Joined: 03 Jun 2005
|Posted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:04 pm Post subject: CAMERON CAVES IN TO THE EURO LIARS, WE NEED OUT NOW
|Why the euro liars must stop deceiving us - and themselves
By Max Hastings
Last updated at 3:44 PM on 6th December 2011
The leaders of France and Germany — those big bosses of Europe — announced yesterday that they are committed to redraw the continental treaty, what Chancellor Angela Merkel has called ‘a new phase in European integration’, as they fight to keep the euro as a stable currency.
It remains almost beyond belief that Mrs Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy should solemnly announce their assent to what is, in effect, a pact to agree that the Earth is flat.
But other European partners, including David Cameron, have expressed support, confronting us with the spectacle of almost the entire political leadership of the continent marching decisively towards a cliff edge.
Nobody dares to tell the truth to their electorates: that the governments of Europe are embracing policies which are both wildly anti-democratic and cannot work.
It is plain that in future, Germany and France will dominate Europe even more than they have done in the past
Merkel is willing to ask German tax- payers to bail out the euro, or at least its insolvent and struggling members, only if they agree to ironclad fiscal rules which remove almost all discretionary budgetary powers from national governments, and commit tens of millions of people to years of austerity.
Such a plan might keep the eurozone afloat in the short-term, but it is almost impossible to see how it provides a sustainable solution.
The truth is that the European financial crisis has laid bare the fact that Greece, together probably with Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy, are inherently unsuited to living within the financial discipline the euro requires.
Gangster: Silvio Berlusconi is one example of the corruption that is rife in Europe, with Greece leading the way. Is it possible to stabilise the Euro with such partners?
They are all more or less corrupt societies, Greece especially so. Indeed, George Papaconstantinou, until recently Greece’s finance minister, memorably observed that the first thing that a government does in an election year is to ‘pull the tax collectors off the streets’.
For generations, Greeks and Italians have lived according to standards entirely different from those in Germany or Britain: in southern Europe, only stupid people pay taxes, and the law is an infinitely flexible instrument.
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s repeatedly re-elected Prime Minister, was by our values little short of a gangster. Greek governments have for years displayed consistency only in their reckless irresponsibility and unfitness for power.
Under pressure: Cameron must not agree to sign any document that institutionalises Britain's pansy status
Does anyone believe that these nations can change?
Of course, their governments will agree to anything to squeeze cheques out of Germany. But it seems absurd to suppose they will stick to the new rules for longer than five minutes, any more than they would give up drink.
For the supposed Merkel-Sarkozy rescue plan to work, Germany would need to govern the southern European states as colonies, with her own financial pro-consuls in every treasury, her own monitoring officers in every government department.
As it is, and because German hegemony is utterly unacceptable for historical reasons, an equally bad outcome is proposed: power to check the books and crack the whip will be vested undemocratically in Brussels.
The European Commission and European Central Bank will have extraordinary new responsibility and authority, a million miles beyond the scrutiny or veto of humble voters.
The former British MP and distinguished political historian David Marquand has written: ‘At the heart of the European project lay an unchallenged but pervasive ambivalence about politics. In transcending the nation states, the founding fathers were also seeking to transcend — or rather to escape from — the messy, vulgar, clamorous conventionalities of political life.’
While this has been true for decades, now the leaders of Europe plan to make it much worse. They propose new rules that nobody really believes can sustain the eurozone in its present form, and which will also cripple European democracy. Indeed, it should be a hanging offence for all Europe’s leaders to continue to deceive their peoples about the viability of the eurozone.
Meanwhile, though, David Cameron seems likely to acquiesce in the proposed European treaty changes — which will require the assent of non-eurozone members — without seizing the opportunity to insist on changes in Britain’s relationship with Europe.
Why? Because he does not want to incur obloquy as the man who blocked measures which we are told are ‘indispensable to save the euro and avert financial catastrophe’.
In the weeks and months ahead, Cameron will be under enormous pressure — not least from his Lib Dem coalition partners — to agree to almost anything the Germans and French cook up rather than then seek to use the opportunity to renegotiate Britain’s position in the EU.
But most of the British people would say that it is overdue for this country to wrest back some national advantage from Europe.
In the meantime, this crisis has exposed the simple fact that the weaker economies are inherently unsuited to share a common currency.
At the heart of much brainless thinking is the hope that we can somehow ring-fence our cosy, wildly over-entitled social model from the icy winds of Asian competitiveness. This is utter folly. To have a chance to compete with the Chinese, Indians and Koreans, we shall have to work harder, pay ourselves less, retire later, and accept major cuts in social benefits.
Scarcely any country in Europe yet accepts such realities.
Undemocratic: In desperation to save the Euro, leaders are agreeing to almost anything
Most voters — the Irish honourably excluded — are busy dumping any government which tries to prescribe harsh medicine. Never having known real austerity or the need to accept hard choices, most voters recoil from them. Our leaders, knowing this, twist and turn in all directions rather than tell hard truths.
It might seem incredible that intelligent and experienced politicians should behave like this. But we have been here before.
I am currently researching a book on 1914, the year in which catastrophic conflict engulfed Europe. Today, I fear, we are witnessing the same phenomenon: rational statesmen are sleepwalking into courses which threaten if not our lives, at least our livelihoods.
I do not for a moment suggest that this European crisis will end in armed conflict. But it seems highly likely that it will precipitate economic miseries such as we have not experienced for many decades.
We cannot ignore the warnings of the Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, who spoke of looming disaster as starkly as he did last week.
As for the euro flat-earthers, every clever economist whom I know agrees that the eurozone cannot survive without dropping its weaker members.
The idea of ‘fiscal union’ (common tax and spend policies within the eurozone) cannot work in practice, and is anyway repugnantly anti-democratic.
As for David Cameron, it is now plain that the success or failure of his premiership will be decided first by whether he can revive the British economy; and second by whether he can radically redefine this country’s relationship with Europe, liberating us from its worst social and anti-competitive burdens.
We are now in a continent-wide economic predicament of which no responsible pundit feels able to predict the outcome. The only thing that is clear is that all our leaders are lying to us — and worse, maybe also to themselves — about the credibility of the ‘rescue’ Chancellor Merkel proposes.
For his part, David Cameron is heading for huge trouble with the British public if he supposes that he can be party to any new treaty with Brussels without Britain securing new terms.
Some lawyers say that it is constitutionally impossible for us to secure any unilateral new deal. However, common sense suggests this is rubbish.
When the whole European relationship is being recast, Britain must be allowed to make its own call.
Don't toss your gun: Cameron can not and must not bow to the power of Germany's money as we enter this 'new phase in European integration'
It is plain that in future, Germany and France will dominate Europe even more than they have done in the past — with Berlin paying most of the bills for keeping the euro on life support, so it will call the shots.
Britain will be a marginal player, with small influence on key decisions. But David Cameron must never sign any new European document, in the name of the British people, which institutionalises our poodle-patsy status.
We are heading towards a high noon for Europe which few of us ever expected to witness in our lifetimes, and which the Prime Minister cannot resolve by tossing down his gun..