hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Friday, 14 December 2012

A Sad Day for Europe

Alphen, Netherlands. 14 December.  It was strange being with senior British parliamentarians in London yesterday talking about matters strategy and defence. There was an elephant in the corner of the room that was ignored – yesterday’s historic EU summit at which the European Central Bank was given sweeping new powers to supervise two hundred of the largest European banks and agreement reached over a banking union.  Interestingly there were only Americans in the room and no Europeans. It was as though we are already talking about Britain’s future strategy beyond the EU.  The Eurozone has now moved decisively down the road towards banking, financial and ultimately political union, with significant areas of national sovereignty now to be passed to European institutions.  EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso put it succinctly.  The summit he said demonstrated the “irreversibility” of the Euro and economic and monetary union.  He also signalled what is coming next when called for “steps towards a political union”.
 
Britain was not alone with its concerns.  Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg called the decision to create a banking union, “a sad day for Europe”.  “There is a move now towards eurobanks, eurotaxes, eurotransfers…We think these are steps in the wrong direction”.  At least Borg called it as he saw it.  PR-Meister Cameron retreated into the rhetoric of the political scoundrel.  Britain, he said, had insisted upon “safeguards”.  Having again roared like a lion before the summit about protecting the British interest, he squeaked like a mouse at the summit.  This is the classic tactic of all weak British prime ministers when out-manoeuvred in Europe; they stop protecting the British interest and begin conspiring with other European leaders who have what they want to con the British people into believing that a) nothing very important has happened; and b) in any case Britain has ‘opt-outs’ or ‘safeguards’.
The ‘safeguards’ are not worth the ink they are written with.  The ‘deal’ is that to prevent being systematically outvoted by the Eurozone any decisions by the new City of London unfriendly European Banking Authority (EBA) will need to be approved by a majority of the ten EU countries outside the Euro.  Unfortunately for Cameron eight of the ten ‘outs’ are so-called ‘pre-ins’, i.e. member-states that plan to join the Euro, and seven of them will always vote with the Eurozone.  Britain is now utterly subject to a tyrannous majority and it is only a matter of time before this new reality becomes all too apparent.
Cameron, this utterly weak British prime minister is now on the rocks, politically-damaged at home and abroad.  The sooner he goes the better.  Unable to grasp strategy he now simply stumbles on from crisis to crisis hoping against hope that his Eton-honed eloquence can mask his political and strategic shallowness.  Never has British influence in Europe been so low and all because he bought the nonsense pedalled by the Whitehall elite that London can only exert influence by being at the table.  Yesterday demonstrated that Cameron could have been standing on the table, megaphone to his lips shouting and no-one was listening.  It is appalling to watch my once great country so badly led.
Sure, the Eurozone would have bypassed Cameron if he had said ‘no’ as he did last year.  Sure, it is in Britain’s interest to see the Eurozone stabilised.  However, it is not in Britain’s interest to see the creation of a bureaucratic, undemocratic political monster.  Cameron did not fight hard enough on a basic principle; what is happening is a danger to European democracy.  As Sweden’s finance minister said, “It might be very popular among the eurocrats, but I think there are very few Europeans actually wanting these developments”.  In email exchanges this morning with senior European politicians the bustedness of Cameron’s busted flush is all too apparent.
As former Commission President Jacques Delors said this week Britain must now decide if it is ‘in’ or ‘out’.  As of yesterday being ‘in’ will mean joining the Euro as in time there will be no space for Britain to occupy between a ‘mythical’ single market and a single currency, the real single market.  It will also mean that if the British people are conned by the Establishment's economic scaremongering, they will also in effect be agreeing to the end of national self-government and the creation of a European super-state.  German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said of yesterday it was the “blueprint” for just such a vision. 
The simple truth is that the EU is now the Eurozone and the Eurozone is now the EU.  Those at the heart of the Brussels machine who saw the crisis they created as an historic opportunity to drive decisively towards political union have won.  The ‘outs’ now face a choice between; subjugation, integration or in time expulsion. 
Make no mistake; yesterday was the parting of the ways.  It is a sad day for Europe.
Julian Lindley-French

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