Monday, 22 June 2015

Greece And The Euro: A Matter Of Politics Not Economics

"The process of monetary union goes hand in hand, must go hand in hand, with political integration and ultimately political union. EMU [economic and monetary union] is, and always was meant to be, a stepping stone on the way to a united Europe"
(Wim Duisenberg, first president of the EU Central Bank) 

"The single currency is the greatest abandonment of sovereignty since the foundation of the European Community: the decision is of an essentially political nature"
(Felipe Gonzalez, a Spanish former PM, 1998)

"Europe will be forged in crises, and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises."  
(EU founding father Jean Monnet)

As the eurozone goes through one of its periodic 'difficulties' there's much fuss being made about a possible Greek exit, or Grexit. Today "Greece faces a critical 24 hours as European leaders hold an emergency summit in Brussels that could break the deadlock around the country's debt crisis".

We have of course been here many times before and naturally such speculation results in a media plethora of economic analysis, graphs and statistics and goodness what else.

There's often incredulous analysis on why Greece hasn't yet left Euro and go it alone and why it should; the economic case is one which is largely obvious.

Yet to make such an economic case is to miss the point entirely. What is so often overlooked is that the euro, and indeed the EU, is a political project not an economic one. And as the quotes above make clear the EU, and its member states, make no secret of this. But despite proclaiming its political intentions so publicly it is a damming indictment that we can no longer rely on the UK media to even acknowledge this simple fact, which perhaps reflects the prevailing UK view in general.

But it's in this political context we must see the Greek crisis. The euro has always been a political project to achieve its "ever closer union" as per the opening sentences in the Treaty of Rome 1957. "Ever closer union" is the utter founding principles of the EU; they meant it then, they mean it now.

To achieve full political union requires salami tactics or the Monnet method. Normally with a currency union we should start off with political union first and then economics. However due to the difficulties of achieving the political union part first the EU quite deliberately put the cart before the horse. By doing so they ensured the euro was a flawed project from the outset.

By making it flawed meant it was inevitable that it would encounter a series of crisis. Each crisis needs a solution and that solution, if we may call it that, invariably would be a call for 'more europe'. More Europe, more power, more integration. Thus step by step a series of euro problems allows the march towards further integration to continue unabated.

What could not be achieved explicitly by the front door would be achieved less obviously via the back door on the back of an economic Trojan horse - of ultimately economic misery. The euro is the extension of engrenage or 'the Monnet method' writ large:
The Schuman Declaration was presented by Schuman on 9 May 1950 (9 May was later to become Europe Day). Monnet and Schuman believed that it was through economic integration that political integration would eventually be achieved, via a process called spillover. Monnet and Schuman were thus the first functionalist theorists of Europe. Indeed, this process of integration is often termed the 'Monnet method'.
Yet much of this obvious point seems so beyond our own media who seem to be willing the Greece to exit to reinforce their misplaced, wrong and self-important analysis that the EU is all about economics rather than deal with the real issues as they are.

Thus despite all the brinkmanship and threats of Grexit, ultimately someone will put up some money, more than likely Germany, to paper over the cracks and the eurozone crisis will be left on hold until a new treaty comes along. Bailouts are de facto fiscal transfers - essential for an economic union to succeed. All that is needed is to make them official via a new treaty.

It's with some irony that the UK is aggravating the Greek crisis by having a referendum in 2017. By doing so it is holding up the new treaty to try to resolve the euro crisis; the Fundamental Law of the European Union which now has to wait until the "English question" is settled.

Despite the dreadful economic statistics Greece will stay in, politics and EU integration ambitions ensures that it must.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Parish Notice

Apologies to regular readers for the lack of new posts recently. It's no reflection on the lack of activities regarding a referendum. Plans are afoot on a personal level to make this blog a full time operation.

Normal service will resume shortly.