• Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook
  • Facebook

Search This Blog

Visit our new website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who are the best Europeans around?

There has been a lot of Romania-bashing going on lately - from immigration to horsemeat. But in Europe there's always more to a story than meets the eye. Looking at the latest Internal Market Scoreboard, released by the European Commission today, it turns out that Romania - along with some of the other new EU member states - are actually the best Europeans around. At least by this measure.

It reveals that,
When all enforcement indicators are taken into account...Romania, Estonia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Lithuania are the best overall performers.
By the same measure, countries that tend to call for more EU integration and more EU laws, are actually the worst at implementing them. Belgium, Spain and Italy are consistently bad at abiding by their commitments. The UK tends to float around the average, but this time it is slightly worse on three of the indicators.

Below is the "Internal Market Enforcement Table" (click to enlarge), which includes the "enforcement indicators" that the Commission takes into account in its assessment (red = bad, yellow = average and green = good):

In 2012, we looked at who had been the "naughtiest Europeans", using the number of ECJ judgments as a measure, in which Romania also did well. However, this might also have had something to do with the fact that, along with Bulgaria, it is a relative latecomer and cases tend to take a while to get to the ECJ. And, of course, complying with EU laws in the eyes of the Commission is not necessarily the same experience that individuals and businesses enjoy in practice. Nevertheless, today's Scoreboard might challenge some stereotypes.


Rik said...

1. It looks a bit like a Rumenian PR campaign is going on. Rumenians and Bulgarians might be good Europeans obo these criteria they are however completely rubbish as far as compliance and corruption goes. Which is probably a much bigger issue than implementing directives in time. As it simply takes away the platform in the nett contributing countries for everything that is Europe.

2. Another big miss involving Rumenia and Co is the free travel etc. legislation. Everywhere in the world we see massive populationmovements when poor people have the opportunity to move to richer countries. How anybody could think that Rumenia would have its house in order and given its people a lifestyle which is say European average, or brought their people to a Western standard, in the few years they had for that, is a real miracle.

3. RE Schengen. If these countries have to be kept out of Schengen because of Wilders, traditional parties will have a huge problem if somewhat credible populists opposition arises.

Rik said...

On immigration from Rumenia and Co.
There are a lot of uncertainties however this government will have a lot of explaining to do if numbers will be 'Polish'.
Only if they would be able to fully blaim it on Blair there might be an escape. Which will be difficult as the alternative UKIP has a solution that will probably work (getting out of the EU). Immigration is a very sensitive issue and simply several percent of the voters base their decision who to vote for on that.

Anyway for new poor members probably a per capita GDP test has to be included iso simply a rather short term. Even if you have been an ass twice it is not necessary to make that three times.

Nos could be Polish seen some reports from Germany, a real possibility. These reports also show that a lot of the immigrants are likely Roma which would make the problem considerably worse. The average Rumenian is less equiped to function in a UK style society (and more likley to cause social and economic friction) than the average Pole and the average Roma is even nowhere near the already low standards in this respect from the Rumenians.

Basically these flows move like water to the easiest most attractive country. And often the country where already are groups of similar people. So going for the borders of what the EU allowed or even over it, might make a lot of them decide to move somewhere else. One has however to consider that France and Belgium become less attractive as their economy is likely to tank (so not much to choose from left).

The recent German reports also show that often the way of fakish min term employment is used to get to benefits. In this respect the 1 year term looks shaky. Probably better to combine it with the proven Southern European tactics of drowning applications in paperwork. Like requiring some documents from the pretty dysfunctional UK immigration-authorities. Probably good for an extra delay of at least 1/2 year. (combined with routing some otherwise irrelevant stuff over them).
Beter control eg by tax authorities might also do part of the job. These companies likley are not in full compliance with UK tax rules so the alst thing they want is a tax audit. Which would limit the possibilities of some dodgy immigration schemes.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rick,

Thank you for opening such an interesting topic as ROmanian immigration. Your opinions are obviously well documented, but, if you allow me, I just want to shed light on some minor issues.

A similar discussion about immigration was in 2006, just before Romania and Bulgaria joined the Union. Massive waves of pugnacious savages were expect to invade the proud British Islands.

The ROmanian PR campaign didn't work so well back then, therefore British media was waiting on January,1 in the airports, poised to find the barbaric hordes rushing through the gates.

Well, whaddya know? The invaders were only...4. Four, quatre, cuatro, vier, quattro - just to make clear for Rick, in a few languages that an "average" Romanian (not Rumanian) might now.

Thank you very much for your time!

SaltireSyd said...

Knew it wouldn't me ! After all I'm British by birth and Scottish by the grace of God. I am NOT and NEVER will be european !

Jesper said...

Some have claimed that Norway is the country with the best record of implementing EU rules.

Not sure if that is a stereotype but it would be nice if that claim was tested. Would it be possible to check?

jon livesey said...

Right. I can't see Romanian immigration to the UK as a huge problem or something that has much to do with compliance with Single market directives.

According to statistics, in 2009 there were 58,000 Romanian immigrants in the UK in 2009.


Jesper said...

About the transposition deficit:

It would be impossible to calculate the quoted ratios without knowing the number of regulations, rules etc that the nations had to implement. Would it be possible to publish that number?

Open Europe blog team said...

Hi Jesper,

The main report is here:

There are not figures for all the regulations that had to be implemented but, on page 17, you can see how many directives the member states need to implement to meet the ratio targets in future.

Jesper said...


I was hoping to find the number to see get some idea if:

-the EU produces a lot of regulations, some supporters of the EU claim it does -> important to be part of and close to the decision-making process
-the EU produces few regulations, some supporters of the EU claim it does -> the EU does not interfere,

The number from that table didn't help me much in that respect. Maybe some EU-supporter could help me find out which of the two statements above is more accurate?

Looked a bit further on the website & found this:

78 pages of directives, 38 (half) of them relates to the timeperiod after 2003.
On a sidenote: Seems unlikely that many people read those documents, at least one directive on the list I linked to is in French (2009/87/CE). In the Swedish document it was in Swedish so I'm thinking that the English version was intended to be in English.

I suppose I could contact the commission and ask about it but maybe by posting here I don't need to.

Rik said...

@john livesey
Immigration is a huge problem because a lot of people see it as such it is as simple as that. In most Western countries it is seen as a much bigger problem than Europe for instance. It is simply always within the top3 issues people mention.
Whether it is a practical problem hardly matters as does how you or I judge the situation.

Rumenians are simply the next big thing on immigration. They might come they might not we will first know if it happens and as these things donot happen in 1 day first after a few years.

What however what is clear is that:
-it is likely to happen (based on what we have seen earlier).
-as it is clear that Roma are likely to constitute a substantial part of a possible group;
-that Roma usually come with a lot of problems;
-when they are in it is very difficult to get them out again. Furthermore that the UKs immigration authorities although looking to improve simply still look pretty dysfunctional to me. Basically they make problems where they unlikley are so they donot have time to solve the problems that are there (story of European immigrationauthorities).
They are in no way in control of the issue. Not even close. Difficult to manege things as politicians with basically broken tools.

It is also a very relevant political issue. In countries like France, Sweden, Finland, Danemark, France it appears that 10-20% average vote for this one issue parties. Germany has no real populist alternative, probably the main reason there.

With the UK going roughly according the 'standard' lines it is also a political problem in the UK. Imho it simply doesnot look that Cameron can afford to have it wrong on this one. If they would come in masses and with all social problems almost certainly to attached to that (plus the clear EU link) he can kiss his reelection goodbye. As he would simply put UKIP on the map with this. The referendum is the main issue as far as the EU goes for now, but it will not stay that way if a few 100 000s (unwanted by a large part of the population and an even larger part of his voter base)immigrants come under EU regulations.
Abuse of social security always gives great newsitems and even more so if everyone would be daily confronted with it by beggars in the street. As said he simply cannot get this one wrong.

With the UK very naive on this point. They have 'accepted' several schemes. For instance this week's (Albanian gang/Eastern European phony mariages in the UK). Imho you therefor better be prepared.

christina speight said...

This is "box-ticking ' at its worst. Only buro(euro)crats could possibly have devised parameters where the the most crimninal, and crime-exporting countries come out top because they have have lived so long under dictatorship that they know all the Brussels dodges - for them it's just substituting Brussels fir Moscow.

I didn;t think Open Europe would peddle such drivel

jon livesey said...

"Immigration is a huge problem because a lot of people see it as such it is as simple as that."

In the US, where I live, a lot of people see evolution as a "huge problem", and don't want it taught to their children.

I'm afraid that what "a lot of people" worry about often isn't all that much of a problem.

Certainly, 58,000 Romanian immigrants isn't remotely an important problem in a country with a 60m population.

jon livesey said...

I am not sure why this has turned into a discussion about immigration, but there are couple of points worth making.

A problem doesn't automatically become important just because a lot of people are upset about it. That's just a definition of bigotry.

Second, we already have a code of laws, and all we have to do is apply them. A crime is a crime no matter who commits it, native born or immigrant.

No-one is automatically guilty just because of the community they are born into.

Rik said...

In the Western world if you would take your definition to a somewhat more extreme there are no problems, no real ones at least. Everybody has the possibility to have sufficient food, housing, clothes and healthcare. The main political issue for a lot of people is the economy which for several of those people mean being able to buy a 50k second car or only a 40k one or buy it this year iso first in 2014.
Another example: recent horsemeat drama. Not important in many ways, still a huge political problem . Immigration (at least the bottom half of it) is at the end of the day seen as one of the main problems in the UK, so is the economy and so is horsemeat at the moment. And so would be red trafficlights if 50% would find it the most irritating thing in modern Britain.
Every country/culture basically determines what it finds important. In the US guncontrol is an important issue in the UK it isnot.
Just reverse the argument and state that guncontrol isnot really a problem in the US. See how ridiculous that sound. May be you have even more or less the same views as the average Brit on guncontrol, but I donot doubt for a second that you consider it a major politicl issue (as it simply is).
And yes, the way a lot of people look at evolution is simply an important issue in the US. Which is however not the best thing to compare this with. Evolution is clearly the pre-dominant scientific theory while immigration of low potential groups as far there is research on that clearly shows to be a bad or very bad deal.
In another way it is however very similar that people on basis of their view of the world accept things as the ultimate truth (intelligent design in one case, the fact that all people are equal in all aspects). For both however there is no scientific proof whatsoever.

Rik said...


Your 'crime is a crime' is imho a pretty weak argument. First of all social problems are not only criminal, not even mainly.
This furthermore states that you would first have to interfere after something has gone wrong. Certain groups are top of the criminal statistics in most places where they have settled, it is naive to think that in a specific country it will be different. It might be but not very likely. You simply should not 'import' high risk groups if you donot want to bear the consequences of more crime (and pay for the extra trnsfers it will require).
Your view further assumes that police and co can solve everything it is simply nowhere near.

Nobody is automatically guilty it is simply bad business to let them into your country, as a group that is. En masse without individual checks. See it more as if you want to hire a new CEO for a big company you would not look among illiterates. The best candidate might be in that group only in average however the chance is nearly zero. Of course there will always be individuals who look to have the skills and education to contribute to their new home iso being a basketcase like the average member of their respective group is. Few people will have a problem with that.

The reason this comes up is simply because in EU discussions Rumenia mainly plays on 2 issues: Schengen and this. So both immigration related. Furthermore the issue has had a lot of coverage. In the UK but this week especially in Germany as the mayors of main cities see the expected inflow of these groups as a huge problem.
And the Balkans look on a PR tour to sell their views.
And of course of the fact that above inventory simply misses the point that implementing directives in time hardly outweights this issue.

At the end of the day whatever I (or you) find about the issue is completely irrelevant for the fact if it is important or not in political terms. The people in the UK at least a lot of them consider it important and in a way politicians even if they would have liked to ignore it know they cannot get away with it. So find it important as well. So it in the top of the political agenda.
And in a rather complicated way as this is clearly linked with the EU issue. As the hottest thing on immigration Rumenia/Bulgaria is mainly an EU issue.

Another point is that immigration is of the most important issues in Europe and one way or another it is nearly impossible to have a) proper research on and b) a proper discussion about it. Nearly everybody gets emotional on it.
And media and also OE looks to avoid the discussion a bit especially on blogs as it always seems to end in disaster.
Anyway a proper discussion on it is long overdue as the problem is here and here to stay and at the moment we have not got much further than 2 parties shouting at each other. Time Europe grows up and face the fact that as said it is not going away.

A ROmanian said...

@Rik How many times do people have to tell you for it to sink in. It's ROMANIA with a O not with a U. You sure seem very opinionated, but when you're ignorant of the most basic details, how can you expect people to take you seriously?