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This economics jargon woffle totally misses the point. North europeans think and feel differently to south europeans across many relevant EU activities. Check out the various analyses of Culture. Look particularly at the distance between the elite and the masses and its close connection to corruption and ‘cronyism’. For example – in southern europe it is quite in order to offer ‘favourite status’ to someone seen as higher than you – particularly in the public sector. The elite expects it and can reward it. These ‘benefits’ may be what got the public worker their job in the first place and the assumption is that they will spread the benefits around. Keep reminding yourselves what the Finns are upset about – their north european world is simple; it has rules and rule breakers. No substantial middle group of ‘chancers’. Northern europe wants crew on this ship – not endless years of passengers. For example – after 25 years in the EU and with over half of all economic activity still not taxed correctly or at all; substantial corruption and rule bending at all levels – what guarantees can Portugal offer northern europe that it will become more ‘north european’ and start to contribute financially to the club ?
Portugal does not have an obligation to Northern Europe, this is the point that you are missing. And it is this self-righteous attitude that is currently the common sentiment from Germany. Portugal has an obligation to pay its debt, which it is doing, at a premium I might add. Portugal also has an obligation to its citizenry, there is work to be done there.
As for areas of corruption, I believe Portugal ranks 30th, which is just behind France and the U.S, not great but not the end of the world, much better than a lot of eastern European countries, I’ll let you do the research.
Can Portugal do better, of course, in fact we can all do better. But Northern Europe needs to get its head out of the sand, and realize that Europe is not yours to command.
And considering that Finland had its own financial meltdown a few years back, helped only by the fact that it was able to devalue its currency, which Portugal is not able to do, was a considerable help to bringing Finland back on track. In fact, many Northern countries have had their own financial crisis, including Germany, they were able to get back on their feet via austerity and devaluation, Portugal can only implement austerity, but it is doing it with dignity, it has its hands tied.
I think the real issue here, though, is that in Northern Europe, although not spoken, there lies a deep rooted xenophobic/racist attitude towards others outside their realm of familiarity. We saw this attitude manifest during the Euro in Poland this summer.
So what can Northern Europe learn from Portugal. First, it can learn to treat others fairly, It can stop hiding its racist attitudes behind a plethora of careful marketing, and it can start to realize that not everyone wants to live like them.
The solution then is quite simple, Portugal needs to cede from the EU where it will always be seen as a fifth wheel, and look to its own people and historical connections for prosperity. In fact, considering that not including Spain, a large portion of Portugal’s trade comes from outside of the EU is telling enough about what the EU means to Portugal.
Portugal can do better without the Euro, this has been proven since Portuguese GDP is at its lowest in almost a full century since it implemented the EURO.
In essence, Eric, you can have your Northern European sensibilities, and your Northern European cohesion, which is legendary, and we Portuguese will take back our peaceful life where free will, low crime rate, personal autonomy, good friends, good wine and a life filled with laughter was once our domain.
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Editor-in-Chief: Vitor Matos
Executive Editor: Blandina Costa