The 5 biggest misunderstandings about the EU
They range from the bureaucratic monster to a ban on bent cucumbers: five prejudices about the European Union in a fact check.
Is the EU undemocratic?
No. The European Parliament is elected directly by the citizens. Each citizen of voting age can participate in EU decision-making processes by taking part in the European elections. And the Council of the European Union, the ‘Council of Ministers’, consists of representatives from the freely elected governments of the EU member states.
Does the EU take away powers from the nation states?
No. The EU is a voluntary association of sovereign states with the aim of securing peace and prosperity for all. Together they are in a much better position to represent their trade and security interests in a globalized world. Many of the regulations are not designed to create centralization, but to establish legal equality within the EU: for instance in areas such as trade, consumer protection, services and finance. Similarly, the diversity of its member states adds vitality to the EU.
Does the EU squander taxpayers’ money?
No. The EU spends less than seven per cent of its annual budget on administration and personnel. In terms of statistics, the EU costs each individual citizen 187 euros per year. And money flows back again from Brussels, because the EU provides targeted economic support to weak regions. This benefits people in the various countries.
Is the EU an overinflated bureaucratic complex?
No. About 60,000 officials and employees are currently working in EU institutions for around 500 million citizens in 28 member states. To put it another way, the EU employs less officials than one of the major German cities. The EU only spends about six per cent of its annual budget on personnel.
Has the EU banned bent cucumbers?
No. The frequently ridiculed directive concerning bent cucumbers is still seen as the prime example of EU regulation madness. It was originally introduced by the EU at the request of the business lobby and agricultural ministers, because straight cucumbers are far easier to pack in standardized boxes. And by the way: the EU Commission cancelled the norms for cucumbers and other fruits and vegetables ten years ago.
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