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Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive, however the e-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion. We may also edit some e-mails for legal reasons and for purposes of clarity and length.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.


The UK should withdraw from Europe for all matters other than the free market and develop further its historic ties with the English speaking world: the US and the British Commonwealth. Britain's traditional enemies still live across the channel.
William Parr, Watchfield, Oxfordshire

I'm French and have been living in the UK for 4 years. I would not go and live back in France unless a more liberal approach to economy is taken. The Anglo-Saxon model may not be the best in the world, but it is better than the French way of assisting people far too much.

I think that the other French living in the UK will agree that the model here is a more pro-active one and provides more growth potential for the economy.
Valentin, Slough

Excellent programme. Shows that Europe is a big clumsy dinosaur. There will never be agreement with so many different cultures. We should get out now while we still have something worth saving.
Peter Fielden, Evesham, England

It was a very interesting programme, and much more positive about free market capitalism than most programmes on public television in my native country.

However, one thing struck me as odd. If those people in the Scandinavian countries pay such high taxes to get "free" education, won't they be paying much more taxes over a lifetime than they received in benefits?

And won't the Scandinavians that don't go to university at all be paying high taxes to fund an education of which they receive no benefit at all?

I am not economically educated, but it also seems unlikely that such high taxes do not somehow hinder economic growth. If it is mostly incomes that are taxed, it will lower employment, and if it is mostly consumption that is taxed, in the form of a high VAT, consumption will be lowered. The Scandinavian "miracle", sounds a bit too miraculous to be believed. What is it you British say about having a cake and eating it?

Other than that, an excellent programme. Let's hope France and Germany will move towards more economic freedom. Of course when it comes to outdated and inefficient state agencies like the NHS, there is still a bit more to liberalise in Britain itself.

Great Britain may be more economically free than the rest of Europe, but in comparison to many other countries, like Eastern Europe, it also still has some way to go towards total freedom and low taxes for its citizens.
J J Baltus, The Netherlands

In the Panorama programme we could have heard about the plight that the Third World faces as a result of EU policy - particularly agricultural policy, undercutting prices in the Third World. It took rather a long time before this issue hit the media, and when it did the political agenda came through strongly.

But if there is an issue of cheap produce from the poorer countries undercutting prices in Europe and causing unemployment, then what needs to be considered is a sliding scale of protectionism versus free trade; the slider is a floating affair, deciding how much protectionism is permitted; it is continuously updated to restrain the suddenness of mass unemployment caused by change.
Tom Milner-Gulland, Oxford, England

Consider instead that the French taxpayer is happy to get the service he needs - just like the Finnish one: in Britain we might pay less taxes but here trains suck and buses are worse.
Pietro Roversi, Oxford
If unemployment is so bad in Germany and France - why are their young people not flocking here. Is it because unemployment benefits in France and Germany add up to more than the minimum wage here?

We have low unemployment in the UK because the minimum wage is really workfare and this Government has created hundreds of thousands of jobs in public service.

Why do the Finns have 45% of GDP paid in taxation and we have only 35% of GDP paid in taxation? Because we have much, much lower tax rates on the very highly paid - a ceiling of 40% and no wealth taxes other than IHT which is avoided by the super-rich anyway.

The Finns will have a much flatter distribution of both income and wealth than we do. We ape the US Republican model introduced by Mrs Thatcher and carried on by Mr Blair's sham socialists.
Chris Wyatt, Stalybridge, England

Great show. I am a student of European economics and I was pleased that France and Germany were praised for there standards of living, this is often overlooked and they are instead brandished as 'basket cases'. I agree with the need to reform labour markets and social insurance contributions and benefits, but it must be understood that every country is different and to talk of 'models' is perhaps short-sighted.
Matthew Anscomb, Exeter, Devon

Calm and considered report by Mr Little. Still slightly slanted to Anglo-American, global model as a panacea to present stagnation. Please keep in mind that Europe (that is France and Germany) has a mission and identity which should not be given up too quickly under American or global pressure. Or is Europe really only another satellite of the US of A?
Klaus Kadur, Westcliff on Sea, Essex

Europe will never be reformed and it will hold us back. We should leave the EU and have a simple trading agreement that we thought we had signed up to in the first place.
Lawrie Brownlee, Sidmouth, Devon

An interesting programme. Maybe you could have shown more about the Scandinavian education system, and the degree of equality for women there.

One thing: saying that the French train system runs in deficit is a misrepresentation. As the failure of the present day British train system tells us, trains and buses cannot be run like companies if you want a decent service.

Consider instead that the French taxpayer is happy to get the service he needs - just like the Finnish one: in Britain we might pay less taxes but here trains suck and buses are worse.
Pietro Roversi, Oxford, England, UK

I enjoyed the programme and found it very enlightening however, I think the issue of the Euro was not addressed.

I realise that one of the success stories of the programme, Finland, is also is the Euro Zone but there have always been countries that have done well with the Euro owing to their economic cycle.

Germany and France, in particular, are suffering from the membership of the single currency as they have no capacity to manage their own economies.
Charles Matthews, Liverpool, England

The UK is in no position to lecture anyone on economic management
Guy Mac, Cheltenham

It obviously has not occurred to the writers that the French and German economies are now growing faster than ours. The French enjoy a higher standard of living than the British AND have more generous benefits. The average person has a much better deal in France, even if they do not have a job, so all this talk of Britain's great 'economic model' is a bit hollow.
Matt Leese, Sheffield, England

In your "Battle for Europe" documentary I was quite surprised that you didn't mention the Republic of Ireland. Ireland has been one of the most remarkable economic success stories and it's all been based around "Anglo-Saxon" style liberal economics, flexible labour, lowering taxes and a decisive push for policies that create economic growth.
David Kelly, Ireland

Always amusing to listen to Jack Straw. The UK is in no position to lecture anyone on economic management, when the British economy is solely fuelled by the equity sucked out of property and the money poured into the public sector.

Two thirds of new employment under Labour is in public sector, 1% of UK GDP is made up of public sector spending. We have historically high trade deficits and fiscal borrowings that triggered IMF alarm bells. The Brits feel smug, they always do in a rising property market. The property market is not strong because the economy is strong, but in fact the economy is strong because the property market is strong. Or was.
Guy Mac, Cheltenham

Your analysis is too simple. In the 1980s and early 90s Britain had an extremely liberal market. We also had 3 million unemployed. France and Germany had a more social market than we did then too but had much lower unemployment.

I could go into the economic arguments in detail, but it would take several thousand words. A small part of the explanation is that in the 80s and early 90s Britain ran down its infrastructure. For the last eight years we have been building new hospitals and schools and rebuilding the rail network. More than 500,000 more people are directly employed by the government in this country than were employed by them 8 years ago. More than 1.5 million more people are working in private sector jobs that result from the government's new projects.

Germany spent a massive amount on rebuilding the East German economy after re-unification. It nevertheless underestimated the vast cost involved, as the whole of the former DDR economy was redundant and Germany is now feeling the cost.

Finland is benefiting from its proximity to the fast growing Baltic states and eastern European economies.

The main reason why the Common Agricultural Policy needs to be reformed is that third world countries can only really compete with high-tech countries in agriculture. It causes suffering and death in Africa and elsewhere if we do not let third world economies compete on fair terms where they are competitive, but force them to open their markets in industrial goods and services. There is no strategic advantage to Europe in producing expensive food at home rather than buying cheap food from the third world. We can always spend our money protecting the countryside in other ways if we wish to.
Stephen Franklin, London

The sooner we get out of Europe and renew our relations with the Commonwealth and USA the better. The whole European thing is now out of control.
J Niblett, Stourbridge, Worcs

In highlighting the fact that it was the privatisation and liberalisation reforms in Britain in the 1980s and of Finland in the 1990s which turned round those economies, the programme showed that the EU is completely unnecessary for wealth creation and the ability of countries to compete in a global market. It is the very existence of EU regulations and costs that damages competitiveness and prosperity; the EU is the problem, not the solution for Europe's failure to grow and compete in world markets.
Jon, London, UK

There is more to life than bare economics
Tom, The Hague, Netherlands
There is more to life than bare economics. Sometimes, cultural heritage transcends economics and something that makes no economic sense is worth protecting.

After all, Europe is famous for both its cultural wealth and its material wealth. On the other hand, treating your whole economy as a prime cheese or vintage wine, as the French and Germans seem to be doing, doesn't work either, to say the least. I suppose every country would need to work out how it can sustain a healthy economy and protect the treasures it deems worth protection.

Neither the British, nor the French model are the answer, neither is the Finnish for that matter, not for every country. Countries do need to realise, though that in order to sustain your lifestyle, you need a healthy economy. Its the basis.
Tom, The Hague, Netherlands

We need more programmes like this. At last, a clear view on things for the masses. Globalisation is here and now. The EU is too restrictive for Britain to remain a member for too much longer - we can and do trade with the world. Old Europe is in its death throws as a world entity - if it ever was. I look forward to a brave UK Prime Minister giving us the vote to leave the EU in the near future - it is obvious that we should as soon as possible.
Ian , Whitwick, England

I agree with the points made by Pietro Roversi above: why should public services be run at a profit? Sometimes it's just not viable.

The Finnish model is an inspiration, here's hoping that Scottish politicians looking for independence are watching. And, while not everyone chooses to go into further education, the benefits are always felt by society as a whole through a broader social understanding and an expanded skill base.
Colin Webster, Scottish Borders, Scotland

The most interesting part of the programme for me was the interview with the ex-Finnish Prime Minister. He took "tough decisions" for the good of his country to create the economic and social wealth it appears to enjoy now. Small is beautiful in this case.

But in the UK, name me a politician, who is prepared to lose his/her job for the good of the country and doesn't simply take decisions, which will win votes or last the lifespan of the parliament? Our country's so-called economic success is based on debt and it'll come crashing down at some point - that's why no politician really wants to deal with the pension issues. Leave it to the next generation, that's the UK's motto.
Patrick Jones, Great Malvern, UK

I am disappointed about another simplistic vision of European agriculture. The farmers presented as 'models' in the UK can only recover the cost of shearing sheep and this account for tiny part of profitability in sheep production. The type of farming presented is totally uneconomical without some form of subsidy.
JP Garnier, Oxford, United Kingdom

Alan Little's programme was very interesting. Britain should be a bit careful about lecturing France and Germany on economic management. Yes,there may be a need for some increased labour flexibility to help bring unemployment down but,equally,Britain could certainly benefit from having French or German standard trains and hospitals.
Tony Green, Alton, UK

I am still not entirely clear why should there be a "battle" between France and Britain about the regulation of the labour market. Is Tony Blair proposing EU-wide legislation to force the French to enact our labour laws? If he is, this means a more, not less, centralised Europe. And why on earth does Allan Little think that fewer subsidies mean fewer French cheeses? French cheeses are just the kind of high value, specialist products that would thrive in a genuinely free market - just look at the price Roquefort fetches in any UK supermarket.
Edward Hubbard, Derby

I always find it disappointing that such programmes lead to the usual chant about the UK withdrawing from the EU - as if the French and German social models are a product of Brussels! The EU has in fact been an engine for more competition and economic liberalisation. This is one of the reasons why the French rejected the EU constitution.

However, I do wish the government and the British media would stop lecturing the people of France and Germany about the state of their countries. If the French and the Germans want deregulation they can have it when they so choose. After all, Germany is still the world's biggest exporter.
Matthew Clifton, Tokyo, Japan




SEE ALSO
Battle for Europe
24 Nov 05 |  Panorama
Battle for Europe
27 Nov 05 |  Panorama


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