Saturday, December 10, 2011

EU + or - UK?

If the media reports are to be taken at face value, the EU summit that ended on 9th December 2011, displayed some of the less attractive characteristics of  group behaviour of  schoolchildren. School boys (and I assume girls too) tend to coalesce into groups or gangs. Some who are not good at  participation in the ethos of such groups  become reluctant if not miserable members or become fall guys/gals on the outside.

The  post Cameron  veto  scene depicted on the BBC news last night  of President Sarkozy's deft body swerving to avoid greeting Prime Minister Cameron, is reminiscent of silly school boy behaviour and  seems so un-statesman like. Cameron at least manged to give Sarkozy what appeared to be a friendly pat on the back as the latter slipped by.That is  only a small detail and one which may owe more to weariness and the lateness of the hour than to serious lapse in good manners but  such  does  not augur well for  real statesmanship applying further down the line of  the Euro Zone's major  crises.

As mentioned in earlier blog posts, saving the Euro requires huge amounts of cash and the only European  country with sufficient finance to be able to pay is Germany so little wonder that the other nations accepted the German conditions. I sympathise with Chancellor Merkel and more especially with her tax payers but unless they are prepared to pay to support and subsidise  the European countries which are fast running out of cash in the same ways as do the American federal authorities  for the more financially strapped states of the USA, the Euro will fail. The German domestic financial way is brilliant - for Germany - but  will that way work for the 26 and will imposing that way  on the 26 save the Euro? I doubt it.

 Prime minister Cameron is the fall guy of the EU for now. In the same way as in school days the  minority fall guy tended to become the focus of attention when the majority's actions were really going nowhere so   internecine quarreling among the 26 will in due course cause attention to focus on the real issue which is not the UK's stance  but whether  German generosity and magnanimity  will extend far enough to save the Euro  despite the understandable concerns of that country's taxpayers.

An afterthought on the above arising from a comment made by maytrees mi, is that on looking at the tensions about who governs whom that persist within the small countries that  constitute the UK, the tensions likely to arise among the 26 or 27 for that matter if the UK does not exit the EU, are bound to be similar only more so.

 The USA was founded when Indians apart (theirs is another story) most people there had not long before, uprooted from their  many different ancestral countries so were comparatively recent immigrants. For them all therefore there was a common purpose in making the New World work so their creation of the USA  was a logical and positive development.

However  each European country has very different  traditions ethos and ways of life developed over way back when. England Scotland Ireland and Wales seem collectively like  a  microcosm of the European patchwork of nations  although  those 4 countries have more in common with each other than do many of the 26. If the 4 countries of the British Isles find  maintaining some common governance so difficult despite or maybe because of, their history, then the prospects for the 26 doing rather better which I assume is what the President Sarkozy  and Chancellor Merkel European  project is all about, are grim indeed.


  1. The Germans also had problems with their Catholic parts (about 20% of Bavaria wants independence) but they never did anything in Bavaria anywhere near what we did to the Irish (Great Famine) or Highland clearances.

    We mucked up our own union too - You can't blame the French or Germans for the starving masses in 19th century Dublin. In fact the reverse was true - Anglo-German HANDEL raised lots of money for the poor in Ireland via "pop" concerts.

  2. Greetings John
    TX for yr post.

    Most nations' leaders in their own ways have over the years left marks on the world and their countries - the Germans and the Irish not excluded. The Irish sovereign state's open ended guarantees given to their domestic banks such as the obviously reckless Anglo Irish Bank, might be a more subtle form of subjugation than that applied historically but the consequential tax yoke is akin to subjugation that will have to be borne by their tax paying and other Irish citizens for years to come. Most other nations tended to put caps on their guarantees to banks or better still print money and nationalise them.

  3. We joined the EU because we mucked up out own country. We were bust, and only the IMF bail out saved the day.

    Thatcher wasted all the oil money leaving us nothing to show for it (our industry was destroyed and the money was not used to build it up again - it was wasted).

    The UK has only caught up with other EU states SINCE WE JOINED THE EU. This is FACT....

    Stick with the FACTS.... the EU has demonstrably made the UK better off.

    Your reply would be that the UK did better than the EU post Maastricht (signed by John Major, it lead to the EURO)....

    So what, this is further evidence that economic convergence was particularly good for the UK.

  4. Greetings again John

    Unusual to have a rant comment but not unwelcome for all that.

    But most of the rant is about old hat matters. EG oil which anyway the EU says is an EU rather than UK resource. What about looking at today's situation rather than a somewhat distorted history lesson?

    A key to some of your points is that of definition. EG what do you mean by the UK "doing better" or even "well"?

    Do you take any moral compass into consideration such as the effects of EU rich man's club rules on say poorer nations or heaven forbid, on global warming or fish stocks?

    Even if your "better off" point is true at what cost to morality or happiness? Analysing some UK social trends since joining the EU does not make for cheering reading:

    Divorce up, abortion up, alcoholic drinking up, people in the church pews down; UK trade gap up, UK net financial contributions to the EU hugely up (is not the UK the 2nd largest net financial contributor?). The Euro is down soon to be out - maybe.

    Youth unemployment up as is the cost of university education. UK social security payments to non UK EU citizens are hugely up - that may not be a bad thing but there is a cost. Divide between rich and poor in the UK up as of course is the cost of housing. Some of these may not be caused by the EU but as many EU rules are geared to enriching the club members the tone set by the EU's ethos of continental self enrichment, is bound to filter down to the individual EU citizen - not a social engineering that I find very attractive.

    African farmers hurt by EU CAP up and hardly being tackled. British Common Law "innocent until proven guilty tradition" KO'd down by EU inspired employment laws - presuming guilt so requiring innocence to be proved.

    What is the EU doing about about Afganistan Zimbabwe etc - where at least the UK is trying? The UK despite our own debt problems is struggling to maintain if not increase its foreign aid what leadership in that area has the EU set? None that I can discern.

    Looking at economic convergence as a main criterion of well being risks viewing society and its problems with tunnel like vision (all respectfully imho of course).

    If the French and German leaders had had a little more magnanimity and understanding of the need respect local political practicalities there could have been accord between the 27 on Friday. After all the fact that the German Chancellor would have had major domestic political difficulties if the need for the Germans to dig deeper int their collective purse had been more apparent. That was reflected in Friday's outcome though without such deeper digging by the Germans the Euro is doomed to fail anyway. An EU more sensitive to the UK domestic political scene would have provided assistance to the British Prime Minister. They did not so the rest now reflecting my opening remarks "is history."


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