|Merkel and Sarkozy point the way... or poking fun at Cameron?|
Anyway, let bygones be bygones and let us celebrate the first day of a new era: a two-speed Europe.
We are done with the hypocrisy, no more lowest common denominator agreements. The continent will march on forwards, and the island north of La Manche can continue swimming towards America... except that maybe Scotland may decide to join us later on.
History proved the Charles de Gaulle was right all the time: Britain should never have entered, having instead some kind of association agreement at the same level of Turkey. The unprepared US-led enlargement towards the East was also an error: although these nations are an absolutely essential part of Europe, the calendar was all wrong, i.e. deepening of the Union should have came before a formal enlargement. This has led us to a moment when only creative destruction will solve the problem, and Merkel and Sarkozy have earned their place in history. The debt crisis is Europe's blessing in disguise.
So we have a draft intergovernmental treaty, but that is only a first step. Europe now needs the instruments of representative democracy. Of course integrated economic policies, foriegn policy and defense are essential, but none are totally legitimate without the creation of European-wide political parties. Without truly European parties setting the agenda, we will always face the risk of crippling balkanization.
Having solved the problem of a Union eternaly blocked by the British, of course the intergovernmental agreement (the "compact") itself still has to run the gauntlet of approval in each signatory country. Furthermore, a 'fiscal union' may come in many forms, and the devil is in the detail. 'Fiscal union' at most will be an euphemism for common rules for budgetary discipline across the Eurozone, there will be no merger of tax structures and authorities.
Naturally the less naïve among us are also raising fundamental doubts on the sufficiency of the intergovernmental agreement as a tool to return public debt markets to normality, strong tools such as Eurobonds or the ability of the ECB to make large scale bond purchases or increase money supply remain off the agenda. Even simple budgetary discipline rules imposed from outside will only be effective if non-compliance will lead to powerful sanctions. Writing budget prudence into the constitution of each member country per se is not enough, if politicians have a talent is is fudging the rules. In case it was forgotten: rules for budgetary discipline across the EU are already in place. The Euro convergence criteria (aka Maastricht criteria) require that member states keep deficits below 3 per cent of GDP and ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year.
|Charles de Gaulle vindicated at last - Gallic revenge on the Brits|