Paying Our Way In The EU
Sir, - While welcoming the general tenor of John Bruton's article on EU enlargement (January 31st), I find his opening remarks on the EU budget adjustment unfortunate. It is offensive to the net payer states, notably to Germany, to compare their efforts at rectifying the budget balance with the xenophobic stridency displayed by Mrs Thatcher and the British Tory Eurosceptics. No member of the Union has more reason than Ireland to be grateful for the generosity of our EU colleagues. Over the past 25 years, we have received almost £30 billion from the EU budget. Meanwhile, our payments have totalled less than £6.5 billion, giving net receipts of £23.5 billion - a benefit/ payment ratio of over 4.5 to 1. This is a measure of the generosity of the richer member states, an act of solidarity aimed at strengthening the Union as a whole. The monies received have helped us to build up our economy and to increase employment, national production and our population to levels that were unimaginable a quarter-of-a-century ago. Whereas in 1973 Irish exports amounted to £4 billion, it is estimated that last year they totalled £37 billion. We have penetrated deeply into EU markets, created a welcoming climate for foreign investors in high-tech industries and services, rationalised our agriculture, revitalised our economic infrastructure and, above all, set in place the institutional apparatus to educate and train our young workforce. This scale of restructuring would not have been possible without the generous support received from our EU partners. We should be particularly grateful to our German colleagues who, despite the immense demands on their own resources following reunification, have continued to carry the major share of EU budget financing. It is only right and proper, therefore, that now that we have joined the richer member states we should start contributing our fair share to the EU budget and so facilitate the further strengthening of the Union through the accession of new member states. - Yours, etc.,
Beaumont Gardens, Blackrock, Co Dublin.