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Monday, October 10, 2011

What about the democratic deficit, Mr Cameron?

In an interview with today's FT, David Cameron calls on eurozone leaders to take a "big bazooka" approach to the euro crisis, arguing that "You either make the eurozone work properly or you confront its failures" and "if you're in the euro you have accepted some common responsibilities".

Echoing Chancellor George Osborne's remarks at last week's Tory conference, Cameron seems to be implicitly calling for the EFSF, the eurozone's bailout fund, to be topped up to around €2tr - widely considered to be the amount needed to backstop Spain and Italy.

Yes, from a purely economic and financial point of view, Cameron's remarks make sense, as do his calls for banks (French in particular) to be strengthened. However, there are two problems with Cameron's comments. First, democracy. Secondly, financial contribution.

In the interview Cameron says that
"In a time of crisis you have to do the right thing in order to deliver what I think - German politicians and Germany really wants, which is a working eurozone."
Hmmm, isn't this precisely the type of rhetoric that was employed by EU leaders during the debates on the Lisbon Treaty, which Cameron and the rest of the Tory Party consistently criticised for failing to tune in to voters. We're thinking of the two referenda on the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland for example - the common theme being, 'voters don't actually really understand what they want or have voted for so let's have them vote again.'

So, if you follow Cameron's remarks to their logical extension, although virtually all the polls show that German, Dutch and Finnish voters are dead against a top up of the EFSF, what these countries really want is a working eurozone, so such poll results should basically be ignored. Irrespective of the economic merits of his arguments, it's hard to see how the UK government could credibly lecture others on the EU's 'democratic deficit' ever again.

A similar line was touted by an FT leader today, which similarly argued for the EFSF to be boosted but added more or less as an afterthought that:
"Above all, leaders must create the political conditions for good policy. Monetary union can only survive if each of its members wants it to: without voter support Europe will fail."
What exactly does this mean? The article seems to imply that the EFSF needs to be topped up to a couple of trillion, but that, at the same time, without the support of citizens "Europe will fail".

We're having problems squaring that circle.

And if Cameron really thinks that a boosted EFSF would solve the eurozone crisis, with a corresponding positive impact on the UK economy (it may or may not, but that's besides the point for this particular discussion), why should Britain not contribute. It may be their currency, but it's Cameron's banks and recovery, so why not cough up, say, through a financial transaction tax?

The point here isn't that it's wrong to argue in favour of these measures. But we need to be completely honest about the basic tension at the heart of the eurozone crisis: giving markets what they want, invariably means running over voters.

EU leaders may get away with that at the polling booths. But then again, they may not.


Peripatetic Scribe said...

My view is that some long time ago, the founding fathers of the EU (and by extension the EZ) decided that THEY knew what was best for the general public and pressed on regardless of any "democratic" leanings. Now we can see the (almost) end result. A democratic deficit? Yes - and it's been there for a very long time. Voices MUST be listened to not over-ruled; we are all old enough and wise enough to understand the implications, especially to our pockets.

Rollo said...

Does anyone actually think that anyone listens to Lord Haw Haw Cameron when he spouts his rubbish? The one thing his ordering the Eurozone to sort itself out is that the people he addresses will be so annoyed by his impertinence that it will have the opposite effect.

2nd Sight said...

The eurozone in its present form has no future, because individual member states within it have no means to protect their own economies' health according to their own citizens' democratic needs & wishes. As Cameron likewise seems to think these are unnecessary, his future is similarly uncertain - fortunately. A PM who clearly puts Britain first is urgently needed, & hopefully will emerge shortly to replace the Chamberlain-like Cameron.

Idris Francis said...

In November 1998 a friend who had lived in Rome for 30 years (who in 1997 been been the first to reveal Corpus Juris, the EU plan for a single legal system eliminating habeas corpus, jury trial, lay magistrates and much else) set out in detail precisely how the EU knew that the euro would fail, and had deliberately gone ahead with it so that they could use that "beneficial crisis" to grab the total ccontrol they knew they could not achieve by democratic means. Since 1998 many quotations have come to light confirming the plan.

Unfortunately for them they could not have known that their crisis would follow hard on the heels of a world economic crisis and as a result run totally out of their control, as it is now doing.

The idea that the same people who planned for this crisis should now be given that total control is beyond barking - if there were any justice they would he heading for jail.

Open Europe may recall the comments I made in the first question from the floor at their recent dabate "Spain - too big to fail?", that the euro is dead in the water, not just for economic reasons but because of the one factor all5 panellists and the Chairman had failed to mention even once in more than an hour - that the PEOPLE WILL NOT PUT UP WITH IT.

Could it be that Open Europe is finally realising that the days of changing the EU deal are over and all that is left is its collapse?

About time too - I realised that 19 years ago.

Better Off Out!