ON BEHALF of the European Union, Let Me Welcome the New Entrants That Are Going to Make the Common Market More Common and the European Economic Community Less Economic

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ON BEHALF of the European Union, let me welcome the new entrants that are going to make the Common Market more common and the European Economic Community less economic. Regrettably we have been unable to locate all the new members on a map, but here is The Businesss guide to the enlarged EU.

u Ruritania: Middle European monarchy currently usurped by wicked Black Michael. Human rights issues: King Rudolfs imprisonment in Zenda castle. EU membership may help put UK lookalike on throne.

u Avalon: Romantic monarchy led by King Arthur and governed by round table comprising 150 knights 100 hereditary, 28 nominated by Merlin and the rest selected on worthiness. Closely allied with Camelot (see below). Main industry: producing swords from stone.

u Camelot: Corporate monopoly aiming to finance good causes by gambling proceeds. Leadership has lost public support and is failing to meet targets. Currency: the zlotto.

u Atlantis: Maritime kingdom seeking EU funding to improve sea defences. Currency: conch shells. Population: nil.

u Nirvana: Technically a state rather than a country. Extremely peaceful, if passionless. Copulation: nil.

u Transylvania: Aristocracy with rule passed through blood-line to the current Count. Country offers a stake in the heart of Europe. Good plasma banks. Anti-social problem: vampires. Population: ill.

u El Dorado: Sovereign nation still on gold standard. Social problems: greedy illegal European immigrants. GDP: several bullion. Currency: pieces of eight.

u Shangri La: Unconstitutional democracy and uneconomic paradise. Residents in border dispute with Dunroamin over the leylandii hedge.

u Utopia: Economic fantasy with high standard of living and low taxes. Main export: envy. Population: very content.

u Never-Never Land: Piratical Pan-European republic that finances itself on hire-purchase. In danger of being repossessed. Social problems: population never reaches working age.

u Cloud Cuckoo Land: Benign dictatorship which incurs public spending in belief that Camelot (see above) will provide finance. Twinned with Brussels. Currency: thought to grow on trees.

Last one standing wins a pension

IF WE all continue working until we are 70 we can have a state pension of pound sterling100 a week, says the National Association of Pension Funds. Why stop there though?

If we keep our shoulders to the grindstone until we are 80, I suspect those of us still alive to receive it can have pound sterling200 or pound sterling300 a week. If we refuse to allow shirkers to collect their pensions until they turn 100, we could have a generation of millionaire pensioners. The later we leave it, the more the pension becomes a tontine in which the survivor takes all.

Now I have no objection to people working beyond 65 if they want to and if they can, but one sign of a civilised society is that the retirement age is lowered, not increased. There is no point funding better pensions if it means worse working lives: the standard of living is as important as income which is why most people want to stop work before they reach their three-score-plus-ten. …