27. In January 2011, the youth unemployment rate (those aged below 25) was 19.9 % in the euro area and 20.6 % in the EU-27. In January 2010 it was 20.2 % and 20.7 % respectively. The lowest rates were observed in the Netherlands (7.8 % ), Austria (8.0 % ) and Germany (8.3 % ), and the highest in Spain (43.1 % ), Slovakia (37.7 % ) and Lithuania (34.4 % in the fourth quarter of 2010).
Not a lot of jobs created: unemployment fell in nine member countries and increased in fourteen.
For me, this was enough. The Brussels gravy train eurocrats seem to be so blinded be their own cosy and luxurious world, that they think ordinary people are prepared to accept any dishonest "facts" they try to peddle.
Maybe that the "common charger" for mobile phones - one of the points in the video - actually was the single most important EU achievement last year? (I don´t know, and I don´t care, since I am able to charge my old Nokia quite well with the original charger. And by the way, has anybody seen the beautiful new eurocharger after the PR-picture was taken?)
I know that the EU "achievments" video must have been discussed at a great number of lengthy eurocrat "working group" meetings in Brussels. The representatives of all the different "DG´s" were asked to contribute "achievements" that would be popular among ordinary Europeans. Finally an "über" working group chose the most appealing proposals to be included in the video. The video is certainly considered to be an important part of the EU´s campaign to "reach out". After all the arduous work, one can only wonder, why the final product is less than impressive. Could it be, that there actually is not very much to boast with in addition to the common charger?