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Budget Headaches and Debt Relief

At the next EU summit and meeting of G8 industrialized countries, there'll be much discussion about EU spending and efforts to provide debt relief to African nations. DW-WORLD readers are already voicing their views.

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EU farm subsidies should be included in negotiations, some say

Europe, having just expanded with the arrival of new member countries and more expected, has been changed forever. No longer can budget policies set up over 20 years ago for a much smaller European Union be defended as being fair and suitable for the future Europe. The new member countries and their populations are so large that it is obvious new financial policies need to be established. The EU must put aside the claims of older members who are clinging to outdated budget arrangements which favor them alone. All the countries must now look towards forming a budget for a new 'unified' Europe! -- Alan Devine

Why should Britain, Germany, France or any other country in Europe for that matter, subsidize this ridiculous "club", the European Union? What is its purpose, except to waste funds on endless projects to prop up unviable industries and dated working practices? I, for one, hope that an agreement over the budget is not reached this week. This, together with recent results in France and the Netherlands, may finally make those who hold undemocratic positions within the EU, realize that this "elephant" that the EU has become is not what many want. I do hope this is the beginning of the end of what is the current EU, and that it returns, with major changes, to what it originally was -- a free trade association whereby unfair taxes are not levied on each other. Alternatively, EFTA still exists, and the EU nations can join that. -- Tim Gilbert

Under no circumstances should the UK bow to pressure to give up the budget rebate unless it goes hand in hand with wholesale reform of (the EU's Common Agricultural Policy) CAP. It is disingenuous of Chirac to deflect attention from his own wounding defeat over the constitution by focusing attention on the UK rebate. Chirac very well knows that the French farmers receive iniquitously high payments from CAP. In the EU 15 prior to enlargement there were 610 farms mainly in France receiving 750,000 euros from direct payments while over half of EU farms were in the smallest category and received only 405 euros. OECD statistics in 2003 showed that 25% of farmers received 70% of the support. By protecting Europe's high-cost farmers, particularly the French, and preventing developing countries from exploiting their comparative advantage, CAP distorts global production and acts as a disincentive to agricultural development in poor countries. Reform of CAP should be a top priority for the EU. -- Betsey MacKay

Debt relief

Debt cancellation is perhaps the best news the poor of Africa have heard this century. It is unfortunate my country, Kenya, did not benefit from the debt relief.

However, all is not lost as we have a local Youth group known as Positive Youth that has embarked on a project of producing music, all the proceeds of which should go towards starting a fund for debt and poverty reduction for Africa. -- Oscar Nyapela, Kenya

This is an effort that should have been taken long ago. However, debt relief alone cannot relieve the impoverished state of these countries. They need ongoing help to cluster their talents for sustaining themselves and then advance to sources of employment for their communities and the education of their children. It does seem to be an interesting paradox that the "rugged individualism" as advocated by so many will not achieve this goal. -- Judy Dolan

I believe musicians can do more to help the relief in Africa. Famous musicians say whatever they want with almost no regard for anything at all. I think people respect that they already have it all and are looking for something more in life -- something greater than being a rock star. If the "cool" rock bands out there started singing about how much America needs to help somebody else, like Africa, that would nest the idea of African relief in kids' minds at a young age. -- Keith Robertson

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