Tackling the EU/Eurozone’s Assault on National Democracy

Where we are on the 40th anniversary of joining the EEC

The Political Basis of the EU:

All States and aspiring States have their myths of origin. The myth of origin of the EU is that it is a peace project to prevent wars between Germany and France – as if a tendency to go to war is somehow genetically inherited.

The actual facts are however that the first step towards supranational economic integration, the European Coal and Steel Community of 1951, was to facilitate German rearmament at the start of the Cold War with Russia and to reconcile France to that fact. The US wanted a rearmed West Germany inside NATO. This greatly alarmed France which had been occupied by Germany just a few years before.

Jean Monnet, who was America’s man in the affair, came up with the solution. To assuage France’s fears he drafted the Schuman Declaration proposing to put the coal and steel industries of France, Germany and Benelux under a supranational High Authority as “the first step in the federation of Europe”. A federation is a State, so the political aim of establishing a State or quasi-superstate under Franco-German hegemony has been there from the start. The EU celebrates 9 May, the date of this Declaration, as “Europe Day” each year. Monnet became secretary of the supranational High Authority, the predecessor of today’s Brussels Commission.

Thus historically the EU is in its origin an out-of-date legacy of the Cold War, pushed by the USA in the 1950s to provide an economic underpinning to NATO in Europe.

Simultaneously “Europeanism” became the creed of a legion of intellectuals across the continent, disillusioned by the failed ideologies of the 20th century. They provided ideological arguments in support of their assault on all things national. Their central assertion was that conflict between Europe’s States could be prevented by putting their national democracies under the control of a supranational high authority of non-elected technocrats – namely themselves or people like themselves – while trying to merge their peoples in a kind of jellybowl of nations.

They developed the doctrine that by “pooling” sovereignty small States increase their influence over bigger ones, whereas in practical reality it is the other way round. Classically, the concept of sovereignty means that a State is the sole author of the laws prevailing in its territory. For EU members however most laws now come from Brussels. Talk of pooling sovereignty is like referring to a woman as being half-pregnant. Sovereignty “pooled” is sovereignty surrendered.

Forty years after the 1951 Coal and Steel Community, and the 1957 Treaty of Rome setting up the European Economic Community(EEC) which followed, another shift in Franco-German power, Germany’s reunification as a side-effect of the collapse of the USSR in 1991, led these two countries to establish the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and its single currency, the euro.

The big increase in Germany’s population and territory on reunification greatly alarmed France. However France had nuclear weapons, which Germany was precluded from having under the post-War treaties. The deal between the two of them was EU Monetary Union for Political Union or, put crudely, the Deutschemark for the Euro-bomb. Germany would give up its national currency, the symbol of its post-war economic achievement, and share the running of a new supranational EU currency with France, while France agreed to work jointly with Germany towards a supranational EU political union with its own common foreign, security and defence policy.

This would give Germany a central role in running a potential EU world power, with its finger on a nuclear trigger in due time. France in turn hoped the euro would give it a political lock on Germany. “The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency and we have changed that,” exulted EU Commission President Romano Prodi. A Franco-German army brigade with joint officers and a joint command was simultaneously set up as a symbol and prototype of the EU army of the future. Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain have since joined this as contributors to a common “Eurocorps”.

France and Germany are said to share a common interest in being joint engines of the EU integration project. The conventional wisdom has been that if they stay together they can push through the Brussels institutions whatever policy suits their interests, while between them they are strong enough to prevent any other group of EU States from adopting policies they do not like. The reality is somewhat different however, as Germany was always going to be the big winner in moves towards an EU monetary and political union.

The Intoxication of Big Powerdom: Tuilleadh

The Consequences of Monetary Union (1972)

The financier and businessman Emmett O’Connell, formerly of Aminex and Eglinton Oil and still successfully engaged in the international mining business, has long held the view that abolishing the Irish pound and joining the eurozone was the biggest policy error ever made by the Irish State. The Greek crisis and its drastic implications for the euro-currency, interwoven as it is with the crisis of the Irish public deficit and banks, seems to be confirming this daily before our eyes.

Linked below for your information is a facsimile of a pamphlet☚ which Emmett O’Connell wrote in 1972. It sets out why joining a European currency union would not be in Ireland’s best interests.

[Also linked below: a Podcast audio extract☚ of an interview with Mr. O'Connell by George Hook on this subject, on NewsTalk106fm, Monday 10th of May]

This was one of a number of pamphlets published at the time by the Common Market Study Group, of which the undersigned, the late Raymond Crotty and Mr Micheal O Loingsigh of Tralee were key members. The Common Market Study Group was the principal centre of intellectual criticism of Irish membership of the EEC in the Accession Referendum of May 1972. Central to such criticism was the belief that what was then called the Common Market was intended to lead on to a European Monetary and Political Union under the political hegemony of what Dr Garret FitzGerald recently termed “The Big Three” EU Member States – Germany, France and Britain – as has broadly been happening since.

Emmett O’Connell repeated his criticisms of EMU at the time of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty which led to the establishment of the euro and he has written occasional press articles on this and related economic topics over the years. The core of his argument is the section of his pamphlet setting out “The case for Sovereign Money” on pages 12-14, as well as pages 22-26. The validity of what he wrote then, he believes, is confirmed by the current crisis of the eurozone and the fact that Ireland is unable to restore its lost economic competitiveness because of the abolition of the Irish pound and with it our ability to have any control over either the currency exchange rate or interest rates with a view to maximising Irish development and employment.

Daily Telegraph: Will Germany deliver on the Faustian bargain that created monetary union?

DAILY TELEGRAPH
Monday 23.2.08

If Der Spiegel is correct, the German finance ministry is drafting rescue plans to prevent default on the edges of the eurozone leading to a full-blown collapse of Europe’s monetary system.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

This is an entirely appropriate policy in economic terms. One dreads to think what would happen if the world’s twin reserve currency were to disintegrate at this stage.

But what about the solemn pledge to voters by Germany’s political elites – promiscuously given over the years – that monetary union would never leave them on the hook for the debts of half Europe?

The vast imbalances that have been allowed to build up under the seductive protection of EMU leave German taxpayers facing bail-out liabilities that exceed the cost of reparations after the First World War in proportional terms.

The political ground has not been prepared for this. EMU was foisted on the German people without a referendum, in the face of deep public scepticism and scathing criticisms by the professoriat. This failure to secure a mandate for such a revolutionary undertaking is coming back to haunt them.

Berlin is at last having to deliver on the Faustian bargain made by Germany’s political class when it swapped the D-Mark for French acquiescence in reunification. It must either go the whole way towards EMU fiscal union and take responsibility for Italy’s public debt (111pc of GDP by next year), Austria’s loans to Eastern Europe (70pc of GDP), the adventures of Ireland’s ‘Canary Dwarf’ (€400bn or so in liabilities), and Spain’s housing collapse (1m unsold homes), or jeopardize its half-century investment in the political order of post-war Europe. Letting EMU fail at this stage would have far higher costs than never having launched the project in the first place.

The alleged bail-out options include “bilateral bonds” where big brother countries agree to shoulder the credit risk for siblings, (who vouches for Italy and Spain?), or some form of EU bond.

[...]

For now, the bail-out talk has cowed speculators. The euro has rallied after weeks of sharp descent against the dollar. Credit default swaps (CDS) on Irish debt have fallen back below the red alert level of 400 basis points. But it has not been lost on the markets that Germany’s own CDS spreads have risen to a record 86. Are traders starting to ask whether Berlin is in a fit state to rescue anybody?

The German economy contracted at an 8.4pc annual rate in the fourth quarter as exports to Eastern Europe, Club Med, and the Anglo-sphere collapsed.

[...]

Last week chief economist Jurgen Stark attempted to head off the bail-out plans, reminding Berlin last week that rescues are prohibited by EU law. This is not strictly true – Article 100.2 allows aid in “exceptional circumstances” – but it gives powerful cover to anybody wishing to oppose the Steinbruck policy.

But whatever the legal theory, the political reality is that 700,000 Germans are going to lose their jobs this year as unemployment rises to 4.3m (IFO Institute). Voters are not going to look kindly on any party seen to divert German savings to Ireland or Club Med.

Architects of EMU were well aware that a one-size-fits-all monetary policy for vastly disparate nations would create serious tensions over time. They gambled that this would work to their advantage. The EU would be forced to create new machinery to safeguard its investment in the euro. It would be a “beneficial crisis”, bringing about the great leap forward to full union.

We are about to find out if they were right.

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