Poverty and Corruption in the EU

The problem lies in the inability of the EU’s Nomenklatura to refuse applicant countries with high levels of corruption to join the EU long before the reforms needed are effective, if they ever are. As a result the EU has member states, especially among ex-Warsaw Pact countries, with endemic corruption. But the malaise extends to founder members as well. Italy, one of the most populous member states and a founder member of the EU, is “a country in receivership” and still has its Mafia. Spain is also struggling. These two large and established EU member states struggle with overwhelming national debt problems. If the Eurozone is heading for a new sub-prime mortgage crisis that will be the mother of all recessions this will be brought about by these two large and struggling economies, neither by Greece, nor by ex-Warsaw Pact countries, such as Romania, which may be poor but also corrupt – as this article in the Swedish Local illustrates.

There is an interesting 16 January 2015 post in Tartaruga Democrática once more returning to the subject of ordoliberalism in Sweden compared to non-ordoliberal counties, and arguing that when Sweden makes public savings they are real cuts, in contrast to Portugal and Spain. It is a brief post but it does raise the question of how countries applying for membership in the EU are vetted and eventually cleared for membership. It seems to me that the desire to expand the European Empire as Barosso arrogantly called it makes all the checks and balances to ensure that countries are complying with shared social and moral standards only empty rhetoric. The main purpose of the PHARE Programme is to ensure that the victim countries are made to break up their public sectors in such a way as to make ownership of the various component parts open to the market, so other EU countries can compete between themselves for them. It is not about reforming societies in terms of corruption and other underlying behavioural factors, which is anyway impossible.

Here in Sweden we know how eternal cuts in funding become so established that we are used to it. It has been like this since the 1980s when neoliberalism came to dominate Europe, courtesy of the USA and its brother in alms, Britain. The railways are neglected, medical care is becoming increasingly marginalised, education is in complete disarray. Public expenditure cuts are a part of everyday life here.

But most Swedes realise that budget cuts are better than debt-slavery.

It is also made possible by Sweden’s housing system in which co-operative owner-tenant housing, bostadsrätt, comprises an important third tenure form between renting and what I now call “ower occupation”. When we retired we moved from a bostadsrätt 30 minutes train ride from Uppsala to a small house, outside Ockelbo that we bought with cash. It is in the forest, just big enough for the two of us. If the choice is between owning and renting the price of freehold houses shoots up into the stratosphere. We are lucky to have avoided that thanks to my wife’s good judgement, and to be living in a country where the housing makes it possible.

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