There's been something of a triumph of spin on the EU's MFF share-out. Oh I don't mean the headlines, which we summarised last week, but the rationale. Spain and Italy get the biggest share for the next seven years because they have been hardest hit by Covid, the spin went. And hardly anyone said "Hold on - Covid hasn't gone. What if Poland goes down next year, or the Netherlands?"
Of course, as Rutte and Kurz know full well, Covid has been the cover for propping up the generous but unaffordable pension commitments in Spain and Italy. I told my old mate in the pub last night not to worry - Germany was paying for the mad Med pensions. He was just paying for Slovenia and Croatia. "What?
Austria pays €14bn into the MFF; Slovenia gets €1.2bn and Croatia €12.1bn. That's €1,580 from the purses of every Austrian and €2,969 into the wallets of every Croatian. "Croatia? Why do they need money? Have you seen the price of property there now? Their hotels cost the same as ours and are more fully booked, their trains are new, new stations, bridges - we paid for all that already".
I have my own suspicions - and they're around Tito's old nuclear power plant at Krško (say Crooshgo), shared between Croatia and Slovenia, due for decommissioning from 2023 but now extended for another twenty years. The EU insists it's safe, but our nuclear leak (and other civil emergencies) warning sirens are still tested every Saturday at 12 noon, and most folk have a 7-day course of Iodine pills in the first aid box. More specifically, Croatia has a contractual obligation to take 50% of the nuclear waste by 2025, hasn't got anywhere to put it and Slovenia has run out of storage. That's my guess, anyhow.
That's the sort of thing that Covid is helping to hide. Don't tell the tourists headed for the Adriatic beaches that there's a nuclear waste dump behind the hotel, don't tell the punters hard at work in Munich that their taxes are being drunk by Luigi and Alphonse sitting in the sun outside their tavernas. Hey ho.