Montag, 8. Juni 2009

European Union in a Nutshell

European Union in a Nutshell

What you might want to know about Europe but never dared to ask

In short.

Think of the United States, Canada and Mexico deciding, that they want to expand their relationship beyond a trade relation.

They want to 'harmonize' their laws so trading, working and living between the three countries would be almost like moving from one US-State to another.

I know, this sounds frightening to many ears and it actually is.

The 25 Countries that have joined the European Union are souveraign States. They still have their own Constitutions, their own gouvernments and laws.

All countries are sending a part of their GNP to the EU Budget, proportional to their overall GNP. 

Beyond that national level the European Union created to branches of Meta-Government if you will. The European Parliament is elected every 4 years and they have the right to create laws and debate them while the European Commission (two seats for each country) is the 'Administration' of Europe. Both of them have no real power, still. The top level of 'European Government' are the 'Ministers' (Secretary's of State and Finance) who are making the final decisions if something will pass the European Level of legislation. If they approve the law each country has to apply these european laws on a national level. Sound's complicated? Yes, it is. And it can be tidious. There are laws that decide the size and weight of bananas and tomatos. These rules have to be applied in each country and the real trick is, they have to be in accordance to national laws and constitutions.

The elected politicians in the European Parliament have no real power. They debate and nobody in Europe really cares about them or listens to what they say. That is why they are the prey of lobby groups. While K-Street style lobbying is still a small plant in Europe and not very well understood, many interest groups have learned over the years how to play them. The biggest part of the Budget for the European Union still goes to subsidizing agriculture. The farmers all over Europe have learned how to make themselves heard by politicians.

European Elections are not important to the citizens in Europe. Only a small minority feels the need to go and vote. Less than at any national or local election. 

This is why so many obscure groups and individuals see their chance to get a well paid job and secure themselves and their parties a revenue of income. 

All these small groups either build a coalition that is reminiscent of their national parties (Netherlands Social Democrats, with Austrian Social Democrats) and 90 seats are filled with nutheads. Most of them have radical, silly or hideous agendas. They are trying to get a couple 100.000 votes in their country to get them their seat in Brussels. 

Since the influence of the European Parliament none the less is growing continuously on the one hand but the National States are still strong and will not give more power to the EU soon.

Here is a link to the Website of the European Union and the recent Election results: http://www.elections2009-results.eu/en/index_en.html

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