TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The European Union celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend in Berlin. Stephen Beard is our European correspondent. Stephen how are they celebrating?
STEPHEN BEARD: Well, since it’s in Berlin, there can be no other way of celebrating but with free sausages and beer for all, a huge street party. But the centerpiece of the official celebration will be the signing of this Declaration of Berlin. It’s supposed to be a unifying document, but I have to tell you Mark, it’s proving a bit divisive.
THOMAS: What’s the problem with the document?
BEARD: Well it’s not the past achievements that are the problem — they’re fairly clear: peace, stability and prosperity — it’s the future goals that are causing some of the trouble. There are some real divisions within Europe about whether it should be more free market-oriented or more inclined to providing a social net and providing social policy to cushion people about some of the adversities of the market.
THOMAS: I understand part of the future goals involves closer ties with the U.S.
BEARD: That’s right. Negotiations begin next month for a transatlantic single market with the U.S. and the E.U. harmonizing regulations and technical specifications, making it easier for example, for American manufacturers to sell their goods anywhere in Europe and vice versa. Euro skeptics would add a cautionary note however, and say the long process of harmonization in Europe has led to all sorts of bureaucratic nonsense with bureaucrats in Brussels for example dictating the shape and size of bananas that can go on sale
THOMAS: You’re kidding.
BEARD: So you’ve been warned.
THOMAS: Thanks Stephen.
BEARD: OK Mark
THOMAS: Marketplace European Correspondent Stephen Beard.
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