The EU is the only ‘spring’ Europe has had in its entire history

A tweet that arrived yesterday is well worth sharing – a short speech by a Spanish MEP on what, he considers, the EU is:

Polly Polak works at Salamanca University and I rather agree with her sentiment.

The only thing not mentioned in the speech is Greek debt and that is clearly an elephant in the room. But in any alliance there will have to be compromises and there is more likelihood of influencing the Euro members when you are a member of the club that spawned the Euro rather than stomping off in disgust.

Brexit is undoubtedly a selfishly motivated move, yet if Britain does leave eventually, geography, at the very least, dictates that in the end it will have to come home.

Comments

  1. Ian Stevenson -

    I think the people of Greece have been treated very badly but how far is the ‘EU” to blame? The Greeks ran a deficit and as part of the euro had to cut spending to match revenue which drove down the revenue. A familiar story. The euro system was designed by bankers led by the ideas of Canadian supply side economist Robert Mundell. The program forced on Greece was not overseen by most EU nations or the Parliament but bu the troika of the Commission, European Central Bank and IMF dominated by the Washington Consensus. The French and German banks were backed by their govts. and the others went along to save the euro. It would seem to me the culprit is not the EU and what it stands for but the international banking system and its influence.

    1. Peter May -

      You make a very good point. (I regret I’d never heard of Mundell -still alive I see and I doubt he’d approve of how it is actually operates in practice?.) According to Yanis Varousakis’ ‘Adults in the Room’ Greek debt was a largely German government stitch-up, even when the IMF showed a bit more understanding. It is really in the end because the ECB is the bundesbank writ large, which only France is big enough to change and so far Macron has been entirely unsuccessful. But I think you are fair to point out that the EU is blamed for something mostly out of its direct control. Thanks

  2. bjsalba -

    I strongly agree with what Ian Stevenson says. The cause of the Greek crisis was the Greek Government actions and Goldman Sachs who encouraged them to do so. If you check out what Yanis Varoufakis said he made it clear that the group which worked on the bail-out was NOT an official EU body, and if it had been Greece would have had the right to refuse the settlement that was forced on them.

    Maybe the EU could have done more if it had not all been happening in the heat of a crisis, but then hindsight is always 20-20 isn’t it?

    1. Peter May -

      Replied to Ian Stevenson before I saw yours! Thanks, a good point.

  3. Samuel Johnson -

    I chair a residents’ association in London. 70% of the flats are owned by offshore investors (this is typical of premium multi-occupancy buildings in the city; see http://www.private-eye.co.uk/registry). In our case, several are owned Greek middle class professionals who for some reason transferred ownership to companies in the British Virgin Islands. In one case to a company whose name celebrates a mystery disappearing ship.

    Greek debt could be significantly addressed by repatriation or taxation of ownership of offshore assets. UK complicity would have to end first.

    1. Peter May -

      All in favour of repatriation of a tax liability but I fear that would not make much difference – the overwhelming majority of Greek debt is owed to French and German banks, where Greek debt has been used by the ECB as the means to guarantee these private banks’ loans. This injustice will only encourage the use of tax havens by those ordinarily liable in Greece….

  4. Donald Liverpool -

    Esteban Pons is either ignorant or evil. He does not mention the number one item in the EU budget, who it benefits, and who are the main beneficiaries of the Customs Union.
    He might as well praise Hitler because he built infrastructure, socialised the economy, improved living standards and gave full employment. If you overlook the number one thing, then you’re analysis should be chucked in the bin, along with your pension. Imv, of course.

  5. Robin Stafford -

    A fine speech – Napoleon described the English as a nation of shopkeepers and too often that is the only light in which the EC is seen.

    Over the last few years I’ve spent more time in and learnt much more about Eastern Europe, and realised how little we learn about those countries and their history. For the UK they were just a buffer zone on the other side of the Iron Curtain. We know little of the destruction wrought on them by Russia in particular and Germany at other times. How their societies, economies and institutions were systematically destroyed during the Soviet era. Not to mention the mass executions and deportations.

    The value of the EC to them is far more than just funding. It has been about belonging to a group of nations whose values and institutions have supported those countries in rebuilding themselves, and a form of shield from their Eastern neighbour. Of course it’s a mixed picture. The damage wrought over decades if not centuries takes a long time to repair. The politics of Poland and Hungary are particularly dubious at the moment. But on balance they have been transformed for the better for their populations. That is the wider dimension of the EC which the Brexiters, left and right, choose to ignore.

    As for Greece, as pointed out, it’s a more nuanced picture than a Varoufakis and others describe, much as I appreciate his writing and insights. Corruption, Goldman Sachs role in their joining the Euro, government mis-management, endemic tax avoidance have all contributed to their problems which can’t all be blamed on the Euro. No more than suggesting that all the UKs problems can be blamed on the EC.

    Unless you are ideologically so inclined…

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