Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:53AM
French President Francois Hollande is seen leaving at the end of a European Union Summit held at the EU Council building in Brussels, December 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
French President Francois Hollande is seen leaving at the end of a European Union Summit held at the EU Council building in Brussels, December 15, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
  • Embed

The European Union (EU) consists of 28 member countries, and perhaps never before has the EU and its foundation been on shakier grounds. From the financial crisis onwards to Greece and now Brexit, the EU seems to be going from one crisis to another. The most recent: high budget deficits.

The EU issued a warning for eight nations over their excessive budget deficits: that is almost 25% of all EU countries. If these countries fail to comply with the EU’s budget rule in 2017, they risk facing fines and restrictions on access to European funds, and that is just the top of the iceberg when it comes to the EU’s problems.

It was the year 2008 when the financial crisis showed its ugly face. The eurozone crisis then gripped Europe and the EU, and then, as the world was told, the crisis peaked in 2012. But Europe has not been able to recover.

This is a snapshot of the European economic environment in 2015. UBS lowered its return on equity. Barclays enacted cost-cutting targets. Standard Chartered has announced 15,000 job cuts. Deutche Bank said it would axe 11,000 jobs and leave 10 countries. Italy’s UniCredit was to cut up to 12,000 jobs. Credit Suisse Group said it would trim as many as 5,600 positions.

When all was said, these sweeping job cuts brought the total planned reductions to more than 30,000, or almost one in seven positions.

So, here we are: at the end of 2016. Have things changed for the better?