The Maastrich Treaty is the main single document holding the European Union together. It creates the backbone of the Union. “Article B outlines the heart of the Maastricht treaty. It also contains the issues that create the most division among the 15 countries participating in the Union.” I will attempt to compare 3 different countries attitude as I see it on “developing closer cooperation on justice and home affairs.” This, I feel is the matter which we, the normal workers, will notice the most after reduction of the VAT.
Firstly I would like to discuss the meaning of developing closer cooperation on justice and home affairs. I believe it means that all countries within the European Union have to synchronize their laws and rights so that one can expect similar things in the whole Union. If it is found that the politicians and the businesses (they) cannot completely synchronize things such as retirement payments, health care, and taxes; it will be necessary to make them compatible. It also means that all government owned businesses will have to be verified in some way to create equality within the Union.
First of all I would like to scrutinize Sweden. To me this country is interesting since it is my place of birth and I am currently situated here. It is interesting also in the sense that Sweden has many taxes, regulations, and laws which are so different from the rest of the Union. This will make the synchronization of the mentioned points difficult and very apparent.
I will begin by describing Sweden’s economy. Sweden’s important raw materials are iron ore and lumber. Of great importance also are the sulfide ores, which often contain important metals. The industry is mostly privately owned, cooperative enterprises are publicly owned, either by the state or by local authorities. Cooperative activity is relatively greater in the retail area. By converging the most important publicly owned industries into one concern, Statsf retag AB (State Enterprise Ltd.), the state has, however, increased its importance and influence in Swedish industry. This may cause problems in the Union since the competitive conditions will be different in Sweden with the state being such a great power within industry.
The taxation in Sweden is a highly organized and bureaucratic process. It is charged partly as a highly progressive national income tax, partly as a local (within the different kommuner) proportional income tax, partly as a tax on net wealth and as inheritance and gift taxes. This strongly differs from other countries in the Union and consequentially hinders high income takers. Most likely the “closer cooperation on justice and home affairs” would change these taxes, lower them, partially get rid of them, and subsequently profit the high income takers.
Sweden is dependent on foreign trade for its economic growth and development to a great extent. About one-half of its industrial production is sold abroad. The once dominant iron and forest products, while still important, have yielded priority to different kinds of manufactured commodities, especially machinery and transportation equipment, which are now the largest component of Sweden’s exports. The “closer cooperation on justice and home affairs” may or may not profit the transportation exporters in Sweden. It would most certainly benefit the export to different states within the Union but it may hinder it outside of the Union, thus balancing the profits and losses.
Sweden has long been regarded as a leader in social welfare, and, in spite of inequities, the rights of the citizen for social assistance are manifold. Compulsory health-insurance reimburses all but small parts of doctors’ fees, hospital treatment, and medicines. The national pension system is paid, beginning at 67 years of age, to all citizens and to foreigners which have resided in Sweden for a certain period of time. A supplementary pension introduced in 1960 and based upon average yearly income, is paid in full to all persons born after 1914. Children’s allowances are paid for each child under 16 years of age, and every mother receives a stipend at each childbirth. Unemployment insurance is based on voluntary premiums, but is subsidized by the state.
These institutions will surely suffer greatly from increased “cooperation on justice and home affairs” since Swedish citizens will not be able to expect free medical care, unemployment insurance, and child allowances anywhere within the Union. This would mean that Sweden would have to compromise its welfare system in able to synchronize with the rest of the Union.