Visualising the EU Budget

Last week’s map series on the financial state of the European Union focused on a general overview of how population and economic activity relate to the financial framework of the Union. The current financial framework covers the period of 2007-2013 and ensures a certain planning security for the main areas of the common political goals of the EU. With the current framework expiring next year, tense negotiations are under way for the forthcoming Multiannual financial framework 2014-2020. The outcome will undoubtedly have major implications on the functioning of the European Union, as the budget allows key political areas to be pursued beyond national politics: “The Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) defines the EU’s long-term spending priorities in line with the agreed political priorities and sets annual maximum amounts to be spent on each priority. The financial framework stretches over several years [...] to ensure sound and responsible financial planning and management.”
The following map series shows the current funding priorities of the EU budget. It shows that beyond the net benefits and contributions, large proportions of the money are actually redistributed between the wealthiest member states. The first two maps compares how much is paid into and received from the EU budget by each member state at the moment:

Cartogram / Map of the Money Paid into and received from the Budget of the European Union
(click for larger version)

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The State of the European Union

The European Union is an economic and political partnership between 27 European countries that together cover a large part of the European continent. As the EU website explains: “It was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential. But what began as a purely economic union has also evolved into an organisation spanning all policy areas, from development aid to environment. A name change from the EEC to the European Union (the EU) in 1993 reflected this change.
The Nobel Prize Committee recognised the achievements of the European Union by awarding the 2012 Peace Price to the projectfor over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe“. But in the shadow of the European debt crisis Europe appears less the united with Euroscepticism gaining momentum in some countries. A 2009 study by the European Commission “Portugal and Hungary (both 50%) and Latvia (51%) contain the fewest people who feel optimistic about the EU’s future. The UK (53%), Greece (54%) and France (57%) also record noticeably low figures” (see page 212 in the accompanying report). “Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom has been a significant element in British politics since the inception of the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor to the EU”, concludes a Wikipedia contribution, which reflects the emotional and often – in either way – dogmatic nature of the debate in the most skeptic members of the Union. The EU appears to have become a welcome recession scapegoat.
But what is the European Union anyway. Rather than an alien construct imposed on the member states, it still is the agreed structure set up by its member states (for the good or bad, that is). The following series of maps gives a brief introduction into some of the key figures that shape the countries that are part of the EU and who are about the meet for negotiations on how to fund the European Union for the rest of the decade – having crucial implications on the role and purpose of the project. All maps shown here are cartograms based on national-level statistics. The first map is a population cartogram of the member states showing where how many people live (a more detailed perspective gives this gridded population cartogram of the EU):

Cartogram / Map of the population of the European Union
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US presidential election results

The old tenant in the White House stays for another four years after Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States. By the time of writing, Obama has secured 303 of the electoral votes, while his opponent Romney could only secure 206. The 29 votes from Florida were still undecided, but showed a favour towards Obama. The number of votes in the electoral college which elects the president reflects very much the population distribution in the country, and according to the US voting system one state gives all its votes to the winning candidate in that state. Therefore the presidential election is often displayed on a map based on state-level results. What the conventional maps fail in though is a correct proportional view of the votes, giving the less densely populated space in the mid-west a lot more space in the map display compared to the densely populated east or also larger states such as Washington. The following state-level population cartogram corrects that perspective by resizing each of the US states according to its total population and colouring the state by the colour of the winning candidate in the 2012 presidential election (assuming Florida also goes to Obama as currently predicted):

Cartogram / Map of the US Presidential Election 2012
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In Focus: Financing the European Union

Political InsightThe Eurozone crisis has made monetary issues the focal point of political debate about the nature of the European Union, not just within members of the common currency but across the 27 states that constitute the EU. Discussions about emergency bailouts and transfers to support struggling economies have distorted the public perception of the costs and benefits of the Union.
The actual EU budget is based on a multiannual financial framework, negotiated among the individual members and agreed upon at the level of European institutions. The current financial framework covers the period 2007–2013. Negotiations for the framework from 2014 to 2020 are under way. These discussions are greatly influenced by the implications of the current crisis. In a feature for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (September 2012, Volume 3, Issue 2) Danny Dorling and I looked at the current financial framework and how the money is redistributed across the member states.
Maps and bar chart of net benefits/payments in the budget of the European Union - Financial framework 2007-2013 Continue reading

London’s Vote 2012

The old Mayor is the new Mayor of London as Boris Johnson secured a second term in office at this month’s election in the British capital. This left contender Ken Livingstone in second place at a campaign that was put the two personalities more into the spotlight than the underlying politics. Beyond the decision between Boris and Ken the elections provided an insight into how much the political patterns have changed since the last election in 2008. As a comparison to the feature published before the election, I created the same map series from the 2012 election results, giving an updated view of the political landscapes of London of all contestants and their respective political parties. This year’s election saw fewer candidates and resulted in a more polarised picture between the two main parties (Conservative and Labour) and the smaller ones. Nevertheless, the individual vote distributions of all participating parties (and candidates) result in specific patterns that correspond to the preferences of the population in London. Majorities of votes from each part of the political spectrum – from right to left wing views – are significantly distributed, not only when it comes to differences between Labour- and Conservative strongholds, but also for the smaller parties, as the following map series demonstrates by mapping the individual vote shares accordingly. The results are displayed on a gridded population cartogram of London (election data provided by London Elects):

The 2012 London Mayoral Election in Maps(click for larger view)

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Political Landscapes of London

Londoners will decide on their new mayor on the 3rd of May in this year’s mayoral election. Directly elected mayors were introduced in England in 2000 when Labour candidate Ken Livingstone was elected the first Mayor of London. He therefore also became the first to have this position in England under the Local Government Act 2000 introduced by the then Labour government under Prime Minister Tony Blair. Meanwhile, other cities have followed, and more will have a referendum on the issue on the same day Londoners go to the polls this year. Continue reading