Cameron must confront the Euro-Beast
The Daily Mail has named the Euro-beast ‘Merkozy’ – a chimera of Germany and France. This is the essence of the spirit of Charlemagne.
Both Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy would like a new EU treaty, which must be agreed by all 27 member states. With or without a referendum (to which His Grace will return), this means that the UK will get a say in the negotiated outcome, and that say includes the power of veto.
The Prime Minister might have hoped that the Euro-17 would come to some informal arrangement among themselves for fiscal union, without anything as inconvenient as a whole new treaty. But Charlemagne-Merkozy requires something binding (Merk being more insistent than Ozy). A mere summit in Brussels cannot achieve that objective.
David Cameron is about to be confronted by ‘Europe’, and he needs to tread very carefully indeed: the omnipotent Euro-beast has been responsible for the downfall of more than a few of his predecessors, and is presently stamping upon the foreheads of the peoples of Europe the mark of austerity. Neither the Greeks nor Italians may buy or sell without his authorisation: along with Ireland, they have been sucked into the post-democratic era in which elections (when they happen) are nothing but a facade.
The problem is that the EU urgently needs treaty amendments to deal with a very present crisis (and crisis it is). But that requires an IGC (not simply some informal Franco-German summit, or even something informal for the euro-bloc or the entire EU membership). There are those who believe this represents an historic opportunity for the UK to effect the subsidiarity provisions of Maastricht and demand the repatriation of various competences now exercised at a supranational level under QMV.
And yet for HM Government to attempt to use this crisis to renegotiate its ‘relationship’ with the EU will appear petty and awfully small-minded. It’s a little like the merry band of musicians on the deck of Titanic walking up to Captain Smith as his ship was going down, to demand better working conditions. If he doesn’t agree, they’ll simply refuse to play. A crisis is a crisis: as the euro sinks, the Captain may well respond with a polite reminder that the icy waters will consume the musicians, too.
Let us be clear about this: the EU is at a crossroads. If the euro-bloc does not form a fiscal union, the euro will cease to be. A single currency requires not only a single bank, but a single government. One cannot render unto Caesar that which belongs to sundry ethnarcs without first ensuring the compliance of the vassal states. Caesar must be suzerain.
Which brings us to the thorny issue of a referendum.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that, despite his ‘Referendum Lock’, there will be no referendum because a new treaty for the eurozone involves no further transfer of sovereign powers from London to Brussels.
There are those who are of the opinion that this is ‘legally correct’: any new treaty would be a matter only for the euro-17. But this is disingenuous. A new treaty would effectively create a United States of Europe – an inner core (the euro-bloc) all subject to a single economic governance (=government), with the authority to tax and spend irrespective of the democratically-elected ethnarcs. At the moment, the UK is an equal participant in a one-size-fits-all union. A treaty heralding fiscal union for the few would fundamentally change that status: the UK is shunted to the outer tier; forced into the slow lane; expelled to the periphery; left behind; missing the boat, etc., etc. In short, the UK could no longer be ‘at the heart of Europe’, where successive governments have insisted we should be.
Many, of course, will rejoice at that: the notion that Britain needs to be ‘at the heart of Europe’ is historical nonsense. But no-one can pretend that a shift to a two-speed Europe does not represent a fundamental change in policy. The ‘heart of Europe’ is securely occupied by Germany and France. It is now for David Cameron to ‘fight Britain’s corner’, to ‘exert more influence’ and ‘punch above her weight’. And he can only achieve his professed Euro-sceptic objective by threatening the Euro-beast with a referendum of the British people.
Succeed there, Prime Minister, and your place in the pantheon of Conservative greats is assured. Fail, and you will go down in history as another weak, hypocritical, duplicitous, mendacious traitor.