Monday, July 12, 2010

Open Europe reminds politicians and analysts of past crimes

It is really hard to be a perestroika europhile as you are doomed to constant disappointment (as were the proponents of the original perestroika). You call for reforms, you put forward all sorts of excellent ideas for reforms of the EU, which would be a very good and popular organization if only its bosses would listen to your ideas for reform, and what do you get? The EU and its institutions powering ahead with their own plans, which are not very sensible and not very popular but are what the EU is all about.

So you find yourself publishing pamphlets with titles like THEY SAID IT .... How the EU elite got it wrong on the euro, which is OK because Open Europe and its various predecessors were always against the euro. Or there is one that is called STILL OUT OF CONTROL - Measuring eleven years of EU regulation. Goodness knows the Boss and I get despondent about lack of progress but, at least, neither of us makes the mistake of thinking the EU can be reformed.

Actually I rather enjoyed THEY SAID IT. It is always good to be reminded of the blatant idiocies people came up with (or possibly blatant lies but the two are not mutually exclusive). Take the case of a certain Nick Clegg.
In 2002 he said:

The single currency, far from being an agent of continental style corporatism, is probably the greatest export vehicle of Anglo-Saxon economics. The euro has done more to enforce budgetary discipline, to promote privatisation and force through labour and product market liberalisation in the rest of Europe than any
number of exhortations from the IMF, the OECD, or the editors of The Economist.
He had already said in 2001
If we remain outside the euro, we will simply continue to subside into a position of relative poverty and inefficiency compared to our more prosperous European neighbours. Remember, we are already only the tenth richest nation in the EU in terms of national wealth per head. Yet you seem to think that such relative decline is a price worth paying for the sentimental satisfaction of retaining increasingly meaningless ‘control’ over our own interest rates.
In January 2009 he wrote in the Independent
The euro may well come to be regarded in the coming years as part of the answer to saving the City from permanent decline. It was easy to dismiss the fledgling euro as a ‘toilet currency’ before we realised our own economic growth was built on sand.
Yet on April 7, 2010 he told the BBC a very different story:
I don’t think the euro is for now. I go even further and say I don’t think interest rates under the Eurozone over the last few years wouldn’t have been right for the British economy […] I accept that Eurozone interest rates over the last few years would have been wrong for Britain.
Hmm. Those "last few years" included years in which he was praising the euro as the way of the future though, apparently, the interest rates were always wrong for Britain. He just forgot to mention it.

So, the pamphlet is very useful but it does soar into realms of porcine aviation by ending its Introduction with the following paragraph:
This note highlights that the politicians who sold their citizens the euro failed to either grasp or tell the whole truth about the single currency. While it is a reminder that the experts and our elected representatives can get it wrong, more importantly, it is a call for greater honesty about the future of European cooperation and a reminder of the urgent need to find a new model that is both politically and economically sustainable; one that is more in tune with the interests and preferences of European citizens.
Can't wait for the appearance of that new model.

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