Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why, especially in times of austerity, a pound pooled is more often than not a pound well spent

As much as I may have disagreed with European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, I couldn't help but agree with one particular point he made, which most observers may have missed.

His point was that by 27 Member States pooling money together for joint projects and initiatives, money is saved because a pound pooled goes a lot further than a pound spent nationally.

At a time when budgets are being cut back all over Europe I think this is a point worth repeating. Take research for instance. The EU's FP7 research programme funds research on areas such as cancer, alternatives to animal testing and clean energy. If the same research were to be simultaneously carried out in several individual Member States, that really would be an indefensible duplication and waste of money, particularly in light of the current economic climate.

We can also apply this train of thought to rules on almost any aspect of the internal market, one good example is food labelling, in which I have been closely involved in recent years. One set of rules, rather than 27 different sets, has an overwhelming logic to it, not just in terms of efficient decision-making but also in terms of coherence and simplicity for a company which wants to market its products in more than one Member State.

It might be conceded that decision-making in the European Union can be, to a certain extent, cumbersome and bureaucratic given the need for interpreters, translators, a large administration, and the time and effort required to achieve consensus. I have first-hand experience of this in the European Parliament, but the sheer economies of scale benefits and other benefits gained by cooperating and working together vastly outweigh such inherent disadvantages.

1 comment:

  1. To talk of '27 Member States pooling money together' is going a bit far, in my view. Two nations pool the money, Germany and the UK, the other 25 states receive it.