The jobless zone
Eurozone unemployment was 11.1 per cent in May, the highest level since records began in 1995. Meanwhile, manufacturing is contracting: Spain, Italy, Greece and France all reported steep falls.
Unemployment in Greece was a record 23.1 per cent; and 54.9 per cent for the 15-24 age group. Suicide rates are up by 40 per cent. Yet the Greek government wants to cut another 11.5 billion euros in 2013-14, breaking its pledge to renegotiate the bailout.
Spain is similar: 24.3 per cent unemployment and over 50 per cent amongst the young. The number of households with no wage earner has risen by 10 per cent since January, up to 1.7 million. Over 1 in 5 of Spain’s 47 million people are at risk of poverty. The government wants to cut 27 billion euros, yet by mid-2015 Spain faces a funding need of 547.5 billion euros. That’s over half its GDP and more than half its debt.
Helping Germany out
The British government is backing EU treaty changes Germany wants to keep the eurozone alive. It is pushing through a Bill to approve the necessary EU treaty change to give legal status to the EU’s bailout funds, without calling the referendum it promised.
We want out
An Angus Reid poll in August about British membership of the EU found that 46 per cent of respondents would vote to leave; 29 per cent would vote to stay and the rest are undecided. The proportion of Britons who would be willing to adopt the euro as the national currency remains in single digits (6 per cent), and over 80 per cent would vote against any change. A separate poll in July found that 63 per cent of us want either less integration with the EU or complete withdrawal from it.
Iceland’s second thoughts
Iceland could withdraw its application for EU membership early next year after elections in June. The elected president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and runner up Thóra Anórsdóttir both campaigned against it – and won 85 per cent of the votes between them. Anórsdóttir asked, “who would rent a room in a burning hotel? ■