Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meanwhile back in the House of Lords

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked a highly pertinent question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the United Kingdom's participation in the European Union stability mechanism, and the proposed loan to the Republic of Ireland, are in breach of the "no bailout" clauses enshrined in the Maastricht treaty.
After all, we heard a great deal about the "no bailout" clause though it never seemed to me much of a problem. The EU cannot bail out a country but individual members can "decide to help", all at the same time. So, Article 125, I recall saying, may say no bail-out but Article 122 allows you to do just that in a round-about way.

It seems that I (and the Boss on EURef) were not far wrong. On behalf of HMG Lord Sassoon (for it is he, again) answered:
My Lords, Article 125 of the treaty, on the so-called "no bailout" clause, states that a member state,

"shall not be liable for or assume the commitments",

of another member state. Article 125 does not preclude member states from providing loans to one another. The European financial stability mechanism was established under Article 122.2, which allows the Union to lend to a member state that is in difficulties or,

"seriously threatened with severe difficulties ... or exceptional occurrences beyond its control".
To be fair, Lord Sassoon rather sheepishly hinted that he did not think this was a proper use of Article 122.2 but as our friends on the other side of the Channel would say: que voulez-vous?

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