Why Detroiters Hate Brussels

February 08, 2013, 4:31 PM



BRUSSELS — As European Union leaders began their 14th hour of budget negotiations after a sleepless night, Valdis Dombrovskis, the prime minister of Latvia, took the floor early Friday to address what, for his Baltic nation of around just two million people, is a vital question: Why should a Latvian cow deserve less money than a French, Dutch and even Romanian one?

In a system that requires unanimous approval of budget decisions, what Latvia wants for its dairy farmers — or Estonia for its railways, Hungary for its poorer regions and Spain for its fishermen — is no small matter. It is this cacophony of local concerns that explains why, despite the outsize role in decision-making of Germany, the European Union has such trouble reaching an agreement on something as basic as a budget.

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