The newest members to join the European Union — the ones that have overcome communism and attempted to rebuild themselves — might be facing even further hardship if Prime Minister Tony Blair’s proposed budget cut becomes reality.
As it stands at the moment, Blair is proposing a near £120-billion slash in the next budget, which is meant to end the impasse on current spending.
This past June, Blair shot down a budget proposal for a budget which would total ¬583.6 billion. Blair is expected to slash this immensely.
At the moment, the newest members to the European Union have proven to be allies for a Prime Minister who is said to be losing the faith of his voters back home. But, this proposition could send the countries into a downward spiral, ending ties between Britain and its newest friends.
The European Union has rotating presidencies, and Britain holds that title until the end of year, just after a new budget will be finalized in the middle of next month.
In the hopes of garnering support for his budget cuts, Blair will be touring to eastern Bloc countries this week to explain his proposal.
“We are going to go for a deal. We recognize all the problems that involves. But we also recognize that the [new member] accession countries particularly want the deal because they want the certainty of knowing what their budget is going to be,” a spokesman on behalf of Blair said.
While Blair’s proposal might be of benefit for the wealthier EU nations, there are a number of countries that would be hurt by these cuts. For example, Blair intends to slash the aid provided to newer EU members in the form of “structural funds,” and “rural development” funding is also expected to get the ax.
“People may not like [British food], but they swallow it. People may not like this deal, but maybe they will swallow it,” Jaroslaw Pietras, the Polish minister in charge of budget talks, said.
I don’t really understand Blair’s logic in these cuts. How can slashing aid to the countries who need it most help boost a continent’s economy? How can breaking ties with your newest allies strengthen an already volatile union?
With Britain getting a special rebate on its contribution to the EU budget, it would make sense from a political point of view for the UK to keep close ties with the newest EU members, while spending the few extra bucks (as the other rich EU members take on the brunt of the expenses) on structural reforms for these underdeveloped nations. Of course, politics and economics don’t always make sense, so we’ll just have to watch to see how this scenario plays out.