The Problem

For over 30 years, the powerful leaders of the European Union in Brussels have systematically enacted catastrophic fiscal and social policies. In the name of economic equality, redistribution, environmentalism, and equitability, the EU has imposed its centralized government model on member countries both large and small. Under this paternalistic rationale, the results have been sadly predictable.

The citizens of Europe are now paying a staggering cost for the EU’s failed policies:

  • Unemployment is twice as high in Europe as in the United States
  • Seven of the ten countries with the world’s highest tax rate are in the EU
  • Despite the world’s highest taxes, national debt is rising faster than growth in Europe
  • Extreme environmentalists have declared war on farmers and employers
  • European countries now rely on their enemies to supply their energy
  • Individual rights are being eroded
  • Political dissent and free speech are repressed
  • Communism and totalitarianism are rising once again
  • Sovereign borders are under attack
  • Individual achievement and entrepreneurism are penalized in favor of government-prescribed equality
  • The EU-US Forum was founded with the understanding that what happens to Europe is not occurring in a bubble

Unfortunately, the destructive policies coming from the EU are being replicated and spilling into the political agendas of liberals and socialists across the globe.

Failed ideas from European leaders are already permeating American liberal philosophy and having a negative impact here at home. One must look no further than the state of California where liberal lawmakers have modeled their disastrous digital and environmental policies after their political mentors in Europe. Californians are now fleeing the state and job-creating businesses are leaving in droves.

As the world gets smaller and ideas can propagate worldwide in an instant, it is not enough to only fight battles here at home. Those who wish to protect the principles of freedom, individual rights, limited government, and prosperity here in America can no longer ignore the European social laboratories where these policies and philosophies are taking shape and being implemented.

This is why the EU-US Forum is dedicated to tackling the problem at its source. Knowing that an ocean is no bulwark against Europe’s catastrophic ideas, we must work to buttress the US against those who would repeat the EU’s mistakes here at home.

Time for Action is Running Out

The United States and the nations of Europe stand at a critical juncture in history. During the next decade, western powers must decide whether to follow the destructive policy ideas being promulgated by the European Union or to change course. If we continue down the current road, the countries of Europe – and eventually the United States – will undoubtedly cede their position of world leadership to communist and totalitarian countries like China and Russia.

In short, national sovereignty, individual freedom, and economic prosperity are all under attack, and the European Union is leading the charge. If countries continue to follow the path of socialism and failed policy that is being paved by the leaders in Europe, individual freedom for future generations is at risk.

The EU-US Forum seeks to educate the public on both sides of the Atlantic about the disastrous policies being advocated by the political elite in Brussels and the bleak future that the world faces if we follow suit. In order to highlight the absurdity and danger of European-style socialism, the EU-US Forum will focus closely on five key political and policy issues:

  1. Governmental Spending and Taxation
  2. Environmental Extremism and Overregulation
  3. Political and Digital Censorship
  4. Border and Immigration Policy
  5. The Erosion of Meritocracy

These cornerstone political issues will help the EU-US Forum provide abundant and clear examples of how European policies and ideas are destroying jobs, punishing businesses, infringing on freedom, and threatening the security of free countries.

The EU-US Forum believes the United States and Europe will soon be forced to make a choice: either recommit to the ideals of freedom, fiscal responsibility, sovereignty, individual rights, and free-market economics or succumb to a future of fear and economic misery. We will consistently advocate for those policy ideals and principles that made Western nations the freest, most prosperous, and most secure in the history of the world.

It is time for American conservatives to reject the failed political ideology and devastating policies of the European Union and begin fighting back.


Governmental Taxation and Spending

The European Union has systematically subjected its citizens to the most onerous and costly tax regime in the entire world. Those who live and work in the EU consistently face the highest individual tax rates in the world in order to fund excessive spending and fuel liberal social programs. European countries now have some of the highest tax rates in the entire world.

While conservatives in other Western countries like the United States are working to let its citizens keep more of their hard-earned income, the EU is continuing to punish hard work and success. Seven of the top ten highest income tax countries in the world are in Europe.

Some of the EU’s largest countries have tax rates far beyond their neighbors in Europe and competitors around the world. In France, the top tax rate is 55.4%. In Spain, the rate is 54%. This destructive trend continues throughout the continent. The most populous countries across the EU – Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden have individual tax rates above 45%.

This year, workers in the EU will face an average top individual tax rate (42.8%) that is double the rate paid by corporations (21.3%). Instead of lowering individual rates to bring them into accord with the rates paid by businesses, the misguided leaders of the EU have instead instituted a new minimum tax on private companies. This out of touch proposal will only make matters worse.

The negative ramifications of Europe’s high tax rates are countless. Many in Europe are giving over half of their paychecks to the government. Those high taxes reduce the value of a job and contribute to Europe’s 6.4% unemployment rate while punishing the most successful workers. With fewer people working, the cost of Europe’s extravagant social services must be borne by average workers, further perpetuating the cycle of increasing taxes and spending.

The fact is that Europe’s high taxes are driven by government spending, especially on generous social benefits for able-bodied adults. According to one study, most workers in Europe contribute over 33% of their earnings to pay for government social welfare programs that simply redistribute wealth. That should not be surprising since spending on social welfare benefits in the EU amounted to a whopping 28.7% of GDP in 2021.

Perhaps the most frustrating reality of European fiscal policy is that the world’s highest tax rates are still not enough to pay for the EU’s excessive spending, and debt in the EU continues to rise. In 2023, total debt in the EU reached €13.8 trillion, an increase of €575 billion or 4.4% in just one calendar year. As debt rises in Europe, the pressure to raise revenue will increase, and this vicious cycle will continue until there are no more workers to extort.

The Facts about Spending and Taxes in Europe

  • Nine EU member nations have a top statutory marginal personal income tax rate of 50% or higher: Denmark (55.9%), France (55.4%), Austria (55.0%), Spain (54.0%), Belgium (53.5%), Portugal (53.0%), Sweden (52.3%), Finland (51.4%), and Slovenia (50.0%)
EU Country Tax Rate
Denmark 55.9%
France 55.4%
Austria 55%
Spain 54%
Belgium 53.5%
Portugal 53%
Sweden 52.3%
Finland 51.4%
Slovenia 50%
  • The average top tax rate in the EU is 16% higher than the current top individual tax rate in the United States (37% rate). The top rates in Denmark and France are 50% higher
  • Despite the highest tax rates in the world, debt in Europe continues to climb. In 2023, total debt in the EU reached €13.8 trillion, an increase of 4.4% in just one calendar year
  • The EU’s debt increased more than 45% between 2021 and 2022, from €236.7 billion to €344.3 billion due in large part to spending intended to address the pandemic’s economic consequences. It is unclear how the debt will be repaid under current circumstances
  • In 2021, spending on social welfare benefits amounted to a whopping 28.7% of EU GDP
  • Euro area unemployment currently stands at 6.4%, with the highest rates being Spain (11.6%), Greece (10.4%), Sweden (8.1%), Lithuania (7.7%), and Finland (7.6%)
  • Government debt in the EU averages 89.9% of GDP, with six countries exceeding the 100% of GDP threshold: Greece (165.5%), Italy (140.6%), France (111.9%), Spain (109.8%), Belgium (108.0%), and Portugal (107.5%)
  • The European Court of Auditors found over €196 billion in wasted EU spending in 2022 and concluded that a large amount of money was not used compliantly and that “the level of error was material and pervasive”
  • The EU has enacted the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Pillar 2 global minimum tax for multinational corporations, a global tax scheme that would effectively be a transfer of wealth from the US to the rest of the world. Under Pillar 2, the US stands to lose over $120 billion in revenue
Environmental Extremism and Overregulation

Once at the forefront of technology, commerce, and innovation, Europe is falling behind third-world countries. Decline and deindustrialization in Europe are not happening by accident. The EU’s leaders are destroying businesses and jobs with intrusive regulations that come with huge compliance costs. Environmental extremism and a lack of protections for private rights have helped usher in a tidal wave of unnecessary and burdensome regulations across Europe.

The EU is in a unilateral race to the regulatory bottom. Led by some of the most extreme environmentalist factions in the world, Brussels now regulates every part of life for people living in member countries. No aspect of daily commerce escapes the EU’s watchful eye. Bank capitalization, how eggs must be packed, which fields a farmer seeds each day, energy consumption of laptops, and the amount of organic food you eat are all regulated in Europe with the same administrative zeal.

Simply put, Europe today has the most absurd and burdensome regulations on earth. These regulations are having a disastrous impact on workers, employers, and consumers, including:

  • Putting farms and the agricultural sectors out of business
  • Exacerbating inflation by increasing the cost of goods
  • Undermining energy security and making EU countries dependent on their enemies
  • Incentivizing domestic employers and large companies to flee to China

The European Green Deal – which unrealistically aims to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 and recommends a 90% net greenhouse reduction and ban gas cars by 2040 – is at the heart of European farm protests. This Green Deal goes beyond mere emissions and even dictates that 25% of all agricultural products must be “organic” according to the EU Regulators by 2030. Farmers in Europe can simply not afford to meet these impossible goals and are fighting back.

Regulations also impact the cost of goods and lower the quality of life for the working families of Europe. For instance, after systematically declaring war on traditional energy, the top ten highest gas prices around the world are all in Europe. The EU has consistently outpaced the US in inflation and underperformed the US in GDP growth.

Excessive energy regulations are also a threat to European security. While countries like China, India, and Russia lap Europe in energy dominance, the powers that be in Brussels are punishing their own countries with extreme regulations and environmental red tape. The EU has introduced a world-first carbon border tax. After going live, only a fraction of EU companies have met the first reporting deadline, including just 10% of expected companies in Germany reporting. 

As a result of this assault on private business, companies are scaling back investment across the EU and moving to low-regulation countries like China. Overregulation is now causing Europe to lose its edge in the production of critical future technologies. In 1990, for instance, Europe made 44% of the world’s semiconductors. It now makes 9%. As companies flee, untenable energy costs driven by environmental regulations remain a major factor.

Instead of finding ways to reduce regulations and lower prices, the leaders of the EU are trying to spread their heavy-handed government to more countries around the world. In February 2024, Brussels promised $6.5 billion in incentives for six Balkan countries to adopt identical business and individual regulations to Europe.

Instead of importing more of these self-destructive, socialist policies to the United States, American policymakers should rally around the farmers of Europe and protest unfettered government regulations. If the world turned its attention to the human impact of the enviro-regulatory state in Europe right now, it could make a difference.  

Europe's Costly and Ridiculous Regulations

  • Farmers across the EU have been protesting in large part because of bureaucracy and environmental requirements, which are so onerous and overbearing that farmers are reportedly even supervised for compliance with satellite imagery and drones
  • Regulations are pushing the tech industry overseas. In 1990, Europe made 44% of the world’s semiconductors. It now makes 9%
  • Regulations are also contributing to higher costs. Post-COVID inflation in the Euro area peaked at 10.6%, compared to 8.9% in the US
  • The EU has outpaced the US in inflation and underperformed the US in GDP growth as a result of costly and excess regulations
  • In the face of continuing protests from farmers, the EU has been forced to reassess its climate policies ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections and cut red tape
  • Environmental red tape in the EU is so onerous that ExxonMobil has threatened to withhold $20 billion that it had earmarked for climate-related and decarbonization projects between 2022 and 2027 and prioritize other regions. ExxonMobil has also raised a warning about experiencing deindustrialization in Europe.
  • The EU has introduced a world-first carbon border tax, which imposes red tape and costs not only on EU companies but also on foreign exporters who will have to track their own emissions. After going live, only a fraction of EU companies have met the first reporting deadline, including just 10% of expected companies in Germany reporting
Political and Digital Censorship

The rise of socialist policies in Europe has brought with it an escalation in political censorship. The European Union now proudly uses the power of laws to cancel differing political views.

The EU leadership has always worked to silence conservative voices, even those duly elected to serve in the European Parliament. As POLITICO described, “The European Parliament always has blocked members of the far-right from holding any influential positions in the Parliament, such as chairing committees, involvement in negotiations or sitting in the bureau of top MEPs which deals with the institution’s internal affairs and its €2 billion annual budget.”

Today, that kind of indirect censorship is being weaponized through overt government action, including laws against speech and crackdowns on private companies that platform speech with new online regulations. No matter what the policy looks like, the goal is to chill free speech and silence any opposition to the liberals controlling the European Union.

In a effort to control and moderate speech online, Europe enacted the Digital Services Act (DSA) – a sweeping regulatory package that imposes onerous content moderation requirements on social media and tech companies to codify digital censorship not only in the EU but around the world as it forces American tech companies with global reach to comply. Individual companies are now under attack. X – formerly known as Twitter – is currently facing an investigation under the DSA and could face penalties of up to 6% of its global revenue or a ban from the EU.

The DSA will also target individuals who violate the wishes of the European Union online. The bill allows users and “trusted flaggers” to report cases of speech that violate the DSA. According to early tracking, 64% of flagged content is removed by online monitors. The legislation essentially creates a new system for thought police to scour and remove speech that questions their opinions.

European leaders are even finding new ways to punish those who platform free speech. When laws limit the EU’s ability to directly censor internet platforms, they use other tools like antitrust laws to go after anyone who gives voice to the opposition. Once again, X is squarely in the sights of regulators in Europe who will use any means necessary to control speech and stifle opposition.

The European Commission is also seeking broad new authority to criminalize “hate speech” and ban unpopular views, setting a goal of adoption by the end of the current legislative term. The proposal further threatens to undermine freedom of speech by granting the European Commission heavy-handed censorship powers. Vague definitions of “hate speech” from Brussels should be viewed as a major threat to anyone who values free speech and fears political censorship.

The attack on free speech is now expanding to free enterprise as European governments arbitrarily ban private sector businesses from even existing. Countries across the EU are actually instituting laws to criminalize the operations of companies.

In Italy, the government has unilaterally prohibited its citizens from using ChatGPT. The entire EU banned certain types of advertising, but only when being used by the company Meta. In 2023, American food products were made illegal to buy or sell in Europe. And now, when companies try to plead their case they are barred from even talking to the EU parliament. Ultimately, the people harmed the most by these policies are the working families of Europe who cannot access products available around the world and have fewer jobs and economic activity as a result of this war on private business.

Technology and communications are the cutting-edge drivers of the world’s future economy. Europe is falling behind America and the rest of the world. One key reason is the EU’s insistence on using its centralized power to regulate and censor political opposition, especially when it comes to technology, communication, and social media. The practices of Europe when it comes to speech and technology better represent the tactics of the Chinese Communist Party than a free Western democracy.

The disturbing trend toward government control has been festering for years. Europe’s leaders have already targeted the American system of free speech. In a 2012 decision by the European Court of Human Rights, a concurring opinion explicitly rejected America’s reverence for protecting freedom of speech in favor of utility, arguing that “today’s Europe cannot afford the luxury of such a vision of the paramount value of free speech.” We now are seeing states like California and others try to emulate the EU censorship model. Americans cannot allow the sacred Constitutional right to free speech to be sacrificed to Europe’s socialist agenda.

What they are Saying about European Digital Censorship

“We can expect a highly politicized co-regulatory model of enforcement with an unclear role of government agencies, which could create real problems” – Electronic Frontier Foundation

 “The Digital Services Act will essentially oblige Big Tech to act as a privatized censor on behalf of governments — censors who will enjoy wide discretion under vague and subjective standards.” - Jacob Mchangama, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE)

“Our analysis is still that the system of flagging is open to abuse, the scope of the proposals would capture and silence too many voices seeking to share their lawful opinions and the requirements placed on large digital platforms to examine and remove content places too great a responsibility in the hands of unaccountable organisations and opaque algorithms.” Ruth Anderson, CEO, Index on Censorship.

Border and Immigration Policy

Across Europe, a growing wave of illegal immigration and a lack of solutions from leaders has boiled over into public outrage and frustration, straining resources dedicated to generous social welfare benefits and undermining the right of free movement imbued within EU residents from the founding of the union.

The intractability of politicians who refuse to act stands in stark contrast to the harrowing scenes European citizens see every day: the death of an infant at an overcrowded asylum registration center; a Spanish island that receives more migrants than there are residents; capsized boats and drowning deaths; and criminal enterprises engaged in migrant smuggling.

How the EU decides to meet the moment will determine what costs they will bear, whether they will disincentivize the brutality of illegal immigration and the associated business of trafficking, and how they will deal with neighbors to turn off the spigot at the source.

The immigration and border crises in Europe are unique and often driven by war and civil unrest in countries that are contiguous to the EU. In many ways, however, the problems at European borders and the frustrations felt by the citizens are very similar to the situation that Americans are experiencing at their own southern border.

In both situations, illegal immigration is increasing at an unsustainable rate. From June 2023 to December 2023, the United States saw an 86% increase in the number of encounters with illegal entrants into the country. In 2022, 1,120,380 immigrants were found to be illegally present in the EU, a 64.8% increase from just a year prior, when 679,730 immigrants were found to be illegally present.

The far-left leaders running both the EU and the U.S. are failing to act. In Washington, Congress remains deadlocked on the border and President Biden has failed to take any executive action. The people of Europe are getting even less when they look to their leaders. The EU’s border agency warned that stopping migration was impossible while also reporting that irregular immigration from Western Africa surged in January, increasing more than tenfold year-over-year.

Individual countries in the EU are being forced to push back against Brussels and enact their own border security measures to ensure the sovereignty of their countries. Many countries in the EU have reintroduced border controls because of the flood of illegal immigration, with roughly half of member countries implementing stricter checks that had been eased in the Schengen zone.

Through sheer force of will, concerned countries in the EU have been able to force some action from their leaders, who recently agreed to a new immigration deal. Those advocating for border security in Europe and a sane immigration policy must be supported and bolstered from the outside. Advocates of illegal immigration will not relent, and neither can supporters of legal borders.

Illegal immigration by undocumented entrants represents a real security threat to any nation. On top of that, Europe’s profligate social benefits model provides costly taxpayer benefits on immigrants entering legally or illegally. Allowing unchecked illegal immigration to continue is untenable for the U.S. or Europe.

It is essential that the United States learn from the mistakes of Europe and take action to protect its broken border as soon as possible. At the same time, law-abiding people around the world must support the efforts of individual countries within the European Union to do the same.

The Facts About Europe's Broken Immigration System

  • In 2022, 1,120,380 immigrants were found to be illegally present in the EU, a 64.8% increase from just a year prior, when 679,730 immigrants were found to be illegally present.
  • Nearly 70% of illegal immigrants in the EU were to be found in just five countries: Hungary, Germany, Italy, France, and Austria.
  • More than 90% of illegal immigrants traveling to the EU used migrant-smuggling networks mostly run by criminal groups.
  • The number of West African migrants reaching Spain’s Canary Islands surged more than 1,000% year-over-year, from 566 in January 2023 to 7,270 in January 2024.
  • The EU’s border agency warned that stopping migration was impossible while also reporting that irregular immigration from Western Africa surged in January, increasing more than tenfold year-over-year.
  • Many countries in the EU have reintroduced border controls because of the flood of illegal immigration, with roughly half of member countries implementing stricter checks that had been eased in the Schengen zone.
The Erosion of Meritocracy

A rising focus on “social justice” and “equality of outcomes” among the European Union’s political leadership is eroding the notion of meritocracy and disincentivizing success.

Leaders of the EU envision a system where centralized governments control power and redistribute resources as they deem necessary. They reject a society based on merit that allows individuals to rise up and prosper based on their own hard work and achievement. Instead, Europe is rapidly moving toward a dangerous system in which workers provide the majority of their earnings to politicians who redistribute wealth to other individuals as they see fit.

The European welfare state is associated with numerous unintended negative consequences for high income and low income earners alike. For instance, as a World Bank study discovered, a high rate of taxes to offset redistributive policies actually pushes low-income individuals back into poverty. As the study noted, “the poor could be made worse off to the extent that the burden of taxes is higher than the social benefits received.”

Not only do these government-run redistribution programs often make people’s economic conditions worse off, they are plagued by waste, fraud, and abuse. The European Court of Auditors found over €196 billion in wasted EU spending in 2022 and concluded that a large amount of the money was not used compliantly and that “the level of error was material and pervasive.”

It is bad enough that the EU’s redistributive social welfare programs contribute toward high taxes and poverty while wasting hundreds of billions of euros, but those may still not be the worst consequences. The most pernicious impact of Europe’s redistributive welfare and labor policies is the underlying antipathy toward hard work, merit, and earned success.

The death of meritocracy has coincided with greater dissatisfaction and less engagement at work for most Europeans. According to Gallup, only 14% of European employees say that they “are engaged at work.” That is the lowest rate of any region in the world and less than half the share of respondents in the U.S. who said they were engaged at work.

The lack of engagement at work and feeling that one cannot earn a higher standing make Europeans some of the most dissatisfied workers in the world. In 2022, a widespread labor survey found that one-third of all workers in the EU were planning to leave their job within three months. High attrition related to dissatisfaction at work is becoming a major problem for the European economy as the job vacancy rate doubled from 2020 to 2022 even as more people should have been heading back to the workforce following the pandemic.

The European Union has actively pursued policies that punish hard work and minimize merit. The long-term effects will contribute to the mass exodus of jobs, capital, and employers from the continent. The political assault on merit is also a key contributor to Europe’s deadly cycle of spending, taxes, and debt. Concerned policymakers must understand the phenomenon and its impact in order to prevent it from happening in America or anywhere else.

The Facts About Redistribution, Merit and European Dissatisfaction at Work

  • The European Central Bank (ECB) – headed by Christine Lagarde – is under fire after a member of the ECB’s executive board remarked about not wanting to hire people that they would have to “reprogramme” if they held different views on climate change
  • Rather than focusing on monetary policy, the ECB has increasingly realigned its mission to incorporate climate change policies and make its work greener
  • The EU has long pushed for a stringent “corporate sustainability due diligence directive” that would compel large companies to police their supply chains for human rights or environmental risks
  • The European Court of Auditors found over €196 billion in wasted EU spending in 2022 and determined and concluded that a large amount of money was not used compliantly and that “the level of error was material and pervasive”
  • A 2022 analysis from McKinsey found that “of 16,000 respondents in nine European countries, shows that fully one-third of respondents say that they expect to quit their jobs in the next three to six months”