north-southWe recieved a lot of comments in reaction to our recent post on whether the euro should be split into Northern and Southern eurozones. Lots of you feel very strongly that relations between Northern and Southern Europe have been damaged by the ongoing eurozone crisis, with some of you calling for the divide to be mended (whilst others are calling for an amicable divorce). We had a video question sent to us from Flavia asking how relations between Europeans can be improved, and we put it to various politicians for them to react.

We began by talking to Brian Hayes, an Irish politician with the centre-right Fine Gael party, and Minister of State at the Department of Finance. What did he think?

Next, we put the same question to Tytti Tuppurainen, a Member of the Finnish Parliament with the Social Democratic Party of Finland. How would she react?

Then we spoke to Bogdan Klich, Deputy Chair of the Polish Senate and former Polish Minister of Defence with the centre-right Civic Platform party.

Finally, we spoke to Linas Antanas Linkevičius, the social democratic Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Vote 2014

Voting is closed in our Debating Europe Vote 2014! The results are now in, so come and see what our readers thought!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – crcollins

37 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think? Have relations between Northern and Southern Europe been damaged by the eurozone crisis? If so, can the divide be mended, or is it time for an amicable divorce? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we'll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      I’m from the UK and I don’t want to be ENSLAVED by the South who pick-my-pockets in the name of soliCharity, force me to pay for their roads, airports, railways, bizarre culture shows, biased TV news stations (Euronews, Europarl) etc etc.

      I fully understand why some Southern EU nations are upset by the treatment meted out to same by the masters of the ‘Fuhroland’ ie Germany/France – the extreme enforced austerity measures are far too draconian and are costing lives BUT the EU will never prosper if Southern EU nations arrogantly ‘forget’ that some ‘non-Fuhroland’ countries [mostly in the Northern EU] helped subsidise their economies for decades.

    • avatar

      Yet you stay in the EU…. the facts contradict your ‘defiant’ statement. We own your politicians and you keep voting for them… brilliant.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      I don’t see how giving you enormous handouts paid for from my taxes makes you a slave?
      I would say the fact you are complaining about it makes you more of an ungrateful twat

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Francesco Totino
      Of course, the endemic corruption in the judiciary, police and political elites in Italy is not an issue of concern for anyone, not the Northern EU nations and obviously not Italy!

    • avatar

      But there is obviously some concern in Pakistan or whatever you are coming from, mr. Farkuhar..

  1. avatar
    George Danieldsg

    ?he crooked officials of E.U created a humanitarian crisis in South to market vultures interests and North TEMPORARY survival.E.U. will continue to exist ONLY if honest politicians take charge and crooked be punished by Court of justice.

  2. avatar
    David Fuzzey

    Europe has been damaged by the euro and the eu fanatics who will sacrifice anyone and anything to keep it limping along.

  3. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Relations between North and South will always falter as the North is ‘quite rightly] fearful of the apparent acceptance/denial of corrupt practices by Club Med countries.

    Until the Club Med countries realise that acceptance of corrupt cultural practices undermines democracy, business, stability, law and order the North and South will be at an impasse.

  4. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Seriously I hope that it won’t come to this, breaking up between regions, north and south, east and west again.. But it is up to the hand of our leaders.. They must take a decision of what they want to do.. It is obvious that “the sh*%$ have hit the fan” in Europe and this situation can not continue.. It is time to have more transparency and demand to know how things work and why. Our leaders tell us half the truth and place the blame on EU institutions, in which they have direct say. What do they agree in those summits of the EU Council? What kind of deals do they sign? We also need to know how the lobbies work in Brussels and whose interests do they serve.. If our leaders want to unite European nations, then we also need to start investing in art cultural and also media projects.. A single currency and a banking union can never unite nations, only cultural exchanges and common values can.. Invest in promoting European cinema and television in all countries, create documentaries about everyday life, and the culture in all regions of Europe.. How do you integrate 28 strangers? Well definitely not by a single market.. You got to make an effort to win the hearts and minds of the citizens, after of course you have solved a lot of the problems they are facing, just like unemployment and living standards. Then you will have their appreciation and trust and you can convince them to follow you and believe in the “European project.” Otherwise, please break this darn project off, because it is obvious that it serves the interests of the rich elite circles, in rich elite nations…. Enough!

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Mouzeviris
      I believe that an ‘EU’ could work and could be a good thing BUT not if it offers me worse than what I’ve already got.

      Specifically regarding corruption whether political, judicial, police and cultural.

      Until the ‘EU’ can offer an ‘EU 2.0’ package that is equal to [at worst] what my country [the UK] has to offer me then the EU is a no-no and a no-go.

      BTW, some of your cultural points are interesting although I personally believe that for there to be an EU of ‘friends’ and not ‘strangers’ then the English language would have to be the supra-national language.

      Methinks that most EU countries though, would ‘pass’ on that putatively unifying idea.

    • avatar

      Christos, the EU also serves the rich in the less afluent nations. That is the main reason why they all want to become members. The EU is perceived as a kind of insurance company against all kinds of threats national power establishments are afraid of, threats like revolutions, uprising, bankrupcy, foreign aggression etc.

      The bill for this “peace” is payed by the taxpayers of still prosporous members. The EU in its present form can only exist as long as this disequlibrium in wealth exists, as long as “transfers” are possible. When everything is equalized, wealth is equally distributed, what you seem to wish, then the EU wil be finished, because nothing left for redistribution. Then a new story will beginn for Europe.

  5. avatar
    Ana Georgieva

    I am asking how can west-east relations be approved? If the West stops treating us here on the Balkans as we are idiots, because we are not! You have done enough damage here, stop!

  6. avatar
    Vicente Silva Tavares

    All politicians should read Why Nations Fail from Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. It would help to explain the differences of development between North and South and West and East. Or the EU will be more integrated and works like a federation or must be much looser and every country have more rights to rule by themselves. On the first choice the Euro will be the basis, on the second the Euro must finish.

  7. avatar
    Christos Mouzeviris

    Tarquin English language is already the common language of Europe.. Isn’t that a small victory for Britain?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Christos Mouzeviris
      Hmmm, not quite enough I’m afraid.

      When English [the mongrel and most-European of European languages] is the only official EU language then methinks that would be a significant step in better EU North-South.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      Considering English is the second most common language in the world it is not a victory for Britain but a victory for common sense…..something the EU often goes out of its way to deliberately ignore

  8. avatar
    Pedro Pereira

    As a southern European I’d like that the northearn European countries to notice this:
    We are grateful that you are helping us through this difficult time in our history, but you have to realize that
    you’re not giving us money, just lending. And more, the population does not get any money, it is for our governments.
    We are not laying in our backs while your money enters in our accounts, we are struggling so our governments stop taking
    our money also.
    We are also not lazy, many families have two or three jobs and many of our college students need to have a part-time job,
    so they can pay for the fees. You have to realize that the southern and northern economies were to different at the time
    we join the euro-zone, and the economies of the southern have suffered the most with the open of the markets to other
    countries outside the EU.
    All european countries have gone trough difficult times during the last decades. Please don’t behave like you’re better
    than us and try to understand our problems.
    In the last years it became clear that UE can no longer be a project for elites, but it must be our project, we have
    to fight to make it work, just like we do with our governments. Please, let Europe become an example in all fields for
    the World, as a strong union.

    As a european citizen to the UE institutions:
    We need to start building our European identity. I don’t know how you intend to do that without at least we having a
    common supra-national language. You have built the EU and that’s the most difficult part, please don’t let all that
    work go to waste. The European citizens demand more transparency and democracy and without you giving us that, this
    project is doomed. Please let us work together to a better future for Europe. As a southern Eur

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Pedro Pereira
      Reasonable words BUT…

      Every year MY country (the UK) before and during the economic crisis has paid money [billions upon billions upon billions] to subsidise the Southern EU nations in the name of SoliCharity!

      I don’t believe that Southern EU nation citizens are lazy BUT I do believe that some Southern EU nations have populations that too easily accept corruption and too readily fail to understand the corrosive anti-democratic effects of same.

      It is these generalised cultural traits that frighten me – I do not want to be involved with such populations – corruption and its effects on democracy [never mind the billions we in the UK pay to upgrade the Southern EU nations] are too high a price to pay.

      My country is the oldest democracy in the world – what the EU offers me at present is an inferior replacement.

    • avatar
      Pedro Pereira

      @Tarquin Farquhar
      It is true that we haven’t had much luck with our politics but I strongly believe that these cultural traits, as you call them, are slowly disappering and so is the corruption. These crisis as opened many eyes.
      Never the less you can’t say that you don’t want a more united Europe just because of the reasons you mentioned. Corruption exists in every country. Have you not seem the scandals that have been happening all over your country in these pas few years? That’s more frightening to me than the corruption that’s happening in my country. The way you speak of your country, wich I nevertheless totally respect and admire, leaves me think that you haven’t had many experiences with people from other countries. All countries have good and bad things. I for once don’t like the education in the UK, which from I’ve heard from you fellow countrymen, is too expensive and almost exclusively private.
      All this to say that all European countries have good and bad things but I believe we can be better together. In my opinion you can not think solely about money. The EU is more than that, is a union of countries that as little as 68 years we’re fighting each other. You may think I’m a little naive, but have you thought in what could happen if the EU fell apart now? We’re so close to create such a beautiful thing. And as I’ve said in my previous post you’re giving us money, just lending, and with to many interests. Just think a little about it and don’t let the US and Standard and Poor’s propaganda mould your mind. They’re the real villans and controll the global market as they please. Or do you think there’s democracy when a company from the US as Standard and Poors come to your country and lowers a level on your country’s ranking wich may well be just for the sake of it and throws your country out of the markets, withdrawing all interest of future investors?

    • avatar
      Gavin Crowley

      Your country’s democratic credentials could plausibly date from the extension of the franchise for the 1918 elections, when your country was still my country. That’s not much in advance of other countries.

    • avatar
      Leonam Gonçalves

      I completely agree with you as I believe we’ve come so far with this project that it’d be a reckless action to divide EU. But there are few things that need to be changed/improved immediately in our country: social awareness about corrupt politicians and efficient justice mechanisms. As a portuguese citizen, I must say our justice system is a joke. Many of our politicians are not even investigated as they find ignoble excuses in the concept of “rule-of-Law” state. We should try to investigate and strongly punish corrupt actions before criticizing the Northern countries at all costs. Of course there is corruption everywhere and lobbies seem to be the way european politics works, but we don’t even try to fight it over here. Instead, we tend to blame other nations prior reforming ours.

  9. avatar
    eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Eu estou contra a divisão do Euro a crise do Euro precisa de levar o seu tempo por isso eu acredido e olho para o futuro Como uma Europa reforçada deste processo porque a Europa esta a criar os seus propios mecanismo Eu defendo que as Intituições Europeias devem ter mais poder e terem direito ao seu veto total e com a criação de politicas europistas saudável e de democracias liberais

  10. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @Pedro Pereira
    If the EU collapsed then only nuclear powered France could threaten nuclear powered UK and I am sure that both countries would not want to resort to nuclear war.

    Furthermore, the UK as an island would not necessarily need to get involved in ‘continental matters’ [if the ‘continentals duke it out’] as we unfortunately did in the past (2x in the c20th and 5x in the c19th) at great cost to the UK both in terms of lives and wealth.

    As regards the aforementioned ‘cultural traits’ – you repeatedly mistakenly ‘forget’ that the UK gives for free ie CHARITY billions upon billions upon billions to Southern EU states. Please remember this, otherwise you concur with a certain negative stereotype.

    Furthermore, the corruption of which I fear and you which underplay is a cultural meme based upon the inferior [in the main] continental legal systems [no jury trials for example, a judicial elite hold full sway in the courts] and the inferior [in the main] continental political systems [presidential systems can be bought – look at the USA or France].

    FTR, the UK is not perfect, some of the Scandinavian nations and some of the UK colonies (Australia, Canada and NZ) have better systems [Rolls Royce like if you will] BUT for the UK to trade in its Jaguar+ system for the likes of a 2CV EU system is illogical and must be avoided UNTIL EU 2.0 produces a Range Rover+ system.

  11. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @Gavin Crowley
    Sorry old chap, I have to disagree with your implausible date suggestion – try the 17th century..

    PS: Hmm, I hope you are NOT related to the author of “The Book Of Law”.

  12. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    @Pedro Pereira
    I’m sorry old chap but your blase attitude about the endemic political corruption in Portugal is one of the reasons why EU North-South nations are on a negative footing, said cultural attitudes NEED to change before the EU North-South divide can be resolved.

    Corrupt governments destroy democracy, just look at Africa, South America or the former Soviet Union. Many in the North value democracy [democracy is the most civilizing of cultural pillars] more than they value relationships with Southern EU countries that follow/accept cultural practices that harm democracy.

    Incidentally, I actually do believe as you do that an updated version of the EU [EU 2.0] could prove beneficial to all EU countries BUT not until some Southern EU nations regularly and continually decry corruption whether political, judicial, governmental etc etc

    BTW, your S&Ps comment was at best naive – if an entity cannot pay its debts then its borrowing T&Cs become more expensive, this is true for countries or individuals; to suggest otherwise is bunkum.

  13. avatar

    The positions are not reconcilable. The ‘south’ wants more money and less conditions attached to them. The ‘north’ does not want to do this.

    The Euro will not survive in the long run without some system of transfers. How big do these transfer need to be? I think in the USA the government fiscal transfers between state are somewhere in the 8-12% of state GDP range.
    Considering the differences in ‘EU’ are far greater than between individual US states, these transfers here would necessarily have to be bigger. Even 20-25% may be a low estimate.

    And to make these transfers possible, the ‘North’ would have to ‘voluntarily’ reduce its domestic government spending by similar percentages. Go ahead, please explain to me how the Netherlands can slash 20-25% of its national budget and try to get anyone vote for such political parties?

    It cannot be done! In European countries, this ‘fiscal room’ on top of state spending simply does not exist. In the USA it does, in the EU it does not.

    Essentially, what ‘Club Med’ is asking us to voluntarily reduce our wealth so they can ‘stay in the Euro’ and return to the days of 2001-2008.

    And they’re actually amazed we dare to refuse, and call us ‘un-European’ for refusing. Well if being ‘European’ would entail me surrendering 20% of my income, I’d tell the asker to go stuff himself.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      Well said!

  14. avatar
    Hans Metzke

    The economic north-south divide was looming from the moment the Maastricht Treaty was signed. I agree with Marcel that the only viable solution for the problems in the Eurozone is a transfer union. That’s not only what keeps the United States glued together, but every single nation. In the case of The Netherlands for example, if the province of North Holland refuses to pay the debts of Drenthe, the country will fall apart.

    The question the eurozone faces is as simple as ‘do we want a transfer union or not’? If the answer is yes, the northern countries will pay for it dearly. If the answer is no, we should better start thinking about a decent way to dissolve the single currency.

    At the moment the crisis seems to be fading away, but it’s almost a certainty that it will come back in a matter of time. We better start thinking about what kind of Europe we want in the future before we hit the next thunderstorm.

    • avatar
      George Yiannitsiotis, PhD

      “The question the eurozone faces is as simple as ‘do we want a transfer union or not’? If the answer is yes, the northern countries will pay for it dearly. If the answer is no, we should better start thinking about a decent way to dissolve the single currency.”

      Sooner or later, should the 4th Reich continues its nazionalist path against Europe (extending its domestic order to the rest of the “EU”), the question of money transfer won’t be between North and South but Germany and the rest of Europe. Keep this in mind as well as that eurozone and Europe can exist without Germany. Germany is capable of surviving without Europe and the euro?

  15. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    FYI: I’m British born-and-bred.

    PS: I’m guessing that you come from a porcine farm of some sort?

  16. avatar

    First off all, the EU-citizens do have to gain access to the full picture, not only the part of it that the medias show them. Most Northern citizens think that the people in the South are just lazy and trick the social aid system. Most people in the South think that the Northern people robb them.

    Truth is that the south members have been forced to take over the debts of their banks instead of letting them die.

    So we need a regulation that debts have to be paid by the debitor and nobody else…

  17. avatar

    The problem was that the eurozone obligate southern countries to save the banks who went bankrupt…. because it was necessary to save the euro currency abd to cover all the false credits that UK Irland and US inject in the european banks, and that was reeaaaaaaaly stupid!!!! IF WE DIDN’T HAVE TO PUT ALL OUR MONEY INTO THAT THEIR WOULDN?T BE ANY CRISES OU THE NEED OF TROIKA!!! AND THE NORTH COUNTRY AREN’T GIVING MONEY, WE ARE PAYING EVERYTHING AND WITH CREDIT!!!

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