Christmas is a time we wish for things. Sometimes, as many a ‘Dear Santa’ letter will testify, these wishes can seem, at least at first, a little outlandish, maybe even utopian. So in good seasonal tradition, here is mine: my wish is for a speedy decision to dissolve the Euro, and for this to happen as part of a political, democratically infused campaign for a stronger, united Europe.
First, a small piece of good news – and to be blunt there’s not a lot of it around when it comes to the Euro, not least as the risk is ratcheting up, on a daily basis it seems, of a re-freezing of the credit markets with bank collapses and an even deeper economic contraction in Europe than is already on the cards. The small positive development I’m referring to was the break-up between David Cameron and the other European leaders recently, because it made the realisation of my wish a tiny bit easier. Whatever his motives, and although probably by mishap rather than intention, Cameron’s veto made a little crack in the whole no-politics, anti-politics regime which so far has dominated the life of the Euro, and especially has characterised the technocratic machinations of trying to save the Euro over the past two years.
These days, bringing politics of any form to bear in the councils of Europe is a good thing in itself. And that’s what we saw at the recent summit: a split, accidental as it most likely was, between an expression of political interest – personified by Cameron’s veto – versus that endemic tradition of bureaucratic Brussels stitch-ups, isolated from people and closed away from accountability, and obsessed instead with technical process and procedures. This aloof approach was epitomised in the summit’s main but so-narrow outcome: an attempt to strengthen the fiscal rules surrounding the existing Stability and Growth Pact.
In any such counterposition between politics and technocratic process, we should always side with national politics, whatever the complexion of the politics, because it at least has the virtue of bringing discussion back closer to people. It makes political debate around alternative approaches a little more open. So, ‘more public politics, no more bureaucratic stitch-ups’ is the parallel wish I’ve added to my Dear Santa letter.
To get back to my initial wish: for an end to the Euro. Of course, to question the survival of the Euro has become a taboo subject, not only in Europe but across the Western world. President Barack Obama, for example, is constantly claiming to the American public that the biggest danger to the American economy is ‘headwinds’ from Europe and the risk of the Euro failing. At least until Cameron’s treaty veto, no Western leader, including, I would stress, Cameron himself, had appeared to countenance that anything should take precedence over ‘Saving the Euro’.
The mainstream position makes it clear that we’re in TINA-land again: ‘There Is No Alternative’ to saving the Euro, everyone says. I want to argue the opposite: that the Euro should not be saved, not because it has recently become no longer worth saving, but because in its specific institutional form this common currency should never have been established in the first place. Read More