ECONOMY

Waste of EU funds may stay secret

The recent de facto freezing of the European Union’s monetary Stability Pact, which strictly limits national budget deficits, is bad news for the small countries. The political decision serves the immediate and circumstantial interests of France and Germany, while also showing, at a time when the plan for a European Constitution is being debated, that the interests of the big countries take precedence in the Union. Greece managed to cut its deficit as part of its effort to join the eurozone, but since then monetary management has become laxer; the deficit is growing again and the public debt is not falling. The government insists, not very convincingly, that Greece’s high growth rate provides an adequate shield against such problems. But the contribution of the huge EU investment subsidies – which replace the national resources that would have been required – to limiting deficits is often omitted. It would seem more apt for the government, instead of taking pride in the high growth rate, to ensure that European funds are not wasted – as they tend to be. For it is only if they are used to support long-term development that the country can hope to approach the goal of real convergence with the other partners. The bonanza is not inexhaustible. However, the concept of sustainable development is absent from the government’s real plans: It appears that no research is being done into how to ensure positive results, the sole criterion being absorption of funds. The danger is that the Brussels bureaucracy will turn a blind eye to mismanagement and we may never know what we missed.