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Romanians and Bulgarians “less intelligent”, says MEP

Comments "childish" says Weber 19th May 2009: South-eastern Europeans are not as intelligent as their northern counterparts and should not be allowed to decide Europe’s future, a leading MEP has claimed. With this, Danish MEP Mogens Camre has kicked off a controversy in Brussels.
 
"When I look at the voting rules, I see countries like Romania and Bulgaria have many more votes than Denmark and Sweden and Finland, and I think – honestly speaking – that we are more intelligent than they are," he told Radio France Internationale (RFI).
 
Camre is deputy leader of the Europe of the Nations group in the European Parliament, whose People’s Party is part of Denmark’s ruling coalition. The outburst from Camre came as the number of seats a country gets in the European Parliament is calculated according to population size.
 
When the new European parliament sits again after June’s elections, Denmark will lose one of its 14 seats, and Romania and Bulgaria will have 50 seats between them. With a combined population of nearly 30 million, they will dwarf Denmark’s meagre 5.5 million in numbers as well as influence. This loss has been worrying MEPs such as Camre, who also considers the growth of the EU a threat to national cultures.
 
He said it was ‘unjust’ that Bulgaria and Romania’s combined population of 30 million could outvote the Danes, Finns and Swedes who number 20 million.
 
Camre said since Romanians and Bulgarians have not created healthy societies themselves, they should not have a say over countries that were "more healthy and viable".
 
"We (in western and northern Europe) have much more transparency, democracy, and social welfare. And we don’t think that people who did not create healthy societies should decide for us. Countries which we consider old-fashioned, anti-reform, in many cases directly reactionary, have so much influence in Europe."
 
Camre is part of the conservative Danish People’s Party, part of the governing coalition in Copenhagen. It is believed his concerns reflect a growing cultural divide between the smaller, richer countries of northern Europe, who fear losing their clout to the large populations of the new eastern and Balkans members.
 
"The French are different from the Danes, Danes are different from Greeks, and Portuguese are different from Finnish people," he said, adding open borders brought a rise in crime.
 
Denmark, like Germany, still refuses to open its borders fully to workers from new member states. "Today you have criminals from all of Europe who are travelling across Europe," Camre’s says. "They can be in France one day and be in Denmark 12 hours later … and it’s impossible for the citizens to feel safe."
 
Reacting to the assertion, Romanian MEP Renate Weber dismissed the comments as "childish" and superficial. "I don’t think that Scandinavians are more intelligent and clever than any others. It is true that they do have a welfare state, and they have a long-functioning democracy.
 
"The truth is that they are in many respects doing better than many European member states, not only Romania and Bulgaria."
 
Weber said Europe has to deal with the political and cultural divide. "Not only the difference between south and north, which is a reality … But more specific: it is a difference between countries who came out of the communist regime two decades ago," she said, adding that countries like hers have a lot to learn.

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