Is the EU: good or bad for Europe & North America?

There’s no doubt the EU is good for poor nations… my question however… is it good for Germany, France, Benelux, Canada, United States, Great Britain? The original “western nations”?

I’d love to hear what the those in the EU itself think. From an outside poiont of view it seems good for some nations and not-so-good for others.

The bureaucracy can drive a sane person up the wall, and the total scope can dwarf any attempt to recognize good or evil.

I can’t decide. I just wish there was more democracy and accountability involved.

Where’s the poll?

Anyway, the EU is not good or bad as much as inevitable. European nations are too small to make much of an impact on their own, now that population growth and economic development in the rest of the world have caught up with them. So a pan-European economic integration, at least, is absolutely required IMO.

The bureaucratic nonsense is probably inevitable, too, given that the European states that form the union are themselves notorious for their byzantine bureaucracies and party/lobby structures. Silly EU rules are usually introduced at the behest of a member state.

The concept of the EU is great, but it’s implementation is not always so fantastic. Personally it is fantastic for me, because I can come and work in Germany and all of my healthcare, pension and social security just carries on seemlessly. I am effectively German, with no more paperwork to fill out that any other German.

I also like the principle of the EU in bringing the continent together through mutual benefit. While the richer countries pump money into the poorer ones, the poorer ones provide cheap labour. Eventually this balances itself out, and like in Ireland they become wealthier nations than the ones who propped them up in the first place.

The equality of nations isn’t about socialism either, it’s about peace through mutual prosperity. Much like the Marshall Plan, the idea of bringing all the nations of Europe to a roughly equal level means that there is less bitterness between countries, and that with the boon from free trade makes conflict much less likely.

The attraction of joining the EU also acts as a major influence on neighbouring nations that wish to join it, and this is a deliberate policy. Countries like Turkey, Morocco and Ukraine are all cleaning up their acts in regards to corruption, regional antagonisms and human rights. When Cyprus joined the EU we could have solved their decades old problem overnight, if the Greeks (who had previously been pushing for re-unification) hadn’t snubbed the now willing Turks.

I personally prefer this method of democratising nations to imposing it upon them by force, although it obviously takes longer.

I agree with everything Tim just said except one thing:

Morocco is angling to join the EU? There are a lot of Moroccans working in Europe but it seems far-fetched to me. I also personally benefit from the EU, not as an EU citizen but as a frequent traveller within Europe it’s very convenient to have one currency for 12 countries and easy crossing of borders. I’m pleased that it’s expanding and hope it keeps doing so, both for my own benefit and for the incentives to improve that it places on potential members. But Turkey’s already going to have a hell of a time getting membership and it’s more western and has the precedent of being in NATO. I guess it’s good if Morocco’s government is cleaning up its act with an eye towards eventual membership; I’m just surprised. Lots of Dutch people who already resent the Moroccan immigrants here would shit a brick at the thought of Morocco joining the EU.

Yep, Morocco definitely wants to join the club. Whether that is a realistic aspiration is another matter, but simply dangling the carrot can be enough to instigate reform. Even if Morocco doesn’t get membership, simply joining a free-trade agreement would have massive benefits for Morocco.

What about the high unemplyment rates we always hear about?

The EU as a whole has very little to do with that. In fact I think the EU has the potential to reduce it by making for a more viable economy.

Unemployment rates vary greatly from country to country. Many of the new EU countries from the old east Europe have very high rates, whereas countries like Ireland, UK and the Netherlands have very low rates. Even Germany, which has a rate of around 10%, would have much lower unemployment rates if old East Germany wasn’t counted. States like Bavaria have very strong economies, and some of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, whereas former East German states all have 20+% rates and stagnant economies.