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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Is Britain the new model for Europe to follow?

Today's op-ed by Alan Posener in Die Welt caught our attention as it is among one of the most positive pieces about the UK's place in Europe that we have come across in the European media in recent times, even if Die Welt is predisposed to be positive about the UK given that it was founded by British soldiers in 1946. The piece is entitled "Great Britain is the new model for Europe", and we thought we'd extract a few key quotes:
“it is a persistent misconception to regard the British as bad Europeans. It probably is based on the fact that they stubbornly resist the logic of ‘ever closer union' such as the single currency. Now that this logic has led the eurozone into a period of sustained crisis, it is time for Europe to remember what the UK has to offer."
"in trying to make the eurozone into an alternative system to that of Anglo-Saxon capitalism we could cynically remark: have fun with setting up this alternative system of ‘regulation and solidarity’ without Great Britain but with Greece, Italy, Spain and the France of Francois Hollande. Without being cynical we have to realize that Britain is essential to Europe so that this nightmare won’t turn into reality.”
"The Anglo-Saxon tradition of both a liberal economy and society combined with remarkable economic, cultural, diplomatic and military potency, in short: a unique bond of hard and soft powers, makes Great Britain an indispensable nation in Europe and an indispensable partner for Germany. Assuming Germany wants to be more than a cash cow for Europe and Europe wants to be more than just a transfer union."  
“Protectionism, the walling off from international markets, especially financial markets, ‘solidarity’ instead of competition, ‘regulation’ instead of freedom, coupled with restrictions on immigration and xenophobia – that is the battle cry of the Old Europe… Openness to the rest of the world, the market, the strange and the new – this is the motto of the New Europe and it is nowhere more evident than in multicultural, cosmopolitan London.”
"It is not a coincidence that the British capital headquarters Europe’s financial industry. According to Eurostat more than 35% of all financial services of the EU-27 are generated in London. 90,000 Bankers work in London including 8,000 from Deutsche Bank. 251 foreign banks have their business in London. The financial service sector of the EU-27 is the world’s second largest after the United States. Not America, but Europe is the greatest exporter of financial services. This is to be accredited to London, which is the most important bridge between markets in America, Asia and Europe. If someone wants to create a Europe without the City of London, Europe will be separated from the world."
Some very stirring sentiments there, proof that there is an opening for closer Anglo-German relations, an opening the UK must take advantage of it it is serious about re-negotiating some of the terms of its membership...


Rik said...

France has outlived its usefullness for Germany. It has the wrong politico-economic system to be ready for the challenges the coming decade and it has the wrong friends (the South).
Of course Germany usually is a loyal friend and won't drop France from one day to the other but Germany simply forced by economic forces will start to have to look elsewhere as well.

The France-German axis simply is the fall out of 2 WWs. Put them together and they won't fight. Times have changed.

It looks more like a natural match than France. More fairplay (each in his own way) not as selfish as the French use to operate. Look at the relation Holland-Germany goes already great for decades without disturbances. The relation UK-Germany could be very similar.

Also for Europe a different sort of decisionmaking could be very helpful. One of the main reasons further integration stopped is that a lot of people in the North simply donot trust France and the differences in Europe are simply to big for a French model of government.

Why a Europe with its centre in the North simply as that is the economic powerhouse. The South is and most likely will be the coming decades a drag on the EZ economy as a whole. No source for cheap labor, too far away from main markets, education gap, businesslanguage gap, not enough proper brandname cies to base top end growth upon etc. They have to catch up. And this is the wild west of the world markets. The weak have to catch up (marche ou creve) not the rest will pay so that the weak can go along as they always did (the worldmarket is simply no European welfarestate).

christina Speight said...

Somebody should force-feed the article to our own politicians who are busily wrecking the joint!!

But above all, Barroso should also be made to read it. Today he accused the mild mannered Tory MEP leader of gloating over the Euro's difficulties when all he gave them was a dose of reality for a change,

I've always maintained that if our determination to protect British interests in the EU leads to a collapse of the euro that would be the greatest benefit we could offer to Europe (though their politicians might not appreciate it at the time) ,

The euro is a monster - Can St George slay the dragon and set free the weaker countries of Europe and let the stronger ones prosper too ?

Rik said...

1. Cameron as I see it, can not write out a referendum before the election, it is simply not in his 'agreement' with Clegg and Co.
As long as no further powers are transferred to Brussel.
2. If he plays his cards wisely it also would give him some time to solve the real damage the EU legislation has done in the UKs voters view. And go into the next election as the guy who reversed the Brussels dictatorship.

Especially as the EU treaties extremely likely will have to be reneg.ed not far from now. Either because of a (sort of ) rescue or otherwise as Greece has to leave and thta is legallyy not possible. And most liukely both. Plus add a fin.transaction tax and banking legislation. Imho a near certainty.

2. Cameron as politician can only make small corrections. On this doing a 180, would simply make him look like a complete idiot. If it is a first step in a long chain of small corrections that combined make a 180 remains however is stil to be seen.

Doubtful if that would be different. He very likely sees himself as the leader of the Tories after an election and even the next PM (and why not). So a referendum becomes very likely.

3. It is the first clear sign that he sees that a referenda or a substantial change in EU relations is simply seen from the UK unavoidable. It is pretty late, I fully agree. But his EZ colleagues simply seem to stuck much longer in their mistakes. Schauble as first one realised that voter involvement will simply be unavoidable, the rest is still going on as if there is no democracy (they probably hope so).

4. Nobody outside Brussels takes Barroso serious. An example of Merkel's now more or less standard disastrous personal policy. She always seem to go for the horse with 3 legs. Lagarde is another example. Draghi (now doing a decent job btw), but never an Italian (or any Southener) should have been put in charge of the ECB under these circumstances. Barroso she didnot want Schroder (who would likely have done a much better job, but who wouldnot).

Rik said...

Btw From reading the German magazines/papers it looks like Germany (at least its press (printing) is moving from phase 1 (denial, there is no problem) to phase 2 (there is a problem but half so bad). That is re UK Euro-exit.
Which might be possitive for the UK. It looks to be on the agenda now (but may be/likely not top spot).

The fact that they have all sorts of reasons why it is unreasonable and unlogical and won't happen hardly will matter.

The simple fact is the EU/EZ can much better afford Greece AND (say) Portugal leaving the EZ than the UK leaving the EU. The latter will by markets clearly be interpreted that the rats are leaving the sinking ship. While with Greece and Portugal it is more 'Flotsam and Jetsam'.
Only very likely that has to be made clear to them. As the understanding of the markets is pretty poor (on the other side of the Channel.

Somebody simply has to make clear to them that the UK is going for a referenda and likely soon. The outcome is likely Euro-negative, Euro-exit.
If not acted fast.

Dave can subsequently, after saddling his white horse, come to the rescue. And not make it an Euro-exit but a better revised EU-treaty. And avoid everybody in the rest of the World dumping everything that even remotely smells like Euro.

For Europe may be not reasonable may be not obo the relevant treaties, but simply an act of damage limitation. Simply as long as the crisis goes with this intensity, they cannot afford major countries leaving the EU. Also an intensified discussion on it as we are now likely to get could do much harm. Parallel talks on a revised EU position for Brittain will do much less harm than that.

Only hope the EU send in the normal guys that can keep things low profile like Rompy and not the egomaniac Barroso and keep things pleasant and out of the media (as much as possible) the EU could do well without Barroso and his usual act.
Or let them prepare the stuff low key for when the treaty has to be revised anyway. That will not be far anyway. And later put it in the revision (for Greece, or bankingstuff etc).
A proper technical revision is anyway to be preferred over politicians making a hurry-hurry law, as that usually is a mess from a legal pov and much more likely give rise tio later problems.

Nick said...

There is something that could really help to boost growth in the EU - but something no politician dare mention: the adoption of English as the official language of the European Union. Not expected any time soon!