In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission, claims that errors made when the euro was created had effectively doomed the single currency to the current debt crisisAdmittedly he doesn't actually say it's fucked and he is saying that it would all have gone swimmingly if it had been done his way, but all the same there's quite a bit he says that a lot of people would agree with.
Mr Delors claims that the current crisis stems from “a fault in execution” by the political leaders who oversaw the euro in its early days. Leaders chose to turn a blind eye to the fundamental weaknesses and imbalances of member states’ economies, he says.Can't argue with that, and nor can I argue with some bits from the interview proper because they sound very similar to what I've said more than once myself.
“The finance ministers did not want to see anything disagreeable which they would be forced to deal with,” he says.
It is a fault in the execution, not of the architects, which he claimed to have pointed out in 1997 when the plans for introducing the euro finally came together. At the time, he says, the best of the eurosceptic economists, whom he refers to as “the Anglo-Saxons”, raised the simple objection that if you have an independent central bank, you must also have a state.And when the Euro finally goes tits up the call will be for exactly that and possibly more. I've said it in comments on several other blogs as well as once or twice here - the former colonies in America formed the United States first and created their single currency later, and there will be Europhiles and Eurocrats who will seize on this as evidence that the EU attempted to put the cart before the horse and call for the full and immediate federalisation of Europe so that Son-of-Euro can be launched as quickly as possible. A United States of Europe wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing if it was a federation of competing states, but does anyone think that's even a remote possibility if it's constructed on the foundations of what's now the EU?
Mr Delors thinks “they had a point”, but the way round this problem was to insist on the economic bit of the union as much as the monetary. As well as creating a single currency, you also had to create common economic policies “founded on the co-operation of the member states”.
I get the impression from Mr Delors that he thinks Mrs Thatcher would have agreed with this view. She certainly would not have agreed, however, on the Delors version of what that co-operation should produce — the harmonisation of most taxes, plans to deal with youth and long-term unemployment, and that social dimension for which he always called...
Not. A. Prayer.
We make jokes about the EUSSR now, but I reckon it's not half as bad as it could be if formal union were to occur any time soon. It's already been pointed out before that the European Commission and Parliament are not unlike the Politburo and Supreme Soviet, and if all the borrowed money had to be repaid it won't even look as cheery as 1980s Gorky in the winter.
If they fail and the Euro fails with them it might only be the silver lining round a nasty looking cloud. The breakup of the EU is being warned, but if that sounds good to you my advice would be not to get your hopes up. More likely it'll be patched together to save egos and careers as the architects of half a billion people's misfortune say that the death of the single currency is not proof that Europe should remain a continent of independent nations but proof of the need for a federal Europe.