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Monday, April 11, 2011

The political lesson from the Portuguese bail-out: don’t give up EU vetoes

Over on Conservative Home we argue that the main political lesson for the UK government from the Portuguese bail-out is don’t give up EU vetoes without thinking through all possible consquences. We argue:
"And here’s the thing, the reason why the UK is now required to underwrite a Portuguese bail-out to the tune of £3-4 bn (partly via the EU budget, the legality of which is dubious, party via the IMF, which is fair game) isn’t Alistair Darling, who signed the emergency bail-out deal in May last year, or George Osborne, who allegedly was consulted by Darling. The UK long ago gave up its veto over the part of the EU treaties – the now infamous article 122 – that can be used to commit Britain to financially assisting an EU country in trouble, if that country is hit by a “natural disaster” or “occurrences beyond its control.” Even if Darling, or Osborne for that matter, had objected to the emergency EU bail-out fund last May, they would probably have been outvoted as the decision was subject to majority voting (whether a UK Chancellor, even if he had had a veto, would have wanted to block the deal, given the enormous financial and political pressures at work is also open to debate).

The question then is, whose brilliant idea was it to give up the veto over article 122 – which has effectively become the financial equivalent to Nato’s Article 5 on mutual military assistance?"

To get the answer, read the full post.

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