PositionEuropean Union`s economical aspects

Even before this week's European Union summit gets underway, the blame-game is in full swing. Is the EU in crisis because enlargement has raised costs and stolen jobs? Is the cause British intransigence over its budget rebate, or French obsession with farmers? Is the Barroso Commission too liberal, or too weak to catalyse effective member state action? Is it the persistent failure of euro-zone members to restructure their economies, or the EU's incapacity to communicate with its citizens?

Seeking the culprits within the EU is unlikely to identify the best solutions. Because if the EU is in crisis, it is a result of what is happening outside rather than inside.

Enlargement was only partly a political decision by EU leaders. The fundamental driving force was political change in Eastern Europe, precipitated by the collapse of the USSR. The EU choices were limited to either turning their back on neighbour states, or finding a constructive response to a threatening vacuum.

The shifts in trading and investment patterns that are hitting the EU are the consequence of globalisation, an implacable force that the EU can seek to turn to its advantage, or can choose, fortress-like, to resist - a limited option as long as the EU depends on its exports to pay for its imports of energy and raw materials.

The intensity of the EU's budget squabble is fed largely by the tightening of national spending that member states are obliged to make as they...

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