Saturday, 10 December 2011

€uroskeptic, or €urodestructive?

The current round of rejoicing evidenced in some anti-EU sections of the media, politics and blogosphere should concern the various governments involved. As ever, the problem arises because the public are not told the whole truth by the politicians and now that some of their 'omissions' are becoming all to public, they don't really know how to handle the problem.

A part of the problem is that there is a huge amount of anti-French (I know - I'm prejudiced on that one!), anti-German, anti-Italian and general anti-anyone not 'British' swilling around in the UK mindset. It has to be said that there are similar mindsets in other parts of the EU as well. I regularly read comments to reports on various EU matters by, one hopes, intelligent people, saying things like "you can't trust the Germans, they're still trying to rule the world" or the even better one "the Germans are doing secret deals with the Vatican to ..." That last is priceless as the Vatican has a problem with Germany where their congregations are dwindling fast and the remainder are at odds with the bishops and clergy and want more liberalisation, woman priests, married clergy and so on. Yes, I can see the Vatican cuddlying up to the Germans - not.

Again, in various sections of the press and blogosphere one now regularly reads the statement that "the Franco-German ambition is to recreate Charlemagne's Empire..." The authority for this is, apparently, the fact that Napoleon, Louis XIV, Hitler and presumably others have all held this "ambition." I'll concede that certainly Napoleon and the last named dictator may have entertained this ambition, but is this really what has driven the creation of the EU? Somehow I doubt it. I may have missed some tricks somewhere in the debate (Its been going long enough!), but I seem to recall that the whole thing has its origins in Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg, the former "Benelux" countries who had a nice little economic thing going and which others thought they'd like a piece of. Again, from memory, France managed to join and then the European Economic Community grew out of the experiment. Again, it seemed such a good idea, others wanted in and for a while Germany wasn't allowed to join at all if memory serves.

The EEC is what Britain, rather tentatively joined in 1974-75, at a time when Labour overspending, Union militancy and a few other little problems - like massive unemployment, benefit fraud and the like  - had brought the Pound to its knees. The price for joining was high, the UK promptly ditched preferred trade agreements with its Commonwealth which certainly didn't win them any friends there and drove those they had even further beyond the proverbial pale. Right from the start the UK has been the "awkward" squad at the table, often to the despair of others who have had to make all the compromises only to have the UK throw further spanners in the works.

What I now find interesting about all this is that with the €uro in deep trouble, the British, who are not part of it and probably never will be, want a say in its management. In fact, they want it to fail. The reason? It is claimed that surrendering the national budgets of the member currencies to a central "treasury" is "undemocratic." And this is where the propaganda really is running wild. The whole scheme is now proclaimed to be a German "plot" to seize control of Europe by the back door. I read on one report the statement that "until the €uro, the Deutschmark was sinking fast, the German economy was in ruins, moribund and stagnating ..." I presume that would be the DM that was valued at DM3 to the Pound Sterling, then strengthened dramatically thanks to speculators against the Pound and the US Dollar, forcing the UK out of the ERM. That would also be the Deutschmark and the economy it served that provided the bulk of the underpinning capital that launched the €uro.

I have to confess that I am not a fan of the EU in its present form. I do not like the unelected Commission or the vast, expensive and probably utterly incompetent bureaucracy that has grown up around it and seems to be Belgium's only industry. I do not like having an unelected EU President and I particularly don't like the fact that it seems to be neither fish nor fowl when it comes to being any sort of state or power.

I don't want to see the €uro fail. Why? Simply because it will cause enormous hardship for everyone, and not just for the nations using it. It will cost enormous numbers of jobs right across Europe and even in Britain. It will hit the poorest, not those currently screaming for it to be killed off by any means possible, and it will damage trade for and in Europe very badly indeed. It will have a terrible impact on a wide range of things, from European stability, defence, aid to developing nations and on social security for the elderly, the sick and the disabled. An entire raft of subsidies currently rebuilding various depressed areas and countries recovering from the years of communist "socialist" misrule will vanish. Those in the UK who think the money currently paid to Europe will come home to be "redistributed" delude themselves, it will simply vanish into even less productive uses, such as an increase in our own bureaucracy.

Once away from the very parochial and partisan UK media, one quickly realises that there are many other players in this game, one of the largest being the UN and all its "agencies." The "Treaties" signed in the UN should get the same sort of scrutiny the UK currently gives to Europe. They would quickly discover that while Brussels is bad, the UN is a far greater threat to self determination and government. The UN is not at all democratic and is, more and more, run to agendas set by NGOs such as Greenpeace, Oxfam and others.

I never thought I would admit that Napoleon had actually done something good, but I have to confess that his reform and harmonisation of Europe's myriad legal and justice systems was, in the words of 1066 and all that, a "Good Thing." Its a great pity that the UK's wasn't reformed then and its an even greater pity that it is now in the hands of bureaucrats who have little legal training who make use of the ignorance of the politicians to gold plate, duplicate and over burden Britain with laws and regulations they claim "Brussels has imposed."

I suspect that the EU is stood on the edge of a precipice. It isn't a nice place to be for a group of peoples who, for the most part, get along fine, when they are not being mislead, misdirected and threatened. It is not a safe place to be when some of the members are so busy playing to the "home audience" they fail to see the danger for themselves of falling off the edge.

I'm pretty sure that the EU will survive, possibly shedding some of its members and reducing in size. I'm also sure that once it actually decides whether it is a "State" or  wants to remain a loose collection of trading blocs it will have a clearer idea of direction. Frankly, in this day and age, a United States of Europe has a certain appeal, but to achieve that there has to be consensus on the role of the "nation states"and how they manage their internal affairs. I was recently reminded that the USA didn't have that easy a start up either. The Dollar went through some spectacular ups and downs and there were, and I think still are, arguments about the authority and power of individual state legislatures and the Federal Government.

The €uro is ten years old, I think it may well be around for at least another ten and probably longer. I certainly hope so, I have no desire to see Europe and the western world plunged, as it will be, into the sort of economic abyss they faced in the 1920s and 30s.

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