Top 10 Misconceptions About The European Union

Even though many have looked upon it with a frowned eye, the world has to accept the fact that the European Union is the new kid on the block. The idea of forming such a political, economical and social entity emerged from the necessity of reforming the old continent.

While the EU is viewed as a single force, it is still too early to dub it state or confederacy, given the fact that its members continue to rely on their own governments, finances and still enjoy national identities. This dilemma concerning the definition of the EU entity leads many non-European countries to have false perceptions regarding the EU.


1. EU’s economy is sclerotic

The economy of the European Union is far from weak, given the fact that it currently produces an output surpassing that of the US and China combined. Despite the fact that it has been seriously injured by the global economic crisis, Europe still enjoys lower unemployment rates, higher GDP, while the ROIs outperformed those of the United States. Unlike the US, the old continent is powered more by smaller companies and is not as dependant on major corporations.


2. Russia controls the EU’s economy from the shadows

While back in the days, the entire continent was dependant on Russian gas, nowadays it only utilizes approximately 6.5% of the natural resource. For quite a few years now, Europe has started implementing a system based on renewable and greener energy. In fact, the EU members made a commitment to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions by increasing the percentage of renewable energy used by 2020.


3. EU has no international power

The EU has a great advantage to the United States and other countries of the world: a rich experience in diplomatic relations. After all, how else could it keep all the 27 member states happy? This velvet diplomacy proprietary to the EU made it possible to reevaluate the definition of power and the way it should be understood in the 21st century. Make no mistake, just because it does not show off with a strong military force at each dictator’s doorstep, it does not mean that its methods and results are not equally effective.


4. The European Union has no future

The recent acknowledgment of the large financial deficits that some of the EU members are experiencing has paved the way for many speculations, including the fall of the European Union. A special case is that of Greece whose insolvency is believed to weaken the currency and severely affect the other countries’ economies. Without denying Greece’s alarming deficit, it is necessary to mention that it is only 2.2% higher than the one in the US. Besides, the European Commission is already working on several strategies in the eventuality the Greece decides to leave the EU.


5. The EU is formed on Marxist principles

It is very likely that the false premise according to which Europe has extreme socialist orientations resides in the misinterpretation of the concept of “codetermination”. Considering that the idiom refers to the ability of the workers to select their own board of directors, you cannot get more democratic than that. It is very possible that the false idea has originated from the fact that the EU decided to harness the wealth-creating capacity, as promoted by former communist dictators.


6. Europe does not benefit from competitive technological advancements

Granted, Europe’s technology is no match for that of the United States. Nonetheless, let’s not forget that it is home to many of the world’s high tech companies and the largest particle accelerator at CERN. At the same time, the old continent has a higher percentage of the population on the internet, while the connections are faster and cheaper when compared to those in the rest of the world.


7. The European standards of living are very low

It is probable that this myth has its roots in the claim that the US citizens benefit from a higher average income by comparison with some EU members. On the other hand, while in the US it is estimated that approximately 14% of the population lives in poverty, the rates of most European countries are significantly lower. Therefore, taken as a whole, the standards of living in Europe are actually better than in North America.


8. Most Europeans live on welfare

Simply because Europe does not rely on the same “Wall Street capitalism” as the United States does not make it a welfare entity, as some financial analysts like to call it. Instead, it entails the idea that the EU considers that an economy designed to support a comprehensive social system works best in their case. Besides, the various regulations that promote employee health and their work capacity do not imply the same thing as living on welfare.


9. Europe demands higher taxes compared to the US

The emphasis on a comprehensible social system can be best observed when it comes to paying taxes and what you can receive. Let’s take the health insurance industry for instance: in order to enjoy full spectrum health care, an European will pay a rather small sum typically deducted from his salary. For an American to benefit from the same quality of health care he will have to pay extra, usually out of their pockets. In addition, Americans will also have to watch out for deductibles, hidden taxes and other possible charges. Add all of the aforementioned fees and you will realize the taxes in Europe are lower.


10. The permissive immigration law myth

The success of the European Union as well as the absence of its own Civil Rights movement encourages a massive immigration from the Muslim countries. This fact along with the dropping birth rates determine many to false assume that the EU population is slowly dying and it is being replaced by Muslims. While it is true that many residents from North African countries prefer moving to Europe, it is necessary to mention that Muslim’s do not represent more than 3% of the population nowadays. Overall, the percentage does not raise any concern, considering that Muslims represent 12% of the US population.


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