Money, and more money...
In December the markets were still wrecking European economies. Greece was running out of money and their 130 billion euro IMF bailout stalled. Italy, France, Spain and Belgium had to refinance loans totalling 17 billion euros. Next year, Europe’s banks have to refinance 800 billion euros of debt. Ratings agencies decide the future cost of sovereign debt and the credit freeze continues: loans totalling 3 trillion euros are likely to be pulled out of Europe in the next few months.
In 2010 (the latest year for which full figures are available) Britain’s gross contribution to the EU budget rose to £18.5 billion, up 5.7 per cent. Funds coming back from the EU fell by about a quarter to £8.1 billion.
The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidises big business. In 2009 the top 9 recipients were sugar processing companies, which received a total of 928 million euros: none was in Britain. Next year is expected to bring sugar shortages and a sharp price increase. France has 174 Common Agricultural Policy subsidy millionaires, many from banana-producing companies in French overseas territories.
Fishing for trouble
Spanish trawlers will no longer be able to fish in Morocco’s waters after MEPs rejected the extension of a bilateral deal under which the EU paid Morocco 36 million euros a year for fishing licences. Morocco has now urged all EU fishing boats to leave its waters at once.
The British fishing fleet will get a raised quota, but fewer days at sea. Many fishermen doubt it will help them at all.
Come on in
With 9.5 per cent of Europe’s workers unemployed – and more than half of Spain’s young people jobless – the European Commission clearly reckons the figures aren’t high enough. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has unveiled a package of new measures aiming to make it easier for legal migrants to enter the EU. In November she launched a helpful website, the EU Immigration Portal, which provides information for foreign citizens interested in moving to the EU. ■