Euro: the End-Game?

 The situation with regard to the euro is becoming ever more surreal.  The Portuguese Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira has said that “Contagion is spreading” and that “The whole eurozone is at risk”.  No less an authority than German Chancellor Angela Merkel (remember Germany’s almost religious zeal for European union?) has said: “If the euro fails, then Europe will fail”, and goes on to regret the possible demise of European values (though why these should depend on the currency, or on the EU, is not clear).
 
Yet I am told that the European President Rumpy Pumpy, that distinguished Belgian, while admitting that we face a crisis, nevertheless reassures all those around him that the EU has a plan, and that all will be well.  And against this background, Estonia, a small Baltic state where I did a certain amount of work around the time of their EU accession referendum, is being dragged screaming into the eurozone against its will.  As usual, the leadership of the country wants to parade its euro-credentials, while two thirds of the voters wisely oppose euro membership.
 
It is bizarre that while we watch the currency’s slow-motion train crash, there are actually countries proposing to join.  The improbable image of rats boarding a sinking ship comes to mind, though the rats in this case are the politicians, not the populace (great folk, the Estonians).
 
Meantime wise voices like that of Jeremy Warner, the Telegraph’s economic commentator, rightly warns against schadenfreude (while avoiding the German word).  While celebrating the fact that we never joined the euro, he points out that the EU is our largest trading partner, and that the bloc’s probable melt-down will do the British economy, and our recovery hopes, and our deficit reduction plan, no good at all.  Of course he’s right.
 
And yet, and yet…   The demise of the euro, and therefore of the EU as we know it, will of course be a huge vindication of all I have believed and worked for for the last dozen years.  And there might be a longer-term silver lining.  If the collapse of the EU finally forces Britain, after forty years of introspective involvement in Europe, to focus our attention on the wider world — on China, India, the USA, the Commonwealth — then we may at last have a chance to re-establish our status as a great trading nation, and share in some part of the future growth of the non-European world.
 
The future beckons.  Europe is the past.  There’s a whole new world out there.

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3 Responses to Euro: the End-Game?

  1. chris emmett says:

    It is worrying that the very stability which the EU project promised could be threatened now. (As far as I can tell that was all it promised)Perhaps politicians of all parties will now pay more attention to the will of the people,and leave us to get them out of the mess they have helped create.

  2. Peter Hulme Cross says:

    You may be a little ahead of yourself there Roger, the collapse hasn’t happened yet, although it will, eventually. When it does, you are right, we must wake up to the wider world as we should have done all along. But we will need a different leader. Cameron and Clegg won’t be up to it.

  3. Well said Roger. I would say that the recent EU summit will go down in history as the turning point in the euro’s final demise, that the fatal wound to the EU’s flagship ‘one-size-fits-none’ project will be seen as having been self-inflicted, and that Angela Merkel specifically will get the blame for statements that spooked bond investors.

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