The squabbling among the EU member states is on the increase. As was reported by Presseurop on April 5, 2011, Italy is drawing up a decree to prevent French interests from taking over Parmalat, its agrifood industry flagship.
Another flash point has been on policy over Libya in 2011. The French, who sold Gadhafi Mirage fighters back in 1970, were, under President Sarkozy, engaged in mobilizing the aerial attacks on Gadhafi’s Libya along with Britain in an effort to force him out. But, the same President Sarkozy only three-years earlier had warmly welcomed the Libyan dictator at the Elysee Palace and denounced “those who excessively and irresponsibly criticized the Libyan leader.” Sarkozy announced to the press that, “He (Gadhafi) is the longest serving head of state in the region,” as he rolled out the red carpet for Gadhafi.
In contrast to France and Britain, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s Prime Minister at that time, maintained a close relationship with Gadhafi, and sought avenues for a negotiated and honorable exit for the dictator rather than war.
Immigration is another contentious point between Italy and France. The Italian Island of Lampedusa has served as an entry point to the EU from North Africa. The Italians, who must cope with the unwanted immigrants, resent the French who are stopping Tunisians escapees from the revolution at the France-Italian border and sending them back to Italy.
The EU’s differences in fiscal policies undermined Ireland. In 1998, the growth rate of the Irish economy was 12%, while the average in the rest of the EU states was 2%. To cool the heated economy and protect against inflation, Ireland needed to raise its interest rates. At the same time, in the euro-zone, interest rates were lowered to 3%. The Irish economy began to slide down, and investment in the economy in the third quarter of 2011 fell to its lowest level since records began in 1997.
Members of the 17 euro-zone ECB Board of Directors are unable to set a uniform fiscal policy that would regulate interest rates in these respective states, and the politicians of the same states would not entrust their national destinies in the hands of a bunch of unelected bureaucrats. With the national currency — a traditional symbol of sovereignty and independence — already gone in the euro-zone, a piece of democracy has gone along with it. Moreover, a supra-national body such as the ECB cannot possibly reflect the interests of each individual state.
The euro-zone monetary union is ineffective without coordination among the 17 member-states on other economic aspects of micro-economics, such as taxation of capital gain, etc. The result is an imbalance in the national economies – precisely why Britain declined to join the euro-zone.
As the Greek economy goes south, others, like Portugal, Spain, and Italy, might soon follow, creating what might become a north-south divide in Europe. Today, newspapers in Greece and Italy are already carrying digitally altered pictures of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Nazi uniform moving across southern Europe. The “ugly German” is back, blamed for driving other nations into poverty.
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