The end of the eurozone - as we know it
That was the bold declaration of Spanish finance minister Pedro Solbes on 15th December 1995, the day the euro was conceived. After a difficult period of gestation, it was born virtually at midnight on 1st January 1999, and notes and coins began to circulate in 2002.
Unfortunately, it has not quite proved a rock of the calibre of the Apostle Peter.
The eurosceptics are in delirious back-patting mood. They are showing themselves to be smug and self-righteous, manifesting a quite distasteful ‘I-told-you-so’ proclivity which is not merely ill-mannered, but both insensitive and inelegant.
And His Grace would like to join in.
Many of us predicted it, but still the europhiliacs persisted. Some of us long ago prophesied doom, but we were despised by the cognoscenti and rejected by the intelligentsia.
How can prime ministers and presidents of countries like Greece and Ireland dare to hold their heads high or look their electorates in the eye?
What brazen impudence and bare-faced gall do they possess that persuades them still that they are right and we are wrong?
How long do they think the serfs will put up with paying for the economic incompetence and political ineptitude of their remote and indifferent lords and masters?
It beggars belief, even as the EU faces financial Armageddon, that politicians like Ken Clarke can sit on a Question Time panel and pontificate infallibly that the euro is not to blame for the present morass into which Europe is sinking. “This crisis is not caused by the euro,” he proclaimed ex cathedra.
You don’t need an A-level in Government & Politics to understand that the single currency was always destined to founder without political union. Remove from a nation the right to set its own interest rates to suit its own domestic economy, and in times of turmoil it is left either to tinker with taxation or slash spending.
But what it needs to do it cannot do: control its own interest rates. There is no mechanism for anaesthetising the patient to ease the economic pain, and so the agony diffuses throughout the whole body; crippling, disabling and stifling the life out of even the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Since the people are not particularly disposed either to high rates of taxation or to cuts in their public services, disquiet turns into protests; protests become marches; marches become riots; riots become social turmoil.
And social turmoil slips into civil war.
Have they learned nothing from the break-up of the former USSR, Quebec’s bid for independence from the Canadian federation, the former Yugoslavia’s descent into tribal warfare, the splitting asunder of Czechoslovakia, and even the fracturing of the United Kingdom? The evidence is overwhelming that states established by treaties, imposed upon diverse peoples with political rivalries and religious factions, are fragile entities.
Those countries that joined the euro castrated themselves economically, abdicated political responsibility, sold their souls to Mammon and their birthrights for a mess of pottage.
And for what?
Economic boasting? Political flattery? The kudos of joining the élite philosopher-bankers? Sitting on the top table? Strutting on the world stage?
Or perhaps the motive, as the US State Department might put it, was simply ‘to attain prominence in Europe’.
Well, it was all a charade; a calculated con and a very deliberate delusion.
And now that we are in a time of austerity, depression, bankruptcy and bailouts, the weakest nations have been placed immediately into intensive care, where their vital signs are being monitored minute by minute.
But it is too late.
The contagion has already spread.
Prodigal Greece and profligate Ireland will be followed by Portugal, Spain and Italy, and probably also by Cyprus or Belgium.
Never forget that the answer to the EU’s problems is invariably ‘more Europe’: every crisis is an opportunity for more regulation and centralisation. And the sovereign debt crisis that threatens to engulf European financial markets is no exception.
And so the 16-strong eurozone shall become a 10-nation confederacy, stabilised economically by Bundesbank discipline and bound politically by Teutonic politico-militarism.
The German constitutional court would have it no other way.
And Has His Grace prophesied many months ago, the ‘new’ euro of the EU ‘inner core’ shall be called the Euromark.
The successor of the Goldmark of 1873, the Reichsmark of 1924 and the Deutschmark of 1948.
And after a few years, the ‘euro’ prefix will be quietly dropped, exactly as the EEC became the EC became the EU.
Stealthily, covertly, by scheming and subterfuge: like a thief in the night, with hardly a soul noticing.
And before we know where we are, the official currency of the 10-nation United States of Europe will be the Mark.
And the European Project shall be complete – the Sacrum Romanum Imperium Nationis Germanicae.
All it will lack is a leader, an emperor, a religio-political philosopher-king of sufficient stature to strut after the fashion of Napoleon, to hold the allegiance of the people führer-like, and to lift them out of the economic morass in which they have sunk.
As Former Belgian Prime Minister Paul-Henri Spaak said: “Send us such a man and, be he god or the devil, we will receive him.”
We must thank God that the United Kingdom is not a prisoner of European Monetary Union.
Oh, and the smug eurosceptics.
God bless us one and all.