Monday, May 24, 2004

An autonomous region of France?

Source: Deutsche Welle

Mario Monti is a busy man these days. Fresh from presiding over the shambles of EDF and Alstrom, and banning the Scottish Crofters Commission from supplying bulls for small farmers, today he was in Brandenburg, East Germany, to discuss future financial support for the region.

And, in contrast to the treatment of EDF and Alstom, it seems as if the money is about to dry up. With the accession of the eight former communist countries into the EU and after the expenditure of some 1.25 trillion euros, Eastern Germany is set to lose some of its reconstruction aid

Unsurprisingly, Brandenburg's premier Matthias Platzeck is less than impressed, complaining of difficulty of explaining the cutbacks to his people. Eastern Germany, he said, had been completely deindustrialized after the collapse of the GDR, and rebuilding the region was far from over.

But the main problem is uncertainty. No one has any idea how deep the cuts will be and all the commission will say is that it is conducting "a comprehensive review" of regional policy. But the essential problem remains that, with the latest round of enlargement, Eastern Germany is no longer among the poorest regions in the EU, even though unemployment stands at over 20 percent

Given the current behaviour of the commission though, it would seem the answer is obvious. Eastern Germany should declare itself an autonomous region of France, and watch the money roll in.

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