Debate has arisen in Europe over a series of measures that would use funding as an incentive to guide policy decisions in member states, Bloomberg reports. The European Commission believes that such an approach could be an effective tool in helping certain states make better economic decisions, while others have cautioned that the move could lead to protests and antipathy toward the European Union. Such proposals are due to be discussed by several heads of European states later next week.
According to the system under debate, countries could unlock funding from the European Union only by making certain decisions in fields such as labor and pension law, vocational training, and judicial policy. These fields are especially relevant in some of the bloc’s struggling members and in its newest inductees, which have not had time to adapt to the social and economic climate that is pervasive across the rest of Europe.
Proponents of the plan say that it is the most effective way to incentivize countries to speedily adopt badly needed reforms in many areas that could bolster the well-being of their citizens. In addition, it would be a way to offer additional funding to peripheral countries in the European Union, which are often the nations that need the money the most anyways, according to Bloomberg. With funding protocols tightening over the next few years per the EU’s latest series of projected budgets, such measures would be a way to kill two birds with one stone.
Critics of the plan claim it could lead to anti-EU sentiment in many countries, which would feel pressured to act or else face the consequences of losing funds that they cannot afford to forego. For many nations, especially those without access to cash reserves, it would basically act as a series of forced policy decisions. Such measures, while always unpopular, would be especially so in the wake of bailouts, in which imposed austerity measures have ignited protests against the treatment of countries such as Greece and Spain by the European Union.
Germany, the champion of austerity-guided frameworks, has received the brunt of the negative feelings. Many Greeks associate Germany with the economic hardship that the country has been through over the past few years, even though the situation is, at the core of it, a Greek problem to which the Germans only imposed a harsh method of solution. If such situations are not to be repeated throughout Europe, some are arguing that the latest tactics under discussion should be avoided at all costs.
Another factor sure to be on the minds of European heads of state is the rise of radical political parties throughout the continent, possibly a consequence of the mainstream prevalence of pan-European ideologies. Those seeking a more nationalistic feel have been left with little wiggle room, aside from turning to groups with far-from-center ideologies. In a way, it is ironic that nationalism, for years the driving force behind the politics of Europe, has now become a sentiment that is feared rather than revered.
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