Like a worn-out record (remember those?) stuck on the same tune, the EU Parliament and Commission are fond of repeating the same statement over and over again: Those hypocritical rebels from the Visegrad Group (V4) are all for solidarity when it comes to receiving EU structural funds, but defy Brussels when it comes to receiving forced migrant quotas.
While it is true that Visegrad refuses to participate in the EU relocation scheme, this is based on national security risks and cultural concerns, not hypocrisy. Visegrad, like many others, sees the results from the failed multiculturalism of France, Belgium, Germany and other parts of Western Europe. It is the countries with the largest contingent of Muslim citizens (France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Britain) that have a disproportionate number of “citizen jihadists” fighting for their cause in Syria. Many, including the recent migrants, are vulnerable to “radicalization”.
However, the structural funds or investments Visegrad receives from the EU started long before the migrant crisis and have nothing whatsoever to do with migration. Does one really believe the EU and Germany are just handing out money for no benefit of their own? Consider:
In 1948, the United States started what was known here as the Marshall Plan to revitalize Europe after World War II. America invested $13 billion ($130 billion in today’s dollars) into Western Europe. Of course, Stalin rejected the plan for the eastern bloc. The United Kingdom received 26% of the funds, while France 18% and West Germany 11%. The United States was not just handing out money to be a “nice guy”; they were fully aware that in order to maximize their economy they needed a strong market in Europe. As Europe lay wounded, they needed help to rebuild the devastated infrastructure and to raise the standard of living. After all, it is much easier to export goods to people who have the money to buy them. The Marshall Plan helped get Europe back on track to the point where the ingenuity of the Europeans, Germans mostly, were able to capitalize on that seed money to become vibrant economies. In the end, Europe benefited, but the American economy prospered even more so.
For a moment, let’s assume the migrant crisis tearing Europe apart never happened. The EU would still be earmarking monies for Central Europe and the V4. Why? Germany and the West need them to have prosperous economies for the benefit of all. A great deal of this money goes to rebuild the infrastructure that was neglected during communism and to raise the purchasing power of the people there. Why? So Germany and others can sell them goods. In other words, although not nearly as dramatic as the Marshall Plan, this EU “subsidy” greatly benefits the donor countries in the long run. One does not hear many complaints from Western firms producing record profits located in the lands of Visegrad.
Today, it is the V4 economies that are thriving. Take a trip to Mlada Boleslav, a booming town in the Czech Republic, and see who is assembling those automobiles to be exported worldwide.
Škoda Auto is a Czech automobile manufacturer and is headquartered in Mladá Boleslav, Czech Republic. In 2000 Škoda became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.
Škoda Auto is the Czech Republic’s biggest exporter and its business has increased strongly in recent years. Last year Škoda Auto enjoyed record sales of 1,127,000 vehicles, a 6.7 percent year-on-year rise on 2015. Its profits climbed by more than a third (33%). The investment in Mlada Boleslav is paying dividends for both Volkswagen and the Czechs who live there. This is how the world works.
So the next time one hears some pundit at the Economist magazine or bureaucrat in the EU Parliament whining about Visegrad accepting investments without the attached strings (migrants), one may want to ask them just who benefits from a strong Central-Eastern Europe? Who benefits from a strong infrastructure in which to export to? Who benefits from an efficient workforce with the purchasing power to buy an overpriced, over-rated edition of the English Economist?
With Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, and France melting down in the self-destructive malaise of socialism, Germany needs the V4 and CEE states more than ever to be strong and healthy.
Brussels should think twice about linking their ineffective and divisive relocation program with EU structural funds. It’s never wise to shoot your own eyes out.