Friday, 9 December 2011

london bridge or two turntables and a microphone

Over British objections, Franco-German efforts to introduce an overarching treaty for all members of the European Union were scaled back (following coverage and some handy infographics from the BBC), and changed rules imposed without the ascension of any individual member, on euro-users and a collection of a few willing hosts. This deal brokered within the bounds of market and trade and below the threshold of submitting the changes before the full EU assembly but also broke by a vocal abstention is basically a mechanism of enforcement of guidelines, a honour-system that was already in place that enumerated the conditions of being a part of the union, like maintaining a healthy debt-to-domestic revenue ratio and reciprocating freedom of movement rights for fellow-member states.  Perhaps from the beginning, such peer-review ought to have been in place, although it does seem a bit of a slight to have one’s national budget, spending plans and tax schemes subject to approval by the EU before one’s own government. Ireland first was the brunt of that outrage, but essentially, in hock and with a narrow discretionary latitude already a puppet on a string to the IMF and other lenders, Ireland was already not in charge of its own monetary affairs.
And although such a shift (and it only applies to situations where economic stability is threatened and rescue funding has been distributed, not as a matter of course) does mark a retreat on national sovereignty, it does seem better (although a slippery precedent) to surrender this bit of procedure that will only underscore weaknesses and highlight where help is needed, than risk peace or protectionism on a bigger, uncontrolled scale. The UK is course right to raise objections and even divorce itself from the whole union, if such is the will of the people, but the tenor of the UK’s hue and cry sound suspect, more like a chorus of bankers and not of Britons, Welsh and Scotsmen. Were banks with the attested aims of protecting the financial sector of the City of London behind the opposition and fear-mongering? Shielding the banks’ profits and misplaced mercy for their transgressions are what created this mess to begin with, and safeguarding the financial sector should not come at the expense of further isolation for the British Isles, a Europe running at two speeds, maybe this estrangement translating to loss not only in integration but also trade and opportunities to do business with the rest of the euro block.