Filipa Figueira, Teaching Fellow at UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, unpacks the politics and the emotional potential of the EU budget, and why Brexit might be good news in this regard.
Every seven years, the EU braces itself for a strange recurring phenomenon: Its comparatively small budget (only 1% of GNI; insignificant when compared to national governments’ budgets) becomes the focus of rapt attention from the media, politicians and unnerved citizens across the Union. Somehow the fact that this is not in fact a large amount of money in view of the size of the institutions it represents becomes lost in the picture, as politicians from different countries fight to get as much out of the limited pot as possible.
Mechthild Herzog, University of Luxembourg, draws comparisons between the socioeconomic situation the EU faced in the 1970s with that of today. Both periods followed extreme economic crises and were defined by rapid technological transformation. Looking to the past as a guide, Herzog argues that there is a potential for today’s socioeconomic crisis to actually lead to the strengthening of social and employment rights for EU citizens.
The European Union, which the UK voted to leave on 23 June 2016, is in some respects quite similar to the one the UK joined 43 years earlier: then and now, the member states face(d) a number of comparable issues in the area of social policy and employment. Following the famous quote dedicated to Mark Twain that history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes, this post dares to draw parallels, and to show what the EU and its institutions might learn from a time not so very long ago.