Thursday’s thundering Financial Times editorial on the food crisis unfortunately arrived too late to change opinions on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont, the European Commission nerve centre. The day before the call for a pause in the push for biofuels was made Jose Manuel Barroso, Commission president, defended the policy.
He said the use of crops for fuel had so far had little effect on higher food prices. It can’t be often that the Commission disagrees with its multilateral brethren, the IMF, World Bank and United Nations. Read more
As a trained economist and former prime minister of Romania, Nicolae Vacaroiu is understandably concerned about his country’s inflation rate, budget deficit and vast current account deficit, all of which are getting Romania into hot water with its new masters at the European Commission. But what really bugs him is Romania’s inability to make effective use of all the economic aid that is on tap from the European Union.
On the 27th floor of a Brussels hotel the other night, Vacaroiu told me that Romania had made such “poor progress” in absorbing EU funds last year that it had ended up a net contributor to the EU budget. “Maybe, unfortunately, the same will be true in 2008,” he said. Read more