NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Rocky Road To European Union

December 27, 1996

Knowledgeable U.S. observers of Europe's efforts toward monetary and economic union advise that the nations involved form a much looser confederation than presently envisioned.

  • They point out that in an effort to bring down trade barriers, participating nations are getting thousands of new barriers from European Union bureaucrats in Brussels.
  • Far from uniting the nations and people of Europe, the EU seems to be giving them more to argue about, they say.
  • The EU is criticized for institutionalizing government subsidies and labor laws that foster unemployment by raising the cost of hiring workers to an artificially high level.
  • Business people are now free to trade throughout the EU, but only if they can bear the cost of mandated paperwork, new testing and certification requirements and onerous "social" regulations -- all of which create barriers to newer, smaller firms.

Free trade advocates fear that major European countries are moving backward in economic policy terms. Germany and France, they say, are particularly lagging at making reforms favorable to economic growth.

Source: Editorial, "Europe's Year of Reckoning," Wall Street Journal, December 27, 1996.


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