Saturday, December 29, 2012

Delors Invites Brits to Leave the EU

"Europe--love it or leave it" is the advice of Jacques Delors, one of Europe's Founding Fathers, to the UK. Delors, who seems always to have known that the euro project was doomed without tighter European integration, has come to see the UK as the primary obstacle to such integration and therefore to the survival of his life's work. But it's a dangerous strategy to suggest that any member state, let alone one as important as the UK, choose a strategy of exit as opposed to voice or loyalty (to invoke the memory of the late Albert Hirschman). Delors's spleen is showing, but so is his age. The younger Delors would have put up a fight, I think, rather than thrown in the towel, no matter how exasperating Albion's latest provocations.


Carol Dent said...

Well, it's a bit late now, after all these years. I think this is just a distraction tactic: when all else fails, find someone to blame.

FrédéricLN said...

Out of topic: best wishes for this new year to the French politics blog, to his author, readers and commentators!

Play angry Birds said...

Very informative Article..Thanks for sharing...

Mitch Guthman said...

I too would like to offer my best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Mitch Guthman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitch Guthman said...

I would add, however, that Delors makes some valid points, particularly about la perfide Albion. The only contribution the Brits have made to the European debate during the whole of the latest Thatcherite revival has been to demand special privileges for the miscreants in the City of London whose evildoing bankrupted England (if anyone’s keeping score, nearly all the debt the Conservatives are continually moaning about was taken on by the previous Labour government to keep the banks and bankers afloat).

It does seem the British aren’t making much of a contribution to Europe at the moment and they don’t seem likely to be able to do so in the future. The Conservatives apparently haven’t finished trashing the economy so trade with England isn’t likely to recover anytime soon and maybe never. Likewise, the Conservatives’s special pleading has prevented Europe from making desperately needed reforms to its financial sector. I’m not sure it would be such a tremendous loss if Cameron took the UK out of Europe.

Mitch Guthman said...

It’s difficult not to have sympathy for a man in the Autumn of his life who is looking at his great project collapsing around him like a poorly made soufflé. You can almost feel the pain and anger in his words. On the other hand, it was his poorly thought out recipe and airy-fairy way of doing things that are largely responsible for the collapsed and inedible soufflé.

I think a part of Jacques Delors understands but simply cannot accept that most of the problems confronting the EU today are down to him and his branch of Europe’s Founding Fathers. The EU was hastily thrown together by a bunch of elites on the assumption that the future would be easily sorted out because the elites would just sit down together (possibility over champagne and caviar at Davos) and work things out.

The deliberate absence democratic control of the institutions, the nonsensical European “parliament” and the insaneness of the euro project had the entirely predictable consequences of economic disaster and a growing crisis of legitimacy. Yet every critique was airily dismissed by Delors and his bande of big thinkers with little more than a casual wave of the hand, followed by an invocation of the latest buzzword. A reliance on buzzwords replaced the hard work of forming a cohesive vision for the future of Europe and persuading the people to accept it. If the people of a particular country (Ireland, France) didn’t like something, say, the proposed constitution, the might of the EU would be mobilized to punish them until they accepted the wisdom of their betters.

Now we are told that Europe must have the euro and can’t have really afford democracy. The folly of the euro is compounded by the folly of pointless expansion. Countries that should never have been admitted to the union were admitted on hollow promises but it is the people and not the elites who pay the price of those mistakes.

The eastern expansion has been an economic and political disaster. The EU has poured treasure almost without limit into those countries and received nothing in return except, again, hollow promises of reform. They are not democratic states and do not have the rule of law. They have none of the shared history and values of the core countries of Western Europe and the North and wanted to join the EU only because the technocrats were shoveling euros at them with both hands. What is the benefit of expansion and the euro to the people or the economies of the Common Market nations? There has been none and there will be none.

If there a vote were held today, I believe that most of the original countries of the old Common Market would vote to leave the EU and return to that superior framework. Delors criticism of the UK seems particularly strange given that most of the people there would be very happy to leave the EU without being prompted and consider that Gordon Brown’s greatest achievement was keeping England out of the euro.

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Mitch Guthman said...

Extremely off topic but some very good news for the new year. Charles Bremner's blog is no longer behind the Times pay-wall. People who either don't want to pay or (like me) wouldn't pay because Rupert Murdoch is destroying America can now visit his blog for free. Oh happy day!

Cincinna said...

My best wishes to Art, and you all for a New Year filled with Hope, Joy, Peace, Love, and good health.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Art, wish special wishes for your good health.

Regarding the post: it's not so much the UK - Scotland wants to leave the UK and join the EU as an independent country, a move that would be greatly accelerated if Cameron got his way.
The referendum idea is clever, though, since it wouldn't take place till AFTER the general elections! Right now it's supposed to act as a galvanizer for conservatives and be a threat for European governments. Personally I'm not sure it'd be such a terrible idea. Even though the UK is important to the EU idea, the EU idea has become so diluted that it needs change to be defined. Cameron pulling the UK from the EU (and Scotland rejoining afterwards - that referendum is likely to be the last straw for Scotland) would create openings for reshaping Europe.

bert said...

There are a lot of different reasons for British euroscepticism. A lot of it, let's be honest, is straightforward nationalist xenophobia of the sort pandered to in France by the FN.

There is however another strain that reacts with disgust at the persistent French tendency to pursue French national interest under the banner of Europe, underpinned by successive generations of German politicians who knew only that they wanted to pursue the European interest, and that this was by definition different from the German national interest. One of the fascinating things to watch over the last five years or so has been the reaction of the French - their dawning realisation - that it's a different Germany now, and France faces a much tougher road.

As for Scotland, polls show that a majority of Scots would now vote to leave the EU if asked. A terrible idea, if you ask me, but there it is: the euro crisis has torn the european soft power of attraction apart.

Delors, by the way, was a functionalist of the Monnet type. The incompleteness of the eurozone architecture necessitates further integration. Which means that the suffering of the euro crisis is not a bug but a feature. I've not bothered to read this latest attempt by Delors to shore up his reputation. I've already read several, and they all seem to boil down to blaming national politicians and the European Council.

If you want to sum the man up, duplicitous cunt captures it nicely.

Mitch Guthman said...

@ Myos,

I’m not sure that Scotland would vote to leave the UK. Setting the mechanics of how independence would be accomplished, the Scots get many ongoing benefits from England that would disappear with independence. There’s substantial persistent financial transfers from England to Scotland.

The benefits of that come when a country joins the EU seems to be largely transitory, as the Irish can attest. There’s some trickle-down but it’s just a pot of money that’s mostly consumed by the local elites and ultimately finds it way to bank accounts in places like Switzerland.

It’s also unclear whether Scotland still wants to join the EU, particularly if adoption of the euro is a part of the price of admission. Also, Germany’s politics are too conservative for Scottish tastes and austerity would be a nonstarter. A more closely “integrated” Europe organized along lines appealing to German voters would be unattractive to Scotland.

I think the Scots will also be worried about whether they will be able to survive future economic crises as well as they weathered the 2008 crash. Ironically, one of the main reasons for the UK’s massive debt was the necessity of bailing out Scotland's financial sector. The Royal Bank of Scotland cost the British taxpayers hundreds of billions of Pounds and it’s not clear that an independent Scotland could have pulled off the bailout without throwing its economy into a cataclysmic depression. And it’s quite clear that a European Union and ECB dominated by Germany won’t be bailing out anybody except German banks, ever. I doubt that a referendum calling for membership of an independent Scotland would pass and it’s very clear that worries about the EU are hurting the independence movement.

I find the timing of the independence referendum a bit odd. Politically, Scotland is a Labour stronghold and the social welfare state has a very strong grip. So the Conservatives would benefit greatly from Scottish independence. My Scottish friends who pay attention to such things are uniform in thinking that if the independence referendum fails, the Scottish National Party will probably collapse into the Labour party instead of being scattered among the minor parties. Sean Connery would remain in exile.

bert said...

Mitch, I think your reading of the situation in Scotland is a good one. I'd only add that the difficulties of negotiating an accession to the EU from scratch are starting to get some attention. Given that a deal would require unanimity in the Council, and that Scotland would serve as a model for others (Catalonia, Flanders, etc ...), there would be a strong incentive for existing member states to use their veto power to make Scottish membership conditions as unattractive as possible.