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The euro: safety net or straitjacket?

Mark Mardell | 13:35 UK time, Friday, 30 January 2009

Something of a reply, and a few more questions.

ikamaskeip - do enjoy the star-gazing, but back on Earth read my words again. I did not argue that euro membership does not affect Greece. That would clearly be bonkers. But the substance of your objections is important. I stand by it. Most mainstream economists do think countries like Greece are better off for joining the single currency and would be damaged by leaving. They may be wrong, and they may be proved wrong. But as far as I can see, it is what most academics believe.euros

I am not making the assertion to support any political position but because it is a statement of fact about the current state of opinion. I am not going to give a list of people I talk to on a background basis. I stress they may be misguided. It is not a good time to argue that experts always see the way ahead with great foresight.

However I admit there are two different contentions within my proposition. Perhaps I should have been clearer that there are a range of opinions on the subject. As the merits and demerits of the euro in a financial crisis is something I am sure I will come back to again and again this year, here goes.

My initial rather loose catch-all remarks can be divided into three big questions.

1. Would any of the 16 countries which officially use the euro now be better off if they had kept their original currencies?

It is easy in some places, and Greece is one of them, to find people on the street who grumble about the adoption of the single currency and if pressed might answer "yes" to the above. Within those countries it seems to me only a minority of politicians (for instance the communists in Greece) and a few economists would agree. But this consensus could of course be misguided.

2. Would countries outside the euro be better off if they joined?

There are three sub-categories:

a) Those EU members who have made a clear decision to opt out of the euro, namely Britain, Sweden and Denmark. There is of course a lively debate in all three countries. While it is off the political agenda in the UK, Denmark will probably have a referendum on this next year.

b) Those EU members who have signed up to join in the future: Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

c) Countries outside the EU. In Iceland there is a hugely contentious debate, which I have already written about, over whether the country should join the EU specifically to be within the shelter of the eurozone. There are also the countries on the list to join, like Croatia and Serbia, where I suspect a real debate is some way off. Montenegro already, unofficially, uses the euro.

3. Would any country which at the moment uses the euro be better off if it left? This is where I find common currency among mainstream economists. Jordanbasset is quite right that a former Irish bank official argues Ireland should leave the euro. But is he a lone voice? I accept that it is my job to find out if this view is more widespread. But I repeat that even many of those who dislike the euro observe that leaving would send terrible signals to the international market. I am eager to speak to more people who feel it would be an advantage.

I suspect many will want to answer my questions from a pro- or anti-euro perspective, driven more by politics than economics. There is nothing wrong with that, after all the euro is as much a political as an economic project. But it might be just as fruitful to look at this country by country. There seems to me nothing illogical about a pick-and-mix approach. It seems perfectly possible to argue that the UK is better off staying out, but Iceland would be better off joining, or that the whole project is a mistake, but for individual countries to unilaterally leave would do them no good, to give just two examples.

There's one important qualification to all of the above. I write rather blithely about countries being better or worse off. There are measures of national economic well-being, of course, but it's also true that what is good for bankers may be bad for farmers, what is a delight for exporters may be a nightmare for importers, and so on. If current plans work out, more on this, from Eastern Europe, next week.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:59pm on 30 Jan 2009, timOfBrum wrote:

    I think we should join the Euro, it just makes such economic sense.

    Most people in the country take annual holidays in Europe (far more than in any other foreign country anyway) and fluctuations in the exchange rate does nobody any good. The Eurozone is also our biggest trading partner and again currency fluctuations are no good at all for business.

    I hope one day we can look beyond petty politics for the sake of Britain's long-term economic health.

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  • 2. At 2:00pm on 30 Jan 2009, Chris wrote:

    The more countries that use the Euro the better it is. It should force politicians to make decisions how to run their economies efficiently rather than rely on a massive currency devaluation to get themselves out of trouble. The UK in theory is 30% poorer than it was 6 months, ok it makes exports cheaper and exporters richer?? But it makes everyone else poorer. So the less currencies there are in the world the better it is for the vast majority of the people, the worse it is for the bankers & currency speculators. The more transperant it is for everyone that uses the same currency to work out what they pay for something is fair value.

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  • 3. At 2:05pm on 30 Jan 2009, chrisbarcelona wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 2:13pm on 30 Jan 2009, chrisbarcelona wrote:

    From what I understand, an advantage of having the euro is that it guards against a sudden devaluation of a currency. Yet, this is exactly what certain countries need in order for their goods and services to remain competitive. If Greece had remained outside the euro, we'd have seen a swift devaluation of their currency enabling the country to remain competitive.
    We saw the perils of weak economies having strong currencies in the 1990s when South American countries semi-adopted the dollar..a decision that Argentinians are still suffering from now.

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  • 5. At 2:17pm on 30 Jan 2009, Padav wrote:

    Mark

    There is of course another alternative perspective to this debate; one that is rarely if ever mentioned in mainstream circles.

    It concerns the reasons why the single currency and the single market it was supposed to complement still fail to function in precisely that manner - as single entities.

    Fact is, the Union itself and the various facets of integration it has fostered, is still perceived as an international arrangement between distinct sovereign elements; the member states. What I label the "Europe of Nations" model, in which the primacy of the member state is still sacrosanct within the Union's institutional architecture; hence the hegemony still exerted by the European Council/Council of Ministers when it comes to the big decisions shaping the future direction and pace of integration.

    That's why you can still refer to individual elements of the single market and the eurozone in the manner that you do. It is also why individuals and groups can still talk about exit routes out of such arrangements.

    For the Union to achieve its full potential, this compartmentalised mindset must eventually dissipate. That can only happen if a truly European arena of political discourse arises, where policy fields boasting exclusively European resonance are considered, debated and decided upon by political parties exhibiting correspondingly "European" credentials.

    This kind of "real" Europe can only come about if there is a fundamental reappraisal of individual areas of governmental activity; are Europeans best served by pooling their resources (and thus sovereignty) in the field of defence - I would argue (rationally) that it is. Conversely is it correct for Healthcare policy for the West Midlands to be largely dictated and managed from Whitehall, by faceless bureaucrats only interested in targets; I would argue that it isn’t?

    I realise these concepts represent a quantum leap forward from present thinking but Europe will never break free from the prevailing stranglehold exercised by the member states until this "Rubicon" moment is reached in the European public's disposition toward the idea of Europe.

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  • 6. At 2:18pm on 30 Jan 2009, BernardVC wrote:

    If anything the recent banking crisis in Belgium showed that we're better of inside the eurozone.
    Without it we'd have seen Icelandic scenarios over here, given that our banking sector was enormous for a country our size.
    So, thank goodness for the euro.

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  • 7. At 2:19pm on 30 Jan 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Mark,

    I think what is required here is investigation of the agenda of the likes of Lord [Leon] Brittan who talks darkly about the perils and disaster which would befall any country such as Spain who might decide to leave the euro and its umbrella of protection..

    He sounds rather like some Italian godfather mentioning to one of the 'family' that they shouldn't leave the 'protection' afforded by the clan, lest some, ahem, little misfortune arise..

    I agree, you can't argue that some countries like Greece haven't benefited from being in the Eurozone, but it may be a 'zero-sum-game' where other countries lose out.

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  • 8. At 2:32pm on 30 Jan 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    A pre-requisite for joining the Euro is the [url=http://www.euractiv.com/en/euro/stability-growth-pact/article-133199]Euro Stability and Growth pact[/url]; which will greatly please some contributors to this blog as there is no way on God's earth that the UK could qualify, the way Gordon Brown is going about things. I do agree that it was sensible for the UK to keep Sterling as long as it was [b]massively[/b] overvalued though.

    For every David McWilliams, you can probably find an [url=http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1015708.shtml]opposing opinion[/url].

    I personally find the Euro a boon, this is purely on a selfish consumer level. Now I am only a victim of outrageous theft when I transfer money to the UK, but I think Britons on the whole know how mindbogglingly scrupulous the British banking system is.

    On an economic level, the Euro and it's (overly?) stringent rules and regulations protect smaller economies; just as London contributes much more than Skelding (say), Germany/France balances Portugal/Greece (again, for example).

    I still expect comments about "how we won the war", "bl**dy foreigners pinching our jobs", and "I don't want [i]Foreign state[/i] police in my country", as it has nothing to do with the blog ;)

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  • 9. At 2:34pm on 30 Jan 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    Mark I read your blog post and watched your news report 'Euro blamed for recession'.

    In my view both your blog post and news report reflect more about the British views and questions about the economic situation and the state of the Eurozone than on what the actual situation on the ground is.

    For example from a Finnish point of view, comparing our local media and what local blog commentators have said, the difference between our view and the view passed in here are like the day and night.

    For instance there is no serious debate about will the Eurozone sustain the crisis. The only voices questioning the Eurozone come either from USA or Britain. There is neither any debate would we be better of if we would be outside the Eurozone.

    I think what is going here are cultural differentiations on experienced history and values that make the British view so dramatically differ from our own view of the situation. For example at the beginning of this crisis I saw many commentators and even now I see few commentators suggesting that ECB should focus its efforts on keeping the value of Euro up and the inflation down, and noting that ECB should not lower interests rates at all. I also have noted that in these forums many, presumably, British commentators prefer using quick financial fixes to smoothen the situation than taking the hard way and fixing actual problems in the economy in the first place: i.e. devaluations and lowering of interests rates as ways to fix.

    I also would add that you should look more on to the future. Just today Erkki Liikanen, current Member of the Governing Council of ECB and an ex-Commissar, suggested that ECB should take the responsibility on regulating large banks that operate in multiple Eurozone countries. You should also note that the SEPA will launch in 2009 and be in full effect in end of 2010, which should bring huge costs reductions for Eurozone economies.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Euro_Payments_Area

    Other than that, of course your post is again interesting to read, but the questions presented are more academic than practical in their nature.

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  • 10. At 2:41pm on 30 Jan 2009, SMcCarrick wrote:

    Ireland's participation in the Euro project has not been without numerous problems. At the inception of the Euro- the Irish property market was already reckoned to be overvalued by ~20% (according to the OECD), and the low interest rate regime and easier credit we signed up caused this to spiral and bubble out of control over the next 5-6 years.

    It should be noted that Europe is composed of a number of economies which structually are very different in nature from each other. There are also a number of totally different regulatory and tax regimes. It was into this maelstrom that a 'one-size-fits-all' monetary policy was thrown. Quite patently, one size did not, and does not, fit all.

    The Euro itself is a political project, first and foremost. The single market has been a dream for the original founders of the Coal and Steel Community- and something that the EEC and subsequent entities have strived towards. A single currency, the Schengen agreement, Freedom of movement of people and goods- these are all steps towards much greater integration of the different member states.

    Some people think that adoption of the Euro somehow compromises their sovereignty- why does it, or should it, any more than any of a range of the other measures which appear so much less contentious? In the UK- the Queen would continue to feature on all coinage- as Irish coinage carries a harp etc. The only difference is that my Euro would be readily interchangeable with yours- without the bank or bureau-de-change grabbing an intermediary fee....... Perhaps its an oversimplification- but why is the Euro so contentious- when other EU projects with far more widespread ramifications- such as the Nice treaty etc, have been subscribed without such debate?

    Where is sterling now- it represents less than 5% of the world's reserve currency, versus 26-27% for the Euro and just over 60% for the dollar. People are deluding themselves if they still see sterling as a reserve currency, a bastion of global trade- it simply isn't any longer.

    Ireland's big problem was not that our exchange rate with the Euro was wrong- it wasn't- it was the low interest rate regime mandated by the mandarins in Frankfurt were toxic to the Irish economy and resulted in run-away inflation and asset price bubbles. When you add the lax financial regulatory framework present in Dublin into the equation- all hell broke loose (its still likely that the two big banks AIB and Bank of Ireland could yet need to be nationalised).

    Somehow I'm not sure that I can see the UK government being satisfied to surrender control over interest rates in the manner Eurozone members have to. Its not just because of its Island status that the UK has a fortress mentality.........

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  • 11. At 2:43pm on 30 Jan 2009, Mr Green wrote:

    All I know is that the Euro is damaging the various countries' tourist trade.
    Since Spain adopted the Euro I have taken only 1 holiday there. Which cost me a fortune.
    My neighbours and various friends have had the same experience. And this was before the pound's exchange rate fell through the floor.
    Instead I now holiday outside of the Euro-zone and get a lot more holiday for my money.

    btw - whilst on a non-euro holiday I met a group of Germans who all congratulated me on Britain's wise move of keeping pound. They all wished Germany had kept the Deutsche-Mark. This was not because of any political bent, but purely because of the DM's spending power.

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  • 12. At 2:59pm on 30 Jan 2009, mikewarsaw wrote:

    Seeing the Euro from the perspective of a country which is not in Euroland but most of its trade (80%) is with the eurozone I can make the following observations:
    1. The recent financial and economic crisis has caused the Polish Zloty to collapse in its exchange rate both against the EUR and the USD (roughly 60%), despite all the macro figures being stable and positive. Why? Because the country is lumped together with all the other emerging east europeans, including the basketcases like the Ukraine.
    2. A major issue is therefore currency stability in both exports and imports. Currently exporters are happy with the weaker zloty but the export markets are in serious trouble. Importers are complaining that their imports are more expensive added to which local citizens are cutting back on consumer spending to put money aside.
    3. The country has its own reserves of foreign currencies but they are not enough to prevent a major spekulative attack on the zloty.Being inside Euroland would act as a stabilising barrier against international speculators.
    4. Being in Euroland is of course no excuse for not having prudent country financial management. Compare the debt ratings of the profligant Italians and Greeks against the careful conservative Dutch and Germans. To the Poles, therefore, who have historically been through two hyperinflations (like the Germans) careful management of public finances within the Eurozone is a perceived major advantage as against the standalone-in-a-storm zloty. 5. The consistently lower interest rates of the Eurozone plus having a fully independent central bank located in Frankfurt well out of the grubby hands of populist politicians is perceived by the majority of Poles as a distinct advantage. Traditionally the Poles saw the Deutschemark and the US Dollar as the two real currencies. Faith in the USD has evaporated. The DM has of course been replaced by the EUR, which removes the historical political problem but retains all the benefits!

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  • 13. At 3:07pm on 30 Jan 2009, barrkel wrote:

    The trouble with keeping the pound low, for people in the UK, is that the UK makes precious little stuff worth buying.

    Beyond services, an undervalued pound might help what few exporters there are in the country, but it does little to help people like me (an Irish expat) and others who have savings denominated in sterling, but want to buy most of their "stuff" from world markets (i.e. buying dollars) or regional markets (i.e. Europe, i.e. buying euro).

    Immediately local markets, within the small UK economy, simply don't make a wide enough range of stuff to maintain my living conditions.

    So, I would much rather take the Bank of England's control of the printing press out of the grubby hands of government, and far away under those responsible for a wider perspective.

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  • 14. At 3:38pm on 30 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    Dear Mr Mardell and your handsome reply acknowledging my queries about the views of economists on the Euro.

    Thank you for your time and consideration: The above article does set out a much clearer perspective on the issues than had been so in the 'Greek farmers' commentary.

    Your 3 questions are at the fundamental heart of the pro and anti debate re EU Fiscal policy and therefore EU membership.

    I do agree that quitting the Euro would send terrible signals to the world's financial-economic markets. However, as you rightly set out towards the close of your remarks, that is not the same as actually meaning it would be a bad thing for a nation to take that step.
    Fiscal Markets do not like instability, but that is not the same as being unable to cope with volatility. Surely, if economic history reveals any lessons, it is that 'recovery' inevitably follows 'recession' and often with positive structures emerging from the original perceived debacle. So it is with financial markets; they adjust because those disposed to use them are interested in profit and therefore will, given the right incentive (i.e. large profit), cause a silk purse to emerge from any sow's ear!

    Some Economists may well predict doom and gloom in a breakaway to a Euro-free economic system. However, as that scenario of disastrous economic collapse has already befallen the Euro-zone one has to ponder what exactly the Euro is supposedly securing its membership from, and, exactly how much worse it could possibly be on the outside?

    There is little doubt the consensus of conventional opinion among economists is that the Euro is a good thing. Equally, as you alluded to, there's almost no faith in any conventional views expressed by those same economists. In no small part it is their considered, expert advice that led to several worldwide catastrophically misguided regulatory and investment policies.

    As many have said: This economic crash is not as a result of adjusting market forces. It is almost entirely due to overwhelming poor economic management prompted by excessive greed (a new terminology is required for this phenomenon) and grossly inept political governance.

    I fear it is the very same consensus economists presently pushing for billions of tax-payers money to be used in subsidy for ailing/collapsing financial industries. They must all have read Keynes at some time, but it would appear almost all have forgotten that the great man's economic wisdom included a severe rider on the Nation State's capacity to support 'Capital Deepening' whilst absorbing 'zero-sum-games'.

    It is very likely this crisis will make the Euro seem even more inviting, but, it is a false allure based on a 'collective' mentality that 'one-size-fits-all' when natural economic evolution has always led to splintering and diversity as the best way forward.

    Naturally, I very much hope I am wrong for my children's and grandchildren's sake.

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  • 15. At 3:43pm on 30 Jan 2009, busby2 wrote:

    Mark

    Thank you for producing such an interesting blog.

    It is therefore a great shame that, as I write this comment, not one of the previous 14 comments have been published, despite the fact that the first comment was made 1 hour 45 minutes ago (I am writing this at 3.44 pm).

    Can we please have a much quicker response from the BBC in publishing replies?

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  • 16. At 3:45pm on 30 Jan 2009, LogicalJack wrote:

    Let's get this right.

    Can't see that sub-category (A) exists any more. You are forgetting the Lisbon Treaty which Gordon Brown has signed up to along with Sweden and Denmark.

    It says:-

    AMENDMENTS TO THE TREATY ON EUROPEAN UNION AND TO THE TREATY
    ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY
    Article 1:
    The Treaty on European Union shall be amended in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
    GENERAL PROVISIONS
    4) Article 2 shall be replaced by the following:
    ‘Article 2
    4. The Union shall establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro.'

    So this notion that the UK has an opt-out from the euro is complete tosh. Brown has, by his signature on the Treaty in Dec 2007, condemned the pound to history. So please come clean and tell it like it really is.

    Brown may bluster, obfuscate and protest that there is "no chance" that we will abolish the pound but if that is true then either he is in denial or telling porkies. The fact is that Labour have crossed the psychological threshold so they no longer believe that it is a question of "if" but "when" we join the Euro. The problem is that they dare not tell us straight in case we disagree with them - hence all the weasel words to try and diminish the importance of the issue ("...we'll consider it when the conditions are right." GB) and hope that we don't bother to read the Lisbon Treaty, or that journalists don't bother to read it either and explain the true state of affairs.

    Accuracy matters, Mark. If you are going to use the term "opt-out" then at least explain that it is only temporary because the Lisbon Treaty dictates that it be that way.

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  • 17. At 3:56pm on 30 Jan 2009, chris smith wrote:

    The euro is now showing very early signs of failing it wont protect you from recession watch this space

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  • 18. At 4:05pm on 30 Jan 2009, chris smith wrote:

    There is no point in debating the euro in the uk the vast majority are turning more againt the EU you cant sell the british a dead duck.Like todays main head line "Brtish job for Britsh workers" people are now learning the dangers of EU Memebrship

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  • 19. At 4:09pm on 30 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Thanks Mark, an interesting post, would be good if you could talk to those economists who do hold a differing opinion to those you have associated with up to now, even though they may be a minority view point.

    Re post 2, Chris Arta, when you say the U.K. is now 30% poorer than 6 months ago not sure what you mean. 6 months ago sterling was valued around 1.26 euros, today it is just over 1.12, make that around 11% drop. Even 12 months ago it was around 1.34 euros, so that is still a drop of less than 20%.
    Still think such a drop will be good for U.K. business', always accepted not so good for people living in Europe who are paid in sterling

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  • 20. At 4:13pm on 30 Jan 2009, tuairimiocht wrote:

    Question: Why is the following joke wrong?

    "What's the difference between Ireland and Iceland: One letter and six months".

    Answer: The Euro, as evidenced by Iceland's desire to join.

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  • 21. At 4:23pm on 30 Jan 2009, britishandeuropean wrote:

    A common market works better with a common currency. Having different currencies in the same market that fluctuate wildly in value is like asking traders and businesses to work with measures or weights that change in value day by day.

    British exporters are now at a disadvantage compared to our competitors in the Eurozone market (which is our main export market) because we have the extra costs of changing money (giving the greedy banks a cut) and hedging (insuring against exchnage rate fluctuations)

    We are also likely to lose ou in terms of inward investment. If you want to put a plant in Europe to supply the European market, would you place it in the the eurozone (so your costs and the bulk of your revenues are in the same currency) or strerling area (so your costs are in one currency and the bulk of your revenues in another currency, fluctuating against eachother every day)?

    Staying out means losing out!

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  • 22. At 4:24pm on 30 Jan 2009, tuairimiocht wrote:

    "Ireland's big problem was not that our exchange rate with the Euro was wrong- it wasn't- it was the low interest rate regime mandated by the mandarins in Frankfurt were toxic to the Irish economy and resulted in run-away inflation and asset price bubbles."

    I take issue with the suggestion that low policy rates have been responsible for asset-price bubbles. Iceland had an 18% central bank policy rate before its financial crisis. It didn't help! Britain had a higher policy rate than the Eurozone and it is going to suffer the consequences of the financial crisis more than any other developed economy. If Ireland had had an independent monetary policy with rates set to target asset prices, such as house prices, we would have borrowed in euros instead! Better to cut out the middleman and to throw monetary stability into the deal.

    Asset-price bubbles were financed by surplus countries "investing" in deficit countries. Investment sounds nice, but all this meant was that these countries poured their renminbis and euros into housing- and corporate-debt markets. It's not clear how interest rates could have prevented trade deficits associated with the export of manufacturing jobs, and mercantalist tricks that certain surplus countries use.

    This issue needs to be fixed by having an active industrial policy on the part of the government, and having a counter-cyclical regulatory regime in place for the banks - having counter-cyclical capital adequacy ratios at the banks, for starters.

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  • 23. At 4:26pm on 30 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 13, Barkel, you may not like the choice of domestic products, but what you have found with imports being too expensive to buy, is the precise objective of currency devaluation - would appear to be working.

    Interesting to see the effects on balance of trade deficit over the next 6 months. Certainly I am finding British made products cheaper than equivalent euro zone ones at the moment and have no trouble with the choice or quality. Feel sorry for those eurozone countries (and more importantly the workers in their factories) trying to export to the U.K.

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  • 24. At 4:27pm on 30 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Mark,

    I completely agree that the pros and cons of joining the Euro should be dealt with on a country by country basis. I do, however, think there is one general point to be made first. While it is perfectly sensible to ask whether Greece or any other country might have fared better out side the single currency, it makes less sense to turn the question on it's head and ask whether a particular country could soften the blow of the economic crisis by coming into the Eurozone. The reason I say this is that any country which is currently suffering severely from the downturn would simply no be able to meet the membership criteria. This is why I am slightly mystified about the idea of Iceland joining. It is one thing for them to set membership as an ultimate political objective, quite another to see it as a short term solution.

    Up until a few months ago, it was quite common for Hungarians to go shopping in Slovakia for a whole range of items from beer to computer hardware because the prices were considerably lower. Since Slovakia has joined the Euro, the traffic has been in the opposite direction. It is not that there has been any significant change in pricing - simply that you can buy a lot more forints for your euros these days. The question is asked here about whether the economy would have suffered quite so badly had Hungary been in the euro when the crunch hit. One of the main reasons why it hit so hard was because a high percentage of Hungarian savings are held in Euros so when the western banks started offering guarantees on deposits, the migration of savings would probably have happened anyway without similar guarantees being offered here.

    More to the point, Hungary did have to go to the IMF for significant funding towards the end of last year and there are quite severe conditions imposed. Could Hungary have avoided this by making a quick dash for the single currency? Of course not because if Hungary had could have met the criteria, it would not have had to go to the IMF in the first place.

    Hungary is, for all intents and purposes a dual currency system. Yes you would see a raised eyebrow if you went into Tesco for a bag of sugar and paid in euros but, for just about everything else, the euro is generally accepted. Most commercial property and property investment is priced in euros (residential in forints because the market is local). The point is that the euro does not have the same political resonances that it does, for example, in the UK. Hungary is committed to joining. It is a merely a matter of when and it is widely accepted that this will happen.

    It is important to remember that all the countries that joined in the large tranche of 2004 were required to commit to joining the euro. It is not a separate issue in these countries, simply part of an ongoing process. Sweden has a similar treaty obligation but a precondition of admission to the single currency is two years membership of ERMII, which Sweden has not done using it as a loophole to retain the krona. This leaves the UK and Denmark and the only EU members which are not in the eurozone and are not compelled by treaty to join sooner or later. The difference is that the pound can still claim to be a global trading currency, the Danish currency is not.

    So clearly generalised statements about whether it is a good thing or not to be within the Eurozone are unhelpful. Circumstances vary from country to country. Departure by existing members is a whole different issue but anyone who believes that euro membership brings a simple one-size-fits-all should read Paul Mason on what happens to interest rates on sovreign debt when a country loses it's AAA rating.

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  • 25. At 4:53pm on 30 Jan 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To ikamaskeip (14):

    You think that the economy has crashed? Oh boy, I got news for you, this is nothing yet.

    In the Finnish depression of 1990 - 1993, our GDP dropped 13%, our unemployment rate jumped from 3,5% to 18,9%, at worsts points of the crisis Finnish Central Bank was very near of collapse and had to raise short term interests rates to 18% and over, the hike in interests rates and devaluation of our currency not only killed large companies but it made huge amounts of people to loose their houses and be indebted for the rest of their life. Even in 1997 the unemployment figure was still over 12%. Some areas and some industrial towns had still in 00s unemployment rates near 20%.

    Let me also tell you something. When you have real economic crash, almost a total collapse of the economy, the financial costs of it bale in comparison of the social costs and general sickness in the society at whole.

    Like I said before, this economic crisis is nothing in comparison on what happened in the beginning of 90s.

    PS. How long is the economic memory of the people in here? How many of the British contributors experienced and still remember the 90s depression in UK? Does nobody remember?

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  • 26. At 5:08pm on 30 Jan 2009, tuairimiocht wrote:

    Regarding the McWilliams interview and the Torygraph article, one should remember that he does tend to make up things. In spite of certain utterings to the contrary, one thing he did **not** make up is the phrase "Celtic Tiger".

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  • 27. At 5:12pm on 30 Jan 2009, Seethruya wrote:

    Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania are obliged to accept the euro when their economies are aligned as part of their accession treaties to the EU.
    That will only leave UK, Demark and Sweden outside of the club and the Danes and Swedes are likely to opt in sooner rather than later, possibly along with plucky little Iceland and an independent Scotland.
    So there we are - a member of a big economic club with a currency that we can allow to float to our 'advantage'
    Well we haven't seen the effects of a 23 % real devaluation on high street prices yet, although isn't it interesting that petrol prices remain so high? Well thats because we pay 23% more than we should as its priced in $. And all those other goodies priced in Yen $ and € are soon going to cost us a heck of a lot more.
    Good club members join in properly, the political non-debate about the euro in the UK is pathetic.

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  • 28. At 5:57pm on 30 Jan 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    LogicalJack @16

    Your name sounds very logical but your post doesnt.

    Or perhaps what is illogical is the British ambivalent position towards the EU?

    More likely.

    Whatever the case, the UK has indeed opted out of that part of the LT (the euro), in the same way as it has opted out of many others, among them the unrestricted and unchecked TRUE freedom of movement of people, whatever their nationality, inside the EU. This freedom of movement is a basic principle of the EU, something that not even the euro is. I can only hope that one day Mark Mardell will give us a debate on that one in the same way that he is now giving us a debate on the euro (or is that a taboo?).

    Incidentally, the article that you quote means that the UK has to pay its membership fees in euros (something rather costly for HMG now that the pound has lost over 30% of its value vs. the euro compared to the past few years average)

    LogicalJack, read the whole of the LT (if you have the patience) and you will notice that there are pages and pages, and individual protocols, devoted to the British opt-outs, of the euro, Schengen (TRUE freedom of movement), Charter of Rights, etc.

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  • 29. At 6:21pm on 30 Jan 2009, amercaladmire wrote:

    January 30, 2009

    As an American -from the USA- I remember the way that the independent European currencies used to work, but that was before the EU agreements and such.

    Having spent Eurodollars in Europe in the early part of the 21st century, I found that the money caused some reaction in the way people addressed their personal as well as economic concerns with me, knowing that I am a "foreigner" from the USofA and "wasn't there during the changeover".

    Also, though I think the new currency is convenient in its own way, I think that maybe if the nation-to-nation European money translation rates provided old and new profit opportunities for the new ones emerging with new businesses (and old)who trade and employ from country to country, as before, then perhaps new profit could be generated, as before, within Europe, between European countries, despite predictions of a new, more dire economic outlook.

    In fact, despite the current economic outlook for Europeans participating within the E.U., some have said, within Europe, that the new currency is an unnecessary redundancy and stifles new and familiar economic ways and sorts and types of growth. By assuming that outsourcing to Asia and assorted countries outside of Europe, instead of within Europe -or closer to home-could save a depressed 20th century European market, the new Eurodollar currency, perhaps meant for a new United States of Europe, may have had exactly the opposite effect, locally and within European boundaries.

    Therefore I can imagine that to be possible, but, as the Europeans probably already know, America is not quite like Europe, and vice-versa.

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  • 30. At 6:30pm on 30 Jan 2009, frenchderek wrote:

    First a comment on Ireland in the eurozone. A survey carried out by Lansdowne Market Research (an independent organisation) shows 58% of voters in Ireland now in favour of the Lisbon Treaty. The reasoning given is that people perceive that it was by being in the eurozone that has protected them from even worse effects than they are currently feeling.

    Second, a comment on the Euro exchange rate against the UK pound. Our pensions are paid in euros, directly into our French Bank account. In the few years until about June 2007 the exchange rate hovered around 1.40/1.50 to the pound. Today we're getting excited because it has risen to the dizzy heights of 1.12! Ray of sunshine, though. Whilst our pensions in pounds have increased in value, they have, at the same time, decreased in value in "our" currency (ie euros): so, we pay less income tax! I'll drink to that (I might just be able to afford it today).

    PS an EU-sponsored poll recently found that something like 80% of Britons are opposed to the UK entering the euro (sorry you'll have to look for the source yourself, I'm off for that drink!).

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  • 31. At 6:44pm on 30 Jan 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    Far too late to campaign for "British Jobs for British Workers".

    Bet most on the picket lines wear Chinese clothes and Indian leather goods, drive foreign cars, have holidays abroad and buy imported white goods and TV sets, yet fail to see the irony.

    We have all been willing to see our industry move overseas - to the Euro zone and beyond - and neither the public nor the Government seemed to think there was anything wrong in it.

    Compare that with Euro-enthusiastic Germany - the may be Euro-zone, the blue EU floag may fly everywhere, there may be no border controls, but nearly everyone drives a German car, has German white goods, and they certainlky have worked hard to retain their industry.

    Well, the chickens are coming home to roost. Who will invest in the UK now? If companies want the Eurozone and open borders they will go to the near Continent; if they want Eurozone, the English language and low taxes they will go to Ireland; if they want Europe and cheap labour they will invest in Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland; if they want really cheap labour they will go to the Far East or India.

    I cannot think for the life of me why any company would place any meaningful investment in a country with poor and expensive transport communications with the rest of Europe, still uses out-dated weights and measures, chooses to stick with its own currency (thereby creating huge currency uncertainties and extra costs), has time-consuming border controls, and yet has high labour costs and high taxes.

    Something is going to give sooner or later, and as things stand at the moment, it is likely to be the currency and our wage costs - along with our standard of living.

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  • 32. At 7:04pm on 30 Jan 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    Jukka-Rohila @ 25

    Very interesting post, I had no idea things got so bad in Finland.

    Few yet really realise just how bad this one is going to get in the UK.

    I do remember the early 1990s here. It was bad for a few years, but this time will be much, much worse. The UK that comes out the other side of this one will be a every different country from the one of the 1980-2007era

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  • 33. At 7:16pm on 30 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    I notice with interest that Gordon Brown is lecturing the world at Davos against the evils of protection is while, at the same time standing by his "British jobs for British workers" the 2007 Labour Party conference.

    The spreading industrial unrest in protest against the perfectly legal use of EU labour for some specialist construction projects resulting from legitimate tender processes is merely a symptom of an underlying disease. The good times have gone, at least for now, and what better scapegoat than the EU? The PM is still strutting his stuff as a world leader in Switzerland while pandering to a populist agenda for UK consumption.

    The plain truth is that under European law, UK job vacancies are open to EU citizens (Romanian and Bulgarian exceptions excluded) and tenders open to EU corporations. If the politicians are serious about British jobs for British people, they have to contemplate leaving the EU. Instead of having an open and honest debate and an electoral consultation process, they have chosen the underhand route.

    The body politic has finally come out in it's true colours. It was never serious about the European project and the voices that want to cut loose will only get louder. One can only hope that a captain can be found before the rudderless vessel hits an iceberg. So all this talk about the Eurozone is fascinating stuff but quite irrelevant to the UK. The argument is lost but the battle won.

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  • 34. At 7:18pm on 30 Jan 2009, Ergaomnes wrote:

    LogicalJack: You might want to read the Protocols annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, specifically Protocol 15:

    THE HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES,
    RECOGNISING
    - that the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to adopt the euro without a separate decision to do so by its government and parliament,

    - GIVEN that on 16 October 1996 and 30 October 1997 the United Kingdom government notified the Council of its intention not to participate in the third stage of economic and monetary union,

    - NOTING the practice of the government of the United Kingdom to fund its borrowing requirement by the sale of debt to the private sector,

    - HAVE AGREED upon the following provisions, which shall be annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union:
    1. Unless the United Kingdom notifies the Council that it intends to adopt the euro, it shall be under no obligation to do so.
    (...)
    3. The United Kingdom shall retain its powers in the field of monetary policy according to national
    law.

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  • 35. At 7:21pm on 30 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    33 above - Erratum

    . . . of protectionism while, at the same time standing by his "British jobs for British workers"pledge at the 2007 Labour Party conference.

    Apologies.

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  • 36. At 7:40pm on 30 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    JukkaRohila25 and the economic collapse is very real as you say and ongoing.
    Not sure why you feel I have not understood the size of the economic downturn: It is a worldwide crisis as you say, but, I suspect you are far gloomier about the likely longevity of the crisis than myself. Right now Enzo Gutzeit and Wartsila are cutting back again just like the early 1990s.
    When I was visiting Lapeenranta, Varkaus and Heinola regularly during 1987 to 1994 it was very sad to see the levels of unemployment. Of course it was actually much worse in the Napapiiri region where much like now along the northern line from Kemi to Rouvaniemi and Kemijarvi etc. it has already suffered heavy blows to its raw materials manufacturing base. Similarly, Nokia which outsourced much of its communications equipment production in the early part of this decade is downsizing its Finn Research & Development base whilst also cutting back at overseas sites.
    In answer to your question: I am quite sure many Britons recall the economic difficulties of the early 1990s in the UK. In no small measure they contributed to the downfall of the Conservative Govnt and the spectacular electoral success of New Labour. Having said that I can also point to a UK economic recovery that had almost nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with the measures taken at UK National level by PM Blair's first Government.
    Britons, Finns, Americans, Japanese, Australians, Brazilians, Nigerians, Chinese, Indians etc. are all in the financial quagmire at present. It will take very careful economic handling to ensure the catastrophe does not lead to mass disturbances and possibly violent political unrest. Whether the efforts to enhance recovery are at International or National level the situation is very different this time around. This is a crisis about money and confidence in monetary supply-demand and not about the adjustment of the 1st world to the spread of cheaper manufacturing zones.
    I know you are in favour of the European Union: This crisis will be the greatest test it has yet faced for its ideal of collective strength. At present Brussels is showing all the hallmarks of being trapped in its one-size-fits-all psychosis. Thus opportunity for maneouvre and speed of response to micro-economic needs is classically weaker in the 27 nations than the USA, India or Republic of China etc.
    Personally, I prefer the UK was out of the EU asap, but, certainly at this moment as the UK is forced to participate in the Brussels EUrocratic hegenomy, like you, I must hope they can hold the line against extremism.
    An economic theory that I find increasingly attractive is the New Classical View: A political-economic-fiscal policy that recognises no systematic, i.e. predictable monetary policy matters, as in the short and longterm natural economic norms will prevail whether Governments, Financiers etc. like it them or not. Obviously anathema to the EUrotcracy. Therefore, in my opinion very likely to be precisely the economic-fiscal prescription the 27 patients need at this vital period.

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  • 37. At 7:58pm on 30 Jan 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #5 padav01

    "That can only happen if a truly European arena of political discourse arises, where policy fields boasting exclusively European resonance are considered, debated and decided upon by political parties exhibiting correspondingly "European" credentials."

    Totally agree. Have I been reading your mind, or have you been reading mine?

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  • 38. At 8:00pm on 30 Jan 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    Mark, this is a very good and balance article except for one thing. In typical British-centric fashion it poses the wrong question.

    The question is not whether a straitjacket is better than a safety net or vice-versa, the real question is much more fundamental. It is the following:

    Does the UK want to be a FULL and EQUAL participant in the EU and the Single Market, or alternatively it prefers to a) keep its independent monetary policy and b) continue to police the intra-EU cross-border movements of people (mostly of its own citizens) coming to the UK.

    Answers in a postcard. You don’t need economists to make that decision. And before the usual suspects accuse me of being an EU propagandist, there are NO right or wrong answers but one thing is as sure as death: The UK cannot have it both ways as it is desperately trying to do. It is like wanting to have the advantages of being BOTH a (young) bachelor and a happily married man. In *normal* circumstances this is not possible, but of course I am sure that many in the anti-EU camp will find a way around it.

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  • 39. At 8:20pm on 30 Jan 2009, uk_abz_scot wrote:

    What would Ireland get by leaving the Euro?

    A Punt worth about the same as an Icelandic Krona?
    There are no jobs in the UK for its surplus labour.
    As for their imports a gallon of petrol would become prohibitively expensive.

    Of course the Irish would get a cheer from the Euro-sceptic papers. and that isn't worth a Punt!




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  • 40. At 8:53pm on 30 Jan 2009, Michael Walsh wrote:

    Don't worry about Dave he's a bit ma.. ma... mad! He made piles of money saying the pope's kids were on the gravy train for life and then it turned out he was wrong.

    In a desperate search for the next big thing he decided to advocate leaving the euro, it sells more copy!

    The same experts who McWilliams said were wrong about the economy heading for recession, now argue that the euro saved up from the IMF.

    Funny that Britain controls its monetary policy but still had a boom and bust housing market, isn't it!

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  • 41. At 9:42pm on 30 Jan 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To ikamaskeip (36):

    Actually I'm not that gloomy about the future, I just wanted to note that there are economic crisis and then there are economic collapses. We are in economic crisis now, that happens from then and now, no big deal, the only thing we have to do is to start addressing both local and global issues that have caused this economic crisis and thus make sure it wont turn into an economic collapse.

    To Eurozone and to the EU I have the fullest confidence. They will manage this crisis with out a doubt, but more importantly they will allow us to both touch global issues and have internal peace to address local issues.

    The global issue that caused this economic crisis is the US dollar and the US government. Since the end of Bretton Woods and the start of trading oil with USd, US has externalized its inflation. The big problem is that US has grown too used to just printing more dollars thus ending up into a situation where nobody actually believes in it but is too scared to make any drastic moves to not to make it collapse and thus loose huge amounts of savings.

    Fixes for the global problem are decrease of USd position as reserve currency, trading oil with Euros or transferring into trading it against a currency basket, which leads into obligatory decrease in US consumption that the both EU, Japan and China must meet by increasing local consumption.

    The local issues that we in Europe have concern more or less about the efficiency of states and underinvestment to our infrastructure and society. Many countries even in good years spend money that they didn't have, now its a time to make fixes. For example Italy just did a reform to make the country more federal, putting regions in-charge of their finances, thus making especially the southern Italy to concentrate on becoming more efficient and better place to do business. The same is true in other states. The big thing here is that with the EU and the Eurozone, countries don't have to make cut-throat decisions, they can make sensible decisions as both the EU and Eurozone protect them from storms of international markets.

    You should also note that US, China and India due to their strong central managements can do big things quickly can also make wrong things quickly. What we have in Europe is a model where 27 countries will all gather and use local remedies while the EU provides co-ordination and prevents use of harmful remedies and takes part in global change of the system. The Eurosystem and ECB ensure that the value of money and our ability to use it will stay, even if some Eurozone country would default, that countries companies and private persons wouldn't have change at their positions.

    PS. Things are actually not bad here in Finland. The state has just introduced rescue package which includes building of new roads, railroads and renovation of public property including schools. The state also changes educational allocations adding more placements for vocational training. In spring of 2010, or even sooner, the state will with big probability give at least one permit for construction of new nuclear power plant and in good case for two or three plants. Finland and Estonia together with EU will also build an new undersea electric cable. There are also other developments coming and if the crisis deepens the state will introduce them.

    PS2. The rebound of Finland after the 90s shock treatment owns huge amounts to EU. By joining the EU our industries got access to European markets and companies like Nokia have directly benefited from having close relations to the EU Commission and working together with them. Also with the introduction of Euro, the state has secured its debts by transferring all state debts into Euro nominated bonds, and companies have had less over-head and risks due to having one currency. The best note about how both EU and Euro has benefited us that anymore there isn't any talk about moving Nokia's or any others companies HQ's to London or other European city, Finland and Helsinki are adequate to them.

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  • 42. At 9:56pm on 30 Jan 2009, politejomsviking wrote:

    As an American of German decent I hate the EURO.

    It destroyed something of strong ethnic pride in the US, namely a powerful, Independent, Stable German Mark!

    Let other countrys build Armys, Navys, Air Forces, museaums, Art, Cities, Oil Wells, Bugattis, etc., etc. They never did build a German Mark! God I will miss it so!

    I am starting to feel like Alex in "Goodbye Lenin"! This was our money! Veritable proof to Germans everywhere that Germany still existed and was alive and free.

    What are the plans for the rest of the twenty-first century? Probably sell BMW, Mercedes, and Volks-wagon to Renaullt. Write some books saying that Werner von Braun was an Alabaman, ban the reading of Martin Luther, adopt French as a language.

    To hell with the twenty-first century a thousand years from now the Wendish people in Serbin,Texas will still teach our children that we came from Germany, not Europe.

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  • 43. At 10:25pm on 30 Jan 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #42 politejomsviking

    Good Lord! Ethnic purity in a US community.

    My grandson is American, European, German, Scottish, English, Cherokee (and various bits of the former nations that preceded these labels).

    His parents and I are quite happy about that. He can decide his identity for himself.

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  • 44. At 10:31pm on 30 Jan 2009, busby2 wrote:

    #38 JorgeG1 wrote:

    "The question is not whether a straitjacket is better than a safety net or vice-versa, the real question is much more fundamental. It is the following:

    Does the UK want to be a FULL and EQUAL participant in the EU and the Single Market, or alternatively it prefers to a) keep its independent monetary policy and b) continue to police the intra-EU cross-border movements of people (mostly of its own citizens) coming to the UK".

    I think Mark asked the right question but, as you've changed the question, how about answering how Ireland (and all the other smaller members of the Euro Zone) are FULL and EQUAL participants in the Euro Zone when their influence on the interest policy of the ECB is not even a fraction of the influence of Germany????

    Isn't it abundantly clear that a few members are far more equal than others and whether the Euro Zone interest and exchange rates matches the interests of smaller member states of the Euro Zone is merely a matter of chance?

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  • 45. At 10:44pm on 30 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #42 - politejomsviking

    I am sure this is a stupid question but what an earth can you buy in Austin, Texas with DM that you can't get for dollars (or Eur come to that)? :-)

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  • 46. At 10:48pm on 30 Jan 2009, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Re 4: "If Greece had remained outside the euro, we'd have seen a swift devaluation of their currency enabling the country to remain competitive."

    Bonkers! The UK is outside the euro, it's facing a swift devaluation of its currency, with very low interest rates, yet it's struggling to keep exports afloat and its inflation is skyrocketing.

    The compete-by-devaluing is a thing of the past, and when it works it provides only short-term piecemeal solutions. I think the stability brought by the euro, makes consumers much more confident in the long run, and even countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland are benefiting more than they are losing. But only time can tell.

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  • 47. At 10:52pm on 30 Jan 2009, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Re 42: "To hell with the twenty-first century a thousand years from now the Wendish people in Serbin,Texas will still teach our children that we came from Germany, not Europe."

    And centuries from now Europeans will thank Texas, which is where we got rid of the wackos.

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  • 48. At 10:59pm on 30 Jan 2009, lacerniagigante wrote:

    The good thing about the UK not joining the euro, is that the eurosceps and their friends can't blame the euro for the sorry mess their country's in. Poor Gordo :-)

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  • 49. At 11:14pm on 30 Jan 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    I think that EURO...is part a safety net and also, has its strait-jacket issues....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 50. At 11:31pm on 30 Jan 2009, politejomsviking wrote:

    #45 Threnodio,

    Pride, you can not be proud of your own blood with a dollar or a Euro. When Germany was ruined in 1945 by the Godless, Austrian, Europa fanatic, what was the first ray of hope? The return of the Mark! The Mark was symbolic of a renewed and eternal Germany, with good Protestant values of hard work and honesty.

    I always kept Marks. To me it was real money, like the pound or the dollar. It was a symbol of national pride and the defeat of Communism.

    It was a return to what Count von Staufenburg would call Sacred Germany, the land of Bach & Bethoven, of Luther, of Baron von Stueben, of the translation of the Bible, of Automobies and Philosophers.

    Some how that is all disappearing and being replaced by a foreigner that will fix the toilet for less if you comit national suicide and call yourself a European.



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  • 51. At 11:45pm on 30 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    Jukka-Rohila41

    It's Minus 22 and dropping at this moment, so, I hope you are indoors!

    Quite agree the situation is not too bad in Finland and obviously membership of the EU has enabled Finland to access Europe and the world markets more equitably than was previously the case.

    However, I do not agree with your analysis of the causes and the measures needed to correct the present crisis. Whilst the basic mismanagement stems from the USA I am afraid that restructuring or moving out of the Bretton Woods/IMF protocols is not the way forward. The Dollar may be weak against some currencies at the moment, however, the idea the Euro could step in to its role is the economics of the gullible. That the World's still largest economy and still greatest single power could be relegated to a secondary economic role is just a fiscal-political impossibility.

    It may be that international trade valuations will pass into another currency in the next 20 to 30 years, but, if it does it will be the Yen. Although as the Republic of China takes on the full mantle of an industrialised modern economic power its propensity to suffer internal political-social upheaval similar to that of the 18th - 19th Century Europe and USA expedentially rises with each year.

    With regard to your optimism (e.g. EU can manage crisis.. countries don't have to use cut-throat methods) about the usefulness of the EU's collective approach is really just that, optimism. There is nothing and I do mean literally nothing that the EU does that a nation State could not do of its own accord more easily, faster and to greater effect within the national boundaries. I fully realise the EU is dazzling to many because it offers such enormous scope for compatible and integrated services at all levels of society. The EU attractions seem endless to vested interests: Almost all Politicians, EUrocrats and Businessmen are drawn to its seemingly golden opportunities to enjoy power, enjoy authority and enjoy profits. For the Judiciary and members of the Legal Professions that create and test every single piece of EU legislation it has become the opportunistic reality of their most wildly ambitious, avaricious dreams.

    I have left out of that list, the Citizen.

    Citizens have not even in their States, and given the logistics of the political process, will never have much voice in the Democracy that supposedly enfolds and imbues them with agreed Rights and Responsibilities. The EU offers far less in terms of accountability by the Politicians, EUrocrats and Businessmen for whom the collective of 27 makes everything very much easier to control and dutilise to their own venal ends. The Judiciary and Legal Professions of course thrive whether representing the EU, the State or the Citizen.

    Perhaps it is an out of date notion, but I still hold to it: Democracy is by, for and about the individual Citizens access to Rights and Responsibilities protected and served by Law devised by, for and about those individual Citizens.

    If Msr Barroso's Federal EU project is so good for everyone of us Citizens then why are those Citizens denied the right to a Referendum on membership?
    It is not acceptable and fundamentally UNDemocratic for the British Government, or any other EU National Government to say that the issues are too complex, or the possible ramifications too damaging for such Referenda to be held.

    Your pro-EU view (as I read in your earlier comments to Mr Mardell) may be the majority in Finland, but, there are 5 million Finn Citizens, 60 million British Citizens, 50 million French Citizens etc. and surely you would no more presume to speak for Finland anymore than I would for the UK?
    Yes, there are National Elections and nationally elected representatives as well as the MEPs. It is argued these elections are sufficient as anti and pro-EU candidates are certainly able to put themselves forward for election by the Citizens of each nation. If this is truly the argument of the pro-EU side it is at best a dubious assumption of the purpose of a Citizen's Democratic vote at National level and at worst a deliberate corruption of the same.

    Msr Barroso, rather like the Pontiff in Rome, is claiming that the EU is infallible in the quality of opportunity it offers the Citizen. In that case the recognition of the Democratic Right and Responsibility of every Citizen to be given the opportunity to express their support or otherwise for this collective of 27 is essential. Surely the Citizens' vote will reinforce his and your belief in the EU's validity?

    As the Great Depression appeared to be about to crush the USA in 1933 President Roosevelt addressed the American electorate and claimed, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."
    Do you have even the slightest belief that Msr Barosso could make the same claim were the European Citizens to be granted the Right and Responsibility of a Vote?


    Hyvaa Yota!

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  • 52. At 11:56pm on 30 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    lacerniagigante48

    "..good thing.. UK Eurosceps can't blame Euro.. mess UK in.."

    Funny, I have not read a Comment where any Euro-sceptic actually suggested that was the case?

    Mind you, I have yet to read a valid argument by any pro-EU to explain the mess the Euro-members are collectively in at the moment. Poor Barosso:-)

    Or, are you claiming the Euro-member nations have escaped the World Economic downturn and this modern soviet collective is thrusting dynamically forward like in one of those Stalinesque Posters with everyone joyously clapping the EU President as he drives the combine harvester through the cornfield!?

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  • 53. At 11:56pm on 30 Jan 2009, politejomsviking wrote:

    #43 OLDNAT,

    IF YOU DID NOT PASS ON THE CULTURAL VALUES THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO EACH OF THE GRANDSON'S ETHNIC GROUPS YOU HAVE ROBBED HIM OF HIS HERITAGE.

    That's not being an American that's being a Zombie. Please tell me that he is not being raised to think of himself as coming from Coca-Cola people or some televisions version of the Cherokee.

    Scarry! If you are intersted there are good Cherokee web sites. I watched a video on you tube that said of the 280 Native American Dialects, there are only 140 that still have a living speaker.

    Once your culture is gone, it's gone.

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  • 54. At 00:02am on 31 Jan 2009, politejomsviking wrote:

    #47 & 48

    There will always be an England long after the Gigantes of this world are gone. You no doubt will be proud to be called anything but what you are. So European it is.

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  • 55. At 00:28am on 31 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #46 - lacerniagigante
    You are trying to make a perfectly good point utterly invalidating it with two serious errors.

    Firstly, the low value of the pound is, in fact, making exports extremely competitive - if only there was someone out there with the resources to buy product. Second, inflation is not sky rocketing. It was 3.1% in December and there is a real possibility of deflation before all this is over.

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  • 56. At 01:06am on 31 Jan 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #53 politejomsviking

    Don't be silly. They're not "ethnic" groups. Cultures change over time. My nation (Scotland) was originally formed from the union of different nations - Picts, Scots, Britons, Angles, and later the Norse, English, Pakistanis, Sikhs, Chinese etc - even a few Americans I know, who are strong Scottish Nationalists. Each of these earlier nations were formed out of even earlier cultural identities.

    The majority of modern Scots (regardless of their DNA) feel themselves to be primarily Scottish (sometimes with another identity as well - as German-Americans do), but that's nothing to do with any imaginary "ethnicity".

    If we all reverted to our earliest "cultures", we'd be tracking our roots back to a particular hunter-gatherer group in the Paleolithic.

    Most of us have grown up and moved on. I'm quite happy to be both Scots and European. My grandson will decide for himself what his primary identity will be (probably American), but that's for him to decide.

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  • 57. At 04:14am on 31 Jan 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Does sharing a common currency with other nations mitigate financial and economic mismanagement? I don't think so. Disasterous mistakes will impact an economy no matter what its currency is.

    Is being a small nation a big disadvantage if you have your own currency? It hasn't seemed to hurt the Swiss by reason of that alone.

    The advantage of one currency is that you don't have to exchange paper money when you cross borders or figure exchange rates when you execute business deals across borders. But the price is giving up one of the major pillars of sovereignty, local control over one of the most vital instruments of economic policy. And that was the whole point, the creation of a unified superstate with the intent of challenging the United States. This notion of centralized control of money and everything else fits the European cultural ethic perfectly just as the Euro superstate does. And there seems to be unanimity among Europeans in its favor since there hasn't been a single serious challenge to it in any of the member states. Will that continue when times are tough and the ECB does not respond to all members in ways favorable to each of them because it can't? We'll see.

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  • 58. At 04:46am on 31 Jan 2009, pciii wrote:

    first of all, congratulations to posts #49 and #57.

    #49 summarises pretty well what most people seem to be saying - the Euro helped some countries before, but it may be a hinderance now.

    #57, well, it just mostly makes sense for a change, and avoids most of the usual quasi-racist or plain untrue stuff we usually get. Keep it up, maybe all that steak's helping.

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  • 59. At 04:56am on 31 Jan 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    Well said Oldnat

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  • 60. At 07:15am on 31 Jan 2009, Hibou wrote:

    What was the substance of this piece? Lots of hypothetical questions but no answers. The Euro is neither a safety net nor a straightjacket in the current economic crisis.

    Changes in interest rates appear to be of little help in a recession. The UK would have done poorly in or out of the Euro because of the importance of its financial and housing sectors.

    As Mr Mardell appears to reluctantly conclude, no country will withdraw, and more countries will join, even the UK after further volatility of the pound and the realisation that "UK monetary independence" is useless in practice.

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  • 61. At 08:20am on 31 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 46, Lacernia, whether the euro or sterling will be the best in this difficult economic times is a subject we can debate and argue about. However it does your case no good to use false hoods to try and talk sterling down.

    You say inflation is sky rocketting in the U.K. the facts are the consumer price index has come down from 4.1% in November to
    3.1 %. The retail price index has come down to 0.9%. As my previous post said, deflation is much more of a worry than inflation at this time.

    The fact you are so cavalier with facts does not help your case and wil have a tendency to make people dismiss your posts (in Mark's words) as 'nonsense'

    Latest on sterling, now over 1.13 euros. Sure it will continue to fluctuate but stories of it's demise have been a little overblown

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  • 62. At 08:55am on 31 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    51 Error:

    Apologies, I wrote 'Yen' when of course I meant write 'Yuan'.

    Well, it was nearly midnight!

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  • 63. At 09:21am on 31 Jan 2009, pciii wrote:

    ~60 Once the politicians have blown national budgets on stimuli packages, the interest rates are one of the few tools they have left - and those in the Euro zone don't have individual access to that tool. So in a sense, the Euro could be described as a straight jacket at this time.

    Only time will tell whether being released from the straight jacket is a good thing or only a means for self harm.

    One thing's for certain the die hard pro Euro's are beginning to sound as irrational as their opposing Euro-skeptics.

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  • 64. At 09:53am on 31 Jan 2009, alpinesnow wrote:

    As a person living in continental Europe, I sincerely hope that the UK will never join the Euro, and in fact, I absolutely agree with your europhobes that it would be much better to pull out of the EU altogether.

    Was has the UK's contribution to the EU really been? Ever? From the very beginning, the UK has tried to sabotage and delay every possible treaty or proposal. The European constitution would have been accepted years ago, if the UK hadn't started threatening with a referendum (another sabotage of course: everybody knows that people tend to vote against change and against any issue, if they don't understand it)

    The UK only wants to sharethe benefits, never the burden, and of course, they will only consider joining the Euro when their economy is in ruins. A last resort.
    Please UK, pull out of the EU altogether and let us move on. Everybody happy again. I'm also supportive of re-introducing travel visas and other trade barriers between the UK and oontinental Europe, as I'm suspect that on balance, it would be more beneficial to Europe (the continent, that is).

    And regarding Iceland: just make up your mind. 250,000 (?) people more in the Eurozone is really not of such great importance. Just don't expect the EU to pay off your debt and refund your bankrupt institutions, just for the "honour" and pleasure of welcoming another group of demanding europhobes in the union.

    How retarded do you think we are on the continent?

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  • 65. At 10:01am on 31 Jan 2009, Daquan Quartermaine wrote:

    Mark,

    You've made a (very clear and helpful) distinction of nations and their stance towards the euro. I would like to add a dimension to that, if I may. A strictly economic categorization of current euroland members.

    SMALL ECONOMIES
    1) Vulnerable open economies with large financial sectors. This category includes the Benelux and Finland, among others. These nations depend on foreign trade and their financial sectors are too big for their previous currencies to have been very helpful in the current crisis. They would all have suffered Iceland's fate and are therefore better off using the euro.
    2) Economies with a troubled (recent) past and a previously traditionally weak currency. Greece fits in this category. These economies have had to adapt to the euro because they previously relied on being able to deflate their own currencies when necessary. Although the euro has had a stabilizing effect on these economies and these nations are therefore probably better off using it, the situation is not as clear-cut as it is in the previous category.

    LARGE ECONOMIES
    1) Stable powerhouses. Or Germany, in effect. Germany has always thrived on a stable currency; it benefited both its financial and industrial sector. The euro is the Deutsche Mark in square. They are equally stable, but the euro is simply bigger and therefore more trustworthy and useful. It serves a bigger home base and is a significantly larger reserve currency. The Germans, therefore, have benefited from the euro and would almost certainly be worse off with out it.
    2) Mediterranean chaos-theory economies. Italy was made for this category (or the reverse, if you prefer). Italy's government finances are messy and the country has made use of deflating its currency time and time again to weather economic storms. We all laughed at the countless zeros on the Italian lira banknotes, but it worked as a currency. Italy is (or should I say was) an economic powerhouse and among the largest economies in the world. They, like Greece, have had to adapt to the euro's stability. They have partially succeeded in doing so but at this time, in the midst of a financial crisis, the process of adaptation hasn't been completed yet. As a result, Italy's euro membership could be explained as both a blessing and a curse.

    Where do other nations fit in? Sadly France and Spain, to name two examples, could be placed along with Germany or Italy depending on your stance. Personally I would place France in with Germany due to the (narrowly decisive) Germanic influences in its economic system. Spain, however, seems to fall into Italy's category.

    In other words; Spaniards arguing their nation would be better off without the euro may actually have a point. But a Dutchman arguing the same must surely be written off as a delusional chauvinist.

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  • 66. At 10:04am on 31 Jan 2009, NikolayTzvetkov wrote:

    SuperJulianR (32)
    And you haven’t even heard about Eastern Europe in the 90s. I remember both 1990-1991 in Bulgaria when we had coupons for bread, butter and so and I still had to go around 6 in the morning to substitute my mother who was in the queue from 3 a.m., and the winter 1996-1997 when we had such inflation that in February I was earning around 10 dollars a month (I was student then, so could not work full time). I think very few people are still alive that remember the Great Depression, which I guess offered similar miseries in the west. My grandmother that was teenage girl at the time used to tell me that it was really tough and essentially they subsisted on what they could produce themselves. So I assume the present crisis is nowhere nearly as bad. And I hope it won’t get anywhere near.

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  • 67. At 10:52am on 31 Jan 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Mark alluded to the fact that the Euro is primarily a political construct.

    The ceding of ownership, management and control over one's own sovereign currency is the key outcome of choosing to join a single EU currency.

    There may be valid monetary and financial reasons for wishing to join a single currency, but these are essentially secondary.

    Once a government has surrendered its currency and monetary independence to the ECB it will have made a further - and generally irrevocable step - along the road towards a federal supra-national super-state.

    National governments should be honest with themselves and their citizens about this.



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  • 68. At 12:09pm on 31 Jan 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    Let's remember that before Irish independence the UK was a monetary union of four distinct nations, economies and cultures. Even after Irish independence the punt was held at parity with the pound sterling for a long time. It worked. So we showed continental Europe the way forward with monetary union (not forgetting that Belgium and Luxembourg had their own as well).

    If the UK's anti-euro lobby would just be honest for a moment they'd acknowledge that they'd be perfectly happy to be in a Europe-wide monetary union if only those silly continentals had had the good sense to adopt the Pound Sterling.

    Some people claim that the dollar works across the whole USA only because it's a single economy. I fear that they're overlooking both the diversity of the economies (industries and salaries) of the various States and the degree of fiscal independence (State and local taxes) in each State. If the dollar can work within those parameters is there truly a reason why the euro cannot?

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  • 69. At 1:29pm on 31 Jan 2009, Alexandereski wrote:

    Nearly all the comments, and there are many intelligent and thoughtful posts here, focus on Currency as an enormous part of the EU, and wider life.

    Yet, if we had a common currency, conservatively managed, with both the enthusiasm, and 'brake' of a variety of views, then any ups and downs would be considerably reduced in impact.

    There's talk here in Russia of the Euro as a viable currency in the future. Not for immediate concerns, but as a discussion that's been going on for some time.

    Jukka made a great point about 'national' interference. And i believe he's right. When EU politicians have the best interests of the entire region as their priority, then they will by nature of intent make financial and budgetary decisions in their own countries with this in mind.

    I for one think the time has come to take an opportunity at this challenging time and do 2 things.

    Re visit, and build a new economic structure for the entire EU based on Currency, and economic 'ends' to means.' In other words, get currency back to a form of trade, and out of the hands of bankers, speculators, and self interested politicians. The idea of currency as a living entity that can grow and shrink, with manipulation by a few, does no one any good. However currency as a common means of exchanging the value of one type of goods or service for another, will prove useful, and end forever the massive ups and downs that reward so few, and hurt so many.

    Of course, in order to do this, we'd need to wrest control of currency, i.e., the euro from the hands of bankers, speculators, and politicians, who might seem somewhat reluctant to let go, given their fondness for profit accumulation.

    The Euro is a great idea, most Britons are too narrow minded to see the advantages for the future, it only remains to change the concept of debt, profit, speculation, and replace them with a simple means of exchange, and we can all go forward with more confidence for the future.

    The Euro, or any currency should only be a means of transaction, and not a device for creating 'fantasy' money in the form of debt, counterdebt, speculative financial practices, and the disaster that is 'print money for the sake of maintaining the practice of creating debt.'

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  • 70. At 1:36pm on 31 Jan 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    MaxSceptic

    you said

    "Once a government has surrendered its currency and monetary independence to the ECB it will have made a further - and generally irrevocable step - along the road towards a federal supra-national super-state.

    National governments should be honest with themselves and their citizens about this"

    We actually know this already? So?

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  • 71. At 1:41pm on 31 Jan 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    Joining the Euro is good as long as the ECB is not commanded by politicans.. that would disrupt the process.. and result in crisis.

    Everybody talks for new system, new rules, are the elites.. they bend in every direction.

    Bail outs will not work, nothing will work.. hope has died and with it the whole system.

    degrade is a word, will of ability is another

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  • 72. At 2:37pm on 31 Jan 2009, theoch wrote:

    Nigel, I have always felt that you see your job as a platform to sow discontent against the Euro, so that the latent (and sometimes not so latent) English fear of losing its identity will prevail. You've done this when the BBC was proclaiming to the rest of Europe how magnificent the UK economy was when people were getting home loans with no security, and you're doing it now again that the reality of the UK copying the US nutcase banking system, because the UK already lost most of its identity to the US a long time.

    Man, sometimes it's just sad.

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  • 73. At 2:40pm on 31 Jan 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    71. At 1:41pm on 31 Jan 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    "Joining the Euro is good as long as the ECB is not commanded by politicans.. that would disrupt the process.. and result in crisis. ..."

    The people who control it would be appointed by politicians. These would be political decisions at least in part. These political appointees would then be in power once elections had resulted in a change of governments. The system you propose is therefore undemocratic in my eyes and in the eyes of many Brits. My criticisms of it also apply to constitutional courts.

    IMUO the problem is not that it is political but that our voting systems are not working and are resulting in the wrong people getting into power.

    There is another problem for Brits (and I believe for the Swiss and Norwegians and others) . We "know" that there is much, much more corruption in other "EU" countries than in our own. Italy is a wonderful example. It is totally unacceptable to hand power over to organisations controlled in good part by people from countries with a tradition of corruption.

    I have been told that when Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese, British police forces would not employ police officers from Hong Kong because there had been so much corruption in the Hong Kong police.

    The same degree of care should have been applied to European politics. We should never have joined the Common Market and should leave the "EU" now.

    Some have criticised the fact that some people have continually posted the same ideas. One of those people seems to mean me. "EU"-integrationists continually post the same ideas and I am, at the very least, entitled to reply and intend to continue to do so.



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  • 74. At 2:47pm on 31 Jan 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    # 5. At 2:17pm on 30 Jan 2009, padav01 wrote:

    " ...

    For the Union to achieve its full potential, this compartmentalised mindset must eventually dissipate. That can only happen if a truly European arena of political discourse arises, where policy fields boasting exclusively European resonance are considered, debated and decided upon by political parties exhibiting correspondingly "European" credentials.

    This kind of "real" Europe can only come about if there is a fundamental reappraisal of individual areas of governmental activity; are Europeans best served by pooling their resources (and thus sovereignty) in the field of defence - I would argue (rationally) that it is. Conversely is it correct for Healthcare policy for the West Midlands to be largely dictated and managed from Whitehall, by faceless bureaucrats only interested in targets; I would argue that it isn?t?

    I realise these concepts represent a quantum leap forward from present thinking but Europe will never break free from the prevailing stranglehold exercised by the member states until this "Rubicon" moment is reached in the European public's disposition toward the idea of Europe."

    You mean a European superstate.

    Totally unacceptable:

    History, corruption, policing, character etc.

    We have this mess in part because the Brits were lied to to get us into the Common Market. We had a fundamentally different agenda from the majority of continentals. Get us out before the whole sick cocktail explodes.

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  • 75. At 3:14pm on 31 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    It seems that there is a common thread emerging with two sharply divided opinions. Karolina @ #71 wants "the ECB is not (to be) commanded by politicians" while Alex1658 @ 69 wants". . . (to)wrest control of currency, i.e., the euro from the hands of bankers, speculators, and politicians". (I am leaving aside for a moment those posters who want nothing to do with the euro).

    So who, precisely, is supposed to run the ECB. Theoretically, it is already an independent and antonymous organisation quite separate from the EU. However, so is the BOE supposed to be but we have seen how easily government can 'lean on it' and there is always the threat that a future administration could legislate to bring it back under government control.

    The problem is that it must be competently run by people who know what they are doing. There is understandable scepticism about the ability to do this and the desirability of political control is highly questionable. On the other hand, the ability of the present generation of bankers has very much come into question.

    So if you want an authoritative and effective institution, free of political interference and competent to manage a multinational currency and monetary policy, who is going to run it?

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  • 76. At 3:22pm on 31 Jan 2009, BernardVC wrote:

    Numerous people have mentioned the apparent advantage of devaluation to jumpstart a nation's exports.
    While that is of course nice it is also handy to mention that with devaluation an individual will suddenly be working the same hours (if not more) for 10-2-30-etc.% less money.

    Taken to extremes I'm quite sure the Zimbabwean exports -had they any left- would be quite cheap now on the international market, but theZimbabweans themselves can't do squat with their money anymore, despite maybe earning the same amount of their national currency.

    Then there's of course the problem of the export-minded nations: while the original crisis might have been a mainly anglo-saxon creation it's no longer an anglo-saxon product. Export-giants like Japan, Germany, China have to take a share in the blame, as they''re responsible for the national policies that promote export and depress consumption. Of course China has the added problem that it's property rights are quite rubbish.

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  • 77. At 3:59pm on 31 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 28, Jorge 51, you do go on about the U.K. not having 'true fredom of movement' in the E.U. because of it's failure to join Schengen.

    Again facts may help, depending on who you believe between 600,000 - 1.5 million E.U. citizens have come to work in the U.K. in the last 4 years. Partly because the U.K. were one of the few countries to welcome the new eastern european accession countries, while others closed their doors - so much for the U.K. preventing 'true freedom of movement'. If other countries had encompassed the 'true movement' ethos those new migrants would have been shared around better and less issues caused, the repercussions of which we are just seeing now.

    Yes the U.K. have border controls, it means I and other E.U. citiziens may have a 5-10 minute wait while their passport is checked. This does not prevent 'true freedom of movement of people', for me it is just common sense. It certainly has not stopped the thousands of E.U. citizens coming to work here. As we go into recession we are now starting to see a slow down in this migration.

    I have no objections to this influx of people, it is what the E.U. is all about, on the whole the new migrants are hard working people who have been welcomed here. But I do object to the hypocrisy of people saying the U.K. has not embraced freedom of movement, when many other countries in the recent past shut their markets off completely to the new acesion countries. Glass houses and stones seem to come to mind.

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  • 78. At 4:05pm on 31 Jan 2009, jon-jono wrote:

    Mark,

    This is a very interesting topic although I was somewhat disappointed that you did not cover it in more depth. Considering that there has been a lot of coverage of this recently (Economist, BBC, Guardian etc) I would have hoped for something new or at least a different perspective, perhaps this is something you are planning for your later piece?

    Do not let yourself be bullied into not having an opinion because it risks making your blog boring! As a journalist people expect you to be as impartial as possible and seek to cover both sides of an argument but in a blog, as in a comment piece, surely you should feel the freedom to speak your mind and present your opinions? It can still be achieved in a balanced manner from exploring the many angles of a discussion/argument. I realise that you often do/have outlined some of your thoughts but I also feel that you recently shy away from really drawing your own conclusions. I am sure many people, myself included, would find it deeply interesting to read your opinions considering your experience and authority in the subjects you cover.

    With regards to this post I thought you might be interested to know that Sweden is obliged to join the euro but has decided it will only do so when a referendum permits. The last referendum was in 2003 and the next referendum could not really be expected until after parliamentary elections are held, scheduled for the 3rd week of September 2010. The Social Democrats had previously said they would respect the referendum results until 2012 but they are now in opposition and under new leadership. It is possible that the discussions in Denmark (particularly if they lead to adoption of the single currency) as well as the Icelandic debate could lead to a greater debate in Sweden. Still it probably will not be a great issue in Swedish politics until either the next election or until the Baltic sea is surrounded by members.

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  • 79. At 4:27pm on 31 Jan 2009, frenchderek wrote:

    Too many posts proposing that the EU either is, or is attempting to become a superstate or a federal state. The Lisbon Treaty would mark a finite step AWAY from such an eventuality. There are very few federalists around now amongst national leader; and Barroso is no federalist either.

    And, ikamaskeip #51, one of the rationales for
    the creation of the EU was the the fact that European governments found themselves increasingly reliant on each other in trying to deal with increasing international trade. Add to that the now-widespread mobility of capital, the huge power of global corporations, etc, and you had (still have) a situation where individual nations felt the need for closer cooperation.

    However, alliances do not imply allegiance: one can always be let down by others in a simple alliance. The EU is much more. eg to deal with this latter uncertainty, and to ensure some stability the EU founders created an independent Commission and the European Court of Justice to "police" the union; to ensure that member states kept to the rules.

    The euro is both a straightjacket and a safety net, as others have said. It does not allow individual governments to manipulate their currency (eg by revaluation). However, governments have full freedom to make use of internal fiscal policy, providing they stay within the "stability pact" rules. Even this straightjacket is currently seen as flexible. (It could and should be more so). The fact that some countries (notably here, Greece) did not reform their fiscal and related policies shows, however, that this is not a wholly restraining straightjacket. Those countries are paying a higher price (eg in increased bond spreads).

    The ECB is deliberately highly independent of political authority and is expressly forbidden from taking instructions from any government. It's employment and other policies are distinct from EU policies. Sarkozy is said to have been furious that he could not "bend the ear" of Bank Governor Jean-Claude Trichet; and he has failed notably to get the ECB under any more EU control. The Eurogroup of Finance Ministers are also unhappy at having no control over the Bank (contrast the UK situation?). And yet the Bank"s Governing Council comprises ex national state central bankers!

    The EU and the ECB may not be perfect but they're a lot better than the alternative (eg Iceland).

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  • 80. At 5:14pm on 31 Jan 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Gheryando @68 and 70,

    Firstly, until 1922 the four nations of Great Britain were under a single, UK, government. A single currency was - and remains - appropriate.

    After independence, Ireland was a tiny, impoverished nation on the verges of Europe. It made sense for the punt to shadow the Pound, much as some small caribbean and Pacific island states shadow the US dollar.

    I wrote "Once a government has surrendered its currency and monetary independence to the ECB it will have made a further - and generally irrevocable step - along the road towards a federal supra-national super-state.

    National governments should be honest with themselves and their citizens about this"


    You commented: "We actually know this already? So?"

    Well, thank you for being honest about the final destination of the single currency and 'ever closer union'. The 'good and great' of our political classes, however, go to extreme lengths to deny this is the case.

    You really can't be insinuating they they are all lying?

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  • 81. At 5:23pm on 31 Jan 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Regarding an EU federal super-state:

    frenchderek @79 says it isn't the end destination of 'ever closer union'. Gheryando @70 accepts that it is ("We actually know this already? So?")

    Which one of these EUrophiles is correct?

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  • 82. At 5:24pm on 31 Jan 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ jordanbasset

    *Re post 28, Jorge 51, you do go on about the U.K. not having 'true fredom of movement' in the E.U. because of it's failure to join Schengen.*

    I do go on about this, yes and I think in view of your comment will continue to do so with even greater impetus. I think the issue of freedom of movement inside the EU is one of the most misunderstood concepts in this part of the world. At the risk of appearing arrogant, you, like almost everybody else, including HMG, confuse two completely different issues:

    - What you are talking about is freedom of movement of EU workers and EU nationals inside the EU. This existed before Schengen. With regards to new entrants into the EU (e.g. the 2004 and 2007 entrants) there is an optional transitional period of up to 7 years that pre-existing EU countries can apply. These transitional periods make total sense IMO, as they prevent a disorderly influx of workers from new EU entrants. This is explained fairly well here
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/up-against-basic-principle-of-eu-law-1520907.html although the article also confuses freedom of movement of EU nationals with freedom of movement of PEOPLE.

    - Another thing is freedom of movement of PEOPLE. Schengen, the Amsterdam Treaty and now the Lisbon Treaty go two steps further. First, freedom of movement inside the EU applies not just to EU nationals, but to PEOPLE, i.e. *human beings* whatever their nationality. Secondly, this kind of freedom of movement renders police border controls for intra-EU cross-border movements obsolete. This is from the LT:

    POLICIES ON BORDER CHECKS, ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION
    Article 62
    1. The Union shall develop a policy with a view to:
    (a) ensuring the absence of any controls on persons, whatever their nationality, when crossing internal borders;

    The UK interpretation of freedom of movement is basically stuck in the freedom of movement for EU nationals which results in the creation of two classes of citizens in the EU. The upper class, of EU nationals, and the underclass of legal residents in the EU from non-EU countries. These ones are denied freedom of movement inside the EU by the UKs refusal to apply this basic principle. Check this:

    House of Lords – March 2000 – UK participation in the Schengen acquis

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199900/ldselect/ldeucom/34/3402.htm#a9

    * 42. The Home Office subsequently provided estimates of the number of third country nationals legally resident in the UK who would continue to require visas to travel to the rest of the EU. Over a five-year period, from 1995-1999, the numbers affected have climbed from 770,000 (in 1996) to something just short of 1 million (in 1999). The numbers of third country nationals applying at British Diplomatic Posts in EU Member States for visas to travel to the UK are significantly smaller, ranging over the same period from 75,320 (in 1998) to 84,760 (in 1996)*

    Do you understand now what true freedom of movement means? Ask this 1m+ people that the UK gov has relegated to second class citizens inside the EU. I am married to one of them.

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  • 83. At 5:33pm on 31 Jan 2009, Conorworld wrote:

    I found your article and your report pretty interesting. I find it fascinating that there is talk about leaving the Euro in places such as Greece.

    One of the best aspects of the Euro is that it is one currency for all. One of the hoped-for products of the single currency was that without the ability to devalue a nation's individual currency it would force internal reform of the individual domestic countries. Countries like Italy and Greece were infamous for taking this route of economic laziness. Without facing the fact that there is the need for fundamental reform domestically they just devalued their currencies.

    Thankfully this option is gone. The Euro was born in an era of a benign, borderline neutral growth rates in many of the countries involved. Coupled with a reduction in the ECB rate at the beginning many countries were led into a false sense of complacency. In my home country of Ireland this led to rampant speculation. In places like Italy and Greece the currency stability (and let us not forget the Euro was dropping continuously up to about 2003) made them put structural reform to the back of their minds.

    Now with the economic crisis they talk is of leaving. It is the same lazy not-making-the-hard-decisions attitude that led to pre-Euro devaluation. I think that the time is now to make those fundamental structural changes in many countries. It will be harsh but it is better off done in the Eurozone. These people are probably hoping that speculationof leaving will reduce the value of the Euro too so it would be like a devaluation anyway!

    Reform is possible and Germany under the Hartz IV reforms showed it is possible. In Ireland we are FINALLY coming to terms with our reduced competitiveness and are talking of mandatory wage cuts in the public and private sector. It is always easy to say it would be easier to do these things in time of plenty but those times cause complacency so at such an economic crisis where it is global it might be the best time. Saying everyone else is just as bad might push people to move.

    Furthermore we talk about Iceland and the UK and it was mentioned here with the Polish zloty. Just think what economic chaos there would have been if every nation had their own currency. We would have Icelandic economic chaos in nations such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland etc while the old safe haven of the Deutschmark would have gone the way the yen is now and strengthened massively thus bleeding export-dominated Germany dry.

    Simply put the Euro is a very good thing in these bad times and also in good. Speculation of leaving is expected. But of these countries looking for leaving, ones which have shied away from major structural reforms in the past and thus taken the easy route out in many economic crises would probably realize that the costs would be much more if they left.

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  • 84. At 5:39pm on 31 Jan 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    'true hard work' - ECB - *value* should be backed by souls and minds.
    If there is no mind there is no value, but things exist even without a value.
    if there is no trust, if trust is broken.. the system is broken..
    empires have fallen not because of wars, but because of economics, and weakness..


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  • 85. At 6:11pm on 31 Jan 2009, Michael Walsh wrote:

    42 - I've never thought Americans were that strong on geography and this doesn't change my mind!

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  • 86. At 6:12pm on 31 Jan 2009, Padav wrote:

    SuffolkBoy2: "You mean a European superstate"

    SuffolkBoy2 - you'll have to define precisely what you mean by "superstate" in this context. Whilst you're at it, you might add in your interpretation of the word "federal" because it is routinely conflated with this concept (MaxSceptic wrote: "Regarding an EU federal super-state").

    I'm interested in understanding the rationale supporting your rejection of this idea.

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  • 87. At 6:24pm on 31 Jan 2009, phoenix wrote:

    Suffolkboy2 post 74

    "Totally unacceptable:

    History, corruption, policing, character etc...
    We had a fundamentally different agenda from the majority of continentals. Get us out before the whole sick cocktail explodes."

    Ha ha ha , just priceless. So many Europhobics drum out the tired old line of "we dont mind europeans we just hate the EU", but you can easily see what is implied when the outbursts get going.This is hilarious!Post after post we see their barely held contempt for johnny foreigner spill out accidentally, namely that the EU is corrupt and unworthy and unworkable with the implication of it being so BECAUSE it is run by continental europeans.

    I mean the caricature that many europeans have of the french being arrogant is nothing to this... al least they accept in principle that all men are equal.

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  • 88. At 7:01pm on 31 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Jorge, re post 82, we fundamentally disagree. Freedom of movement for me is about E.U. nationals, if a country wishes to invite other nationals into their country (as Britian does), good they can work and live in that country. That should not give them the automatic right to work in another E.U. country. But of course they can apply in the normal way. If a group of E.U. countries want to lift that restriction, again fine, just do not impose it on anything else. I repreat when the U.K. joined the E.E.C. it was about freedom of movement of E.U. Nationals, not the whole world.

    You say you are married to one, surely she should be able to apply for citizenship (subject to tests the marriage is not one of convenience- which I am sure it is not) and so become eligible for freedom of movement?

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  • 89. At 7:11pm on 31 Jan 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Jorge, further to my post at 88, you do not seem to mind relegating the new accession countries citizens to being second class for 7 years. But then I suppose you are not married to one of those citizens, so to be fair they do not count.

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  • 90. At 7:16pm on 31 Jan 2009, dedalo wrote:

    just one thing about comment 65. I've been living in Spain for a long time now and I can tell you that no one is talking about leaving the euro here. It looks like the only ones talking about the euro are you guys.

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  • 91. At 7:59pm on 31 Jan 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    Jordanbasset, indeed we fundamentally disagree.

    Freedom of movement of people is just that, FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF PEOPLE, not selective and policed free movement for EU nationals but for people who don’t hold the right passport. We don’t have to agree on that, it is just that you, and the UK intelligentsia (i.e. the Oxbridge clique that rules British politics) keep inappropriately using the term freedom of movement of people, when what they are talking about is border-police-controlled free movement for EU nationals and workers.

    Also, FYI, with Schengen or without Schengen, third country nationals have NO freedom of residence or work in any EU country other than the one in which they have legal residence. They just have *freedom of movement* across the EU. What is so difficult to understand about this? Why do you keep confusing freedom of movement, with freedom of work and freedom of residence? Do you need a dictionary?

    I am not relegating new accession countries to being second class for 7 years. To me, the transitional periods are just basic common sense but on that we obviously disagree. But also, as you obviously don’t know, HMG, given the popular backlash about the Polish Plumber syndrome, has NOT opened the door to 2007 entrants Rumania and Bulgaria, so you cannot put the UK now in the virtuous group of *we apply freedom of movement but no one else does*. And HMG did not open the door from day one to the 2004 entrants out of being a virtuous EU member. It did it IMO out of a backhanded whitening agenda as, *coincidentally* at the same time it closed the door to or severely restricted traditional sources of cheap labour for the UK, e.g. the Caribbean.

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  • 92. At 8:05pm on 31 Jan 2009, JB wrote:

    #90, dedalo:

    "just one thing about comment 65. I've been living in Spain for a long time now"

    Me too

    ".... and I can tell you that no one is talking about leaving the euro here. It looks like the only ones talking about the euro are you guys."

    I can only agree with dedalo.

    At the time the Euro was formed I think the GBP was worth about 1.80. I'm afraid the UK has missed the train on this.

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  • 93. At 8:34pm on 31 Jan 2009, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Re 52: 52. At 11:56pm on 30 Jan 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    > Funny, I have not read a
    > Comment where any Euro-sceptic
    > actually suggested that was the
    > case?

    You sure? I read many posts here attributing most evils in the UK to it being a member of the EU, needing to renegotiate relationship, stop funding pigs, etc. And this is with the UK out of the common currency.

    > Mind you, I have yet to read a
    > valid argument by any pro-EU to
    > explain the mess the
    > Euro-members are collectively in
    > at the moment.

    I'm pro-EU (not fanatically though) and I can explain it to you: the whole world is facing a meltdown and the EU happens to be part of the world.

    > Poor Barosso:-)

    Poor bloke indeed, his name gets misspelled continuously ;-)

    > Or, are you claiming the
    > Euro-member nations have
    > escaped the World Economic
    > downturn and this modern soviet
    > collective is thrusting dynamically
    > forward like in one of those
    > Stalinesque Posters with
    > everyone joyously clapping the
    > EU President as he drives the
    > combine harvester through the
    > cornfield!?

    Never claimed that. Nonetheless your post brings in memories from the late eighties when the Leningrad Cowboys Went America. I have a weak spot for Kaurismäki, Paasilinna (my turn to misspell now :-) and I find the Finnish humour has a very cutting edge. It would be funny to see Vaclav Klaus (one the few remaining leaders to still sport a Stalin-Saddam moustache) in a combine harverster.

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  • 94. At 8:38pm on 31 Jan 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    Jordanbasset, whether you and I disagree on the principle of freedom of movement inside the EU is by the by.

    The problem is that the UK disagrees with all other EU and EEA members bar none, leaving the UK in a minority of one as interpreting the concept of *freedom of movement* as per your comment no 88, i.e. applying only to EU nationals and subject to border police controls (which include scanning your passport and storing it in a Home Office database, so much for *freedom of movement*)

    This is why I have brought this issue into this debate about the euro. To me the euro and Schengen are two different pillars of the same thing: the Single Market, even if Schengen goes well beyond that. But what is interesting is that while in the case of the euro the UK has three opt-out travel companions inside the EU, on Schengen it has none. And before anybody mentions Ireland, this country has only opted out as a consequence of the UK opt-out, this is widely known and specifically stated in the Amsterdam Treaty.

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  • 95. At 8:39pm on 31 Jan 2009, kikotheoneandonly wrote:

    This world should be far more unified than what it is today.

    Instead of a single European currency, we should have a single currency uniting Europe, North America and, perhaps, Japan. Instead of a Federal Reserve, a European Central Bank and a Bank of Japan, we should have a sort of World Currency Bank.

    To opt-out of a unified market and/or currency for the sake of the antiquity and history of a given currency is no more than an absurd anachronism and a short-sighted nationalism. Was the german mark or the french franc less historic than the british pound sterling? Are the heads in the Bank of England more intelligent than those that dwell within the corridors of the ECB?

    As for what I'm concerned, Britain could just quit the EU instead of continuously opting-out of everything, while still claiming the so-called "British Cheque" which is nothing less than offensive for most Europeans who are aware of its existence. If Britain wants to remain proudly alone and become more and more a USA vassal instead of a European leader, well this is up to Britons themselves and Her Majesty's Government. Just stop stalking EU's advance and solidification.

    Iceland, who stood proud and alone for years is now rushing everything in order to join the EU and the Eurozone, while Denmark is preparing a referendum on the Euro subject after witnessing the rescue of its once proud Central Bank by the ECB. Sweden will shortly follow after years of failing to reach the necessary criteria and doing that on purpose.

    I just hope that we will have a unified worldwide currency, commodity market, stock market and central bank. This would make speculation a lot harder and protection methods a lot stronger.

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  • 96. At 10:46pm on 31 Jan 2009, pciii wrote:

    #87, Ford Mondeo (interesting name btw): your attempts to dismiss Euro-skeptics in this way do nothing for your case - you actually start to sound arrogant and conceited just as those you are trying to expose do.

    People have genuine concerns about corruption - not because of racism but because they've seen it happen (true it happens at home as well but it's somewhat easier to kick out a domestic government at the next election).

    It's also wrong to imply that it's the UK that consistently drags it's heels on issues and principles within the EU - if anything we seem to have a rather more honest approach of adopting EU decisions to the letter or opting out - rather than bringing in legislation and ignoring it.

    The point is that in a debate about the Euro (and whether UK should adopt it) there are genuine economic arguments on both sides. That for the skeptics, the perceived national identity of a domestic currency is also part of the debate does not invalidate these other arguments.

    The current climate looks like it will provide a good test for many of these arguments. Maybe in two years time we'll be dearly wishing we'd joined up, maybe Greece will be wishing it hadn't...it's going to be interesting and potentially scary!

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  • 97. At 11:02pm on 31 Jan 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Just to be clear about the question of freedom of movement, those who have pointed out that there is freedom of movement between mainland Europe and the UK, you are correct up to a point. It roughly equates to being allowed to cross between Oxfordshire and Berkshire providing your documents are in order, you are not wanted for questioning in Surrey and you have an hour to spare queuing for some jobsworth to give you a funny look and say 'Welcome to Britain? Sir' with what little sincerity he/she can muster.

    My idea of freedom of movement is not really noticing that you have crossed a border until someone speaks to you in a different language. If the present arrangements for the UK are an irritant for EU visitors, imagine what is like for Brits. I need permission to enter my own country? Get out of here!

    This is control freakery of the worst kind driven by a populist approach to politics. Either that or an open admission that the UK and Ireland are the only countries in the EU and beyond whose national security is not up to muster.

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  • 98. At 11:10pm on 31 Jan 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #97 threnodio

    Tut Tut!

    Don't you realise that there have never been any terrorists within the UK and Ireland?

    The IRA and UDA were all American, and the jihadist attacks were only conducted by FOREIGNERS!

    :-)

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  • 99. At 00:48am on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    97. threnodio:

    "My idea of freedom of movement is not really noticing that you have crossed a border until someone speaks to you in a different language. If the present arrangements for the UK are an irritant for EU visitors, imagine what is like for Brits. I need permission to enter my own country? Get out of here!"

    I wonder if you've heard that HMG is shortly to introduce passport control WITHIN the UK. It will operate between Northern Ireland and Great Britain (i.e. Scotland, England and Wales).

    At the same time the UK/Ireland Common Travel Area will cease and for the first time passports will be required to travel between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. Amusingly (insultingly?) passport control will not be introduced between Northern Ireland (UK) and the Republic of Ireland.

    I suppose it's the sort of thing that'll keep the likes of SuffolkBoy happy.

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  • 100. At 01:18am on 01 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #99 greypolyglot

    I was unutterably depressed when I first heard of that proposal. Interestingly, during the "Troubles" no UK Government suggested such an approach.

    It says a lot about the paranoia of the current lot.

    It's certainly going to cause problems for the large number of Rangers and Celtic supporters who cross from the Republic and Northern Ireland to Stranraer and Troon every Saturday!

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  • 101. At 03:47am on 01 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    @ Max Sceptic

    It doesn't matter who is right about the future. What is clear is that the Euro has been a success and is not about to disappear. What it also has shown us is that cooperation and integration are the way forward in a world where you have to have a population of several hundred million (some have billions) to succeed and not be bullied. Integration started out to save ourselves from ourselves. Now its becoming a way to save ourselves from the outsiders.

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  • 102. At 05:19am on 01 Feb 2009, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    Clearly the EU member states are not capable of managing their own currencies. Have they ever done it before? They need the expertise of the ECB to take the responsibility for them. And look at how successful the ECB has been. Europe so prosperous and its finances so healthy. And if one or two small nations get in trouble, there is that safety net where the other countries will come to their rescue with lots of Euros. How fortunate that the ECB has been able to keep the EU competitive and free of the financial problems facing the rest of the world. And they have been so open and transparent about it too. Books in order right down to the last cent.

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  • 103. At 08:04am on 01 Feb 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Jorge, yes I am aware that the U.K. fell into line with other E.U. members in relation to the latest tranche of accession countries. The U.K. tried to be a good E.U. member and got it's fingers badly burned when other E.U. members closed their doors on the previous group of accession countries. Still at least the U.K tried, let down by other E.U. countries. Still believe this decision of established E.U. countries was wrong and did leave a sense of bitternes in those accession countries that were treated so shabbily over this matter.

    As to border controls, I again have no problem with them and can honestly say I have never had to wait longer thn 15 minutes at passport control. You do wait signifcantly longer at any european airport re searches etc

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  • 104. At 10:03am on 01 Feb 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    As the GB Pound Sterling moves ever more close to parity with the Euro currency has anyone ever considered that the reason that the UK deliberately adjourned adopting the Euro was that the UK currency was known by the UK politicians, economists and bankers to be too highly rated and artificially over-valued at the time.

    Is it possible that with an economy that has had a tremendous reliance on services and banking for income and less reliance on agriculture and manufacturing that the reality was that the UK economy was going to suffer this meltdown sooner or later - due to the high level of public and private debt - regardless of the trigger being a global financial credit crunch or some other mechanism that would have eventually exposed the British economiy as being smoke and mirrors.

    It is assumed that Gordon Brown issued his 5 economic criteria as being necessary to be met for the UK to consider joining the Euro with an overriding 'get-out' clause of "when the time is right" for domestic consumption. Is it not more true to say that the UK economy was fundamentally so weak and that the people 'in the know' knew that the UK joining the Euro would have been a potential disaster for both the UK and the 15 (now 16) Euro countries.

    Is not the reality such that the UK could not now meet the Euro entry criteria and, dare I say, that the UK has actually got to go through the troubles of the Iceland economy and suffer the rigours of public unrest and change of governance together with a whole new economic vision before the UK could even consider asking for the adoption of the Euro.

    Is this scenario, in itself, not a reflection on the benefits of the Euro compared to the Pound Sterling?

    The fact is that, in my heart, I know that the British (with their conservative outlook on life) will cling to the Pound until the British Isles disappear beneath the waves of the Atlantic and North Sea and vanish from sight . . . just as perceived in that well-written about Czech EU Art piece we discussed a few days ago.

    We already see that Debt has been the root cause of the UK being likely to suffer the most from this current global depression yet the British Governments response to this calamity is to increase our national debt - just as if it were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul who already has umpteen credit cards stacked up to the hilt, a huge bank loan and a mortgage larger than the value of his house - just like Peter.

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  • 105. At 10:32am on 01 Feb 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Jorge, re post 91, this will be my last post on freedom of movement on this thread. I appreciate I am unlikely to get much support for my viewpoint as I am in favour of the E.U. and freedo of movement (so will upset those who wish to leave the E.U.) and against the U.K. adopting schengen (so will upset those on the other side of the argument. Still being an individual does appeal to me.

    I understand perfectly when you say schengen allows freedom of movement, not necesarily the right to residence and work However in the U.K. ( I daresay other countries as well) we do have a thriving black market. A number of people who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visits do work in this balck economy for les than the minimum wage and in very poor conditions. The adoption of schengen will only contribute to that. You may be aware there are one or two people in Noerthern France ho have tried desperately to get into the U.K. in recent years (stowing aboard lorries etc).

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  • 106. At 10:47am on 01 Feb 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Jorge, re post 91, this will be my last post on freedom of movement on this thread. I appreciate I am unlikely to get much support for my viewpoint as I am in favour of the E.U. and freedom of movement (so will upset those who wish to leave the E.U.) and against the U.K. adopting schengen (so will upset those on the other side of the argument). Still being an individual does appeal to me.

    I understand perfectly when you say schengen allows freedom of movement, not necesarily the right to residence and work However in the U.K. ( I daresay other countries as well) we do have a thriving black market. A number of people who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visits do work in this black economy for less than the minimum wage and in very poor conditions. The adoption of schengen will only contribute to that.

    You may be aware there are one or two people in Noerthern France (refugees, asylum seekers, economic migrants etc)who have tried desperately to get into the U.K. in recent years (stowing aboard lorries etc). I have no idea why they want to leave France, who are apparently doing so well, to come to such a poor and economically depressed area as the U.K. - go figure. However, while you may be right and such people may just want to visit Shakespeare's birthplace and Big Ben and then go home to Calais etc , I have my doubts. I do think they may want to stay and work in the U.K. Don't get me wrong, I do think the U.K. should take it's share of such people, but not the large numbers that adopting schengen would result in.

    I know the U.K. is far fom perfect but I do object to the villifying it by some as the only problem child in the E.U., other countries can and regularly do operate in self interest at the expense of the E.U.

    A little balance would help. The U.K. has worked hard to challenge and deal with racism and do not think slurs such as the U.K. is adopting 'a whitening agenda' accurate or useful in this debate. Again do you think other E.U. countries are so perfect in this area, (pot/kettle/black). As I said this is my last post on freedom of movement on this thread as I do not want it to deteriorate into something altogether uglier.

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  • 107. At 11:15am on 01 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #98 - oldnat

    Yes and I suppose those pesky ETA people are Japanese. If the rest ofEurope can cope, so can the UK.

    #105 - jordanbasset

    Schengen has completely the opposite effect JB. The rights it provides means that member citizens do not have to disappear into the black economy. They are where they are perfectly lawfully and can pursue their lives with transparency. This is the whole point.

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  • 108. At 11:31am on 01 Feb 2009, pciii wrote:

    #104, I'm not sure if the British are quite so conservative (small c) as you stereotype them to be - massive personal debt doesn't sound too conservative to me.

    I can see the point you're trying to make, the flip side would of course to be point out that having economies based on subsidised agriculture or unsustainable manufacturing might not exactly be a realistic long term option. Sort of smoke and mirrors versus the "the la la I'm not listening" approach.

    Who knows though, if things continue the way they are, maybe we'll all be growing our own food and weaving our own cloth....

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  • 109. At 11:31am on 01 Feb 2009, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 107,threnodio, promise this is my last, I was replying to Jorge's post at 91, in relation to his comments that non E.U. nationals have freedom of movement under schengen, but not the right to work and residence in the country they are visiting. Suggest you take it up with him?

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  • 110. At 11:42am on 01 Feb 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    threnodio (107)

    But were the Schengen protocols to be enacted for the UK and absolutely free movement/no borders be implemented by the UK what would happen to the thousands of would-be immigrants loitering on the south bank of the English Channel where there is a country 5 times the size of the UK but with a now smaller total population?

    These would-be immigrants would simply enter the UK without any controls and they would adopt low-paid jobs, work their fingers to the bone in sweatshops and in factories or farms where they get paid less than the minimum wage or otherwise be badly mistreated by the horrible British.

    Or, perhaps do these people enter the UK for other reasons such as a cradle-to-grave welfare system that as good as rewards being unemployed through determined laziness or feigned ill-health, provides free health care and can even provide a free roof over one's head in a house valued far in excess of the expectations of the average tax-payer.

    The reality is, until the UK becomes more like France or Germany or any other European/EU country where no immigrant feels that they would be better off in one country compared to another, then the UK, which is already the most densely popullated country within Europe has to somehow stop anyone entering the country without permission - if that means a 15 minute delay for passport checking at all UK ports of entry and rigourous border controls then Schengen will simply have to be delayed.

    Yes, it is Britain being slow to adopt Schengen but miracles cannot be performed overnight and making Britain the same as France and Germany or other EU/European Nations (who do not have the population density issues the UK has!) will take quite a while!

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  • 111. At 12:58pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    110. Menedemus:

    "But were the Schengen protocols to be enacted for the UK and absolutely free movement/no borders be implemented by the UK what would happen to the thousands of would-be immigrants loitering on the south bank of the English Channel where there is a country 5 times the size of the UK but with a now smaller total population?"

    If you look up the data on the numbers of asylum seekers and economic migrants settling in continental EU countries you'll see that they're not all headed to the UK.

    However, as for those who want to cherry-pick and head for the UK instead of stopping at the first civilised place of safety you might ask why they would prefer the UK. Might I be right in thinking that we're now paying the penalty for all that bragging that's been done in the past about how pay, social security and life in general is "so much better in the UK than in other countries"? Have we (not me) brought it upon ourselves?

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  • 112. At 1:44pm on 01 Feb 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    greypolyglot @ 111

    Yes, indeed, the UK (not you, not me, but the majority of its citizens I dare say) has bought into the canard that the UK is the ideal country with the best quality of life and standards of living of any country in the world.

    But it is all smoke and mirrors.

    The truth is probably 60+ percent of jobs within the UK are government (national and local) created and funded. These jobs are not real jobs that contribute to GDP but simply jobs created at the expense of taxation to keep people in employment and hide the fact that the UK is a "basket case" when it comes to generating real wealth.

    The fact is that the collapse of the banking system within the UK means that the reality of life in Britain is about to become very gruesome indeed. Much of the source of taxation from which successive post-1945 governments have milked to fund the liberal-socialist never-neverland that is called the United Kingdom will disappear in the next few years. This taxation source will disappear as fast as the smoke that the British Establishment have used, with mirrors, to promote the idea that the United Kingdom has been somehow superior than any other European nation since the years when it was "the sick man of Europe."

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  • 113. At 2:50pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    "112. Menedemus:

    the reality of life in Britain is about to become very gruesome indeed. "

    I fear that you have it right. Fortunately, I am well equipped to follow Mandelson's advice and work elsewhere in Europe.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/you-can-go-and-work-in-europe-mandelson-tells-strikers-1522527.html

    Sadly, thanks to HMG's poor record on language teaching, I'm part of a very small minority. (and I don't mean just today's HMG)

    I don't imagine that there are very many unemployed polyglot refinery workers in Lincolnshire.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/humber/7859800.stm

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  • 114. At 2:58pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    # 100.oldnat:

    "It (passport control) is certainly going to cause problems for the large number of Rangers and Celtic supporters who cross from the Republic and Northern Ireland to Stranraer and Troon every Saturday!"


    Hm. Well I suppose maybe it's true that every cloud has a silver lining. ;-)

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  • 115. At 3:44pm on 01 Feb 2009, ClaireDK wrote:

    The Danish PM said that there will be a referendum on Euro next Autumn, let's hope the Danes this time will be vote for Euro, not like in 2000 where the majority turned down euro. As a member of EU, there is no good to keep using DKK neither for big business nor for single family.

    To strengthen Euro there should be more countries to use this currency, isn't it?

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  • 116. At 3:58pm on 01 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    113. At 2:50pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " ... Fortunately, I am well equipped to follow Mandelson's advice and work elsewhere in Europe. ..."

    That is not always easy.

    I went to teach in German schools before the UK joined the Common Market and my qualifications were accepted. There was a shortage of teachers in German and they had been employing unqualified housewives. Once we were inside and there were enough German teachers, they stopped recognising British qualifications.

    I had a good boss who very selfishly dropped dead. Here an excerpt from a conversation with my new boss(NB):

    NB: "You haven't got any qualifications."

    SB: "Excuse me! I have two qualifications from British universities."

    NB: "You haven't got any German qualifications."

    I started getting the list of available jobs from the local jobs centre. About one third of those jobs said "Only Germans" and this was in 1982 or 83 when things were not that bad.

    Some more examples of discrimination in Germany:

    Religion. I knew people who worked for a very large company in Germany which used to have branches in the UK. I was told that in Germany they would only employ Catholics. They had religious meetings after working hours and employees were expected to go. They did not do this in the UK. How may Brits are Catholics?

    Saarland. A teacher with whom I worked on the Dutch border wanted to get a job in his home state of the Saarland. He told me that they would only employ people from their own state. So if they were prepared to discriminate against people from other parts of Germany how much more would they discriminate against Brits?


    The Party Book. This is something of which I suspect very few Brits are aware. It applies to Austria as well as to Germany. I have been told several times by Germans and Austrians that if you wish to get a job as say a teacher in a Socialist/Conservative controlled area you have to be a member of the ruling party and have a Party Book.

    Discrimination against Brits on the continent: At a certain adult education college there were people whose job it was to further contacts with Europe. Two of them told me that within the European Commission, they were so fed up with the Brits that they would discriminate against the Brits when they had grants to distribute. One of these people was fervently pro-"EU". The other less so. I put this to a German couple. The wife said they should discriminate against Brits because of the opposition to the "EU" in the UK. I said something like "What? Against all Brits whether pro- or anti-'EU'? " To which the wife replied "Yes!" To be fair, the husband was outraged but not surprised. A sample of two is not very large and it certainly wasn't a random sample but it does make it seem possible that this attitude is widespread.



    I do not claim that there is no discrimination in the UK. I have some examples from personal experience in particular relating to age. If they apply age discrimination on the continent like they do in the UK, then many of those refinery workers will be out of luck. Age discrimination in the UK starts at about 39 or 40 at the latest.

    However my experience suggests that there is less discrimination in the UK than in Germany. I should also add that I have been treated very well by a lot of people in Germany.

    The voting for the Eurovision song contest seemed to be an amazing demonstration of discrimination on the continent.

    I suggest, that if those refinery workers are gong to move that they should try Canada.

    I suggest that the streets of England are frequently very dirty and that Mr. Mandelson could make a better contribution to this country by being a street cleaner.


    As regards Greypolyglots comments about language teaching in schools, I fear he is right. I was doing supply teaching in British schools some years ago and the standard was unbelievably low. Many of the teachers had excellent German accents but some had awful accents and the one thing the kids did understand was that.

    I suggest that language teaching should spend much more time concentrating on comprehension and put that first and work on active skills after that.








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  • 117. At 4:01pm on 01 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    115. At 3:44pm on 01 Feb 2009, ClaireDK wrote:

    "The Danish PM said that there will be a referendum on Euro next Autumn, let's hope the Danes this time will be vote for Euro, ...

    To strengthen Euro there should be more countries to use this currency, isn't it?"

    No!

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  • 118. At 4:11pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    116. SuffolkBoy2:

    "As regards Greypolyglots comments about language teaching in schools, I fear he is right."

    I nearly fell off my chair! SB2 agreed with GP about something. Wonders will never cease! ;-)

    "I suggest that language teaching should spend much more time concentrating on comprehension and put that first and work on active skills after that."

    Agreed. Look at that, I'm reciprocating! And might we also agree that you can't really learn a foreign language until you've mastered the grammar of your own?






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  • 119. At 4:18pm on 01 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 120. At 4:42pm on 01 Feb 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    lacerniagigante 48 and 93

    Yes, I am quite sure.

    As per usual for the pro-EU brigade you simply move the goalposts or omit to notice the pertinent facts.

    In your Comment48 you specifically referred to the EURO, not the EU, and I pointed out anti-EU such as myself had never blamed the Euro as it was not UK currency.

    However, it is absoutely the case anti-EU stalwarts like myself have and do attribute many UK issues-concerns-difficulties directly to EU Membership. We do so because it is so patently obvious to the huge majority of UK Citizens, and even more so to Citizens of England, that there is virtually no Electoral Mandate for any aspect of EU Regulation and Law to apply to this Island State. In 1975 I voted 'For' joining the 'Common Market': Yes, I understood the argument that 'togetherness' in Trade brought Economic stability and would help to preserve the peace so costly bought by my parents' generation. Like almost 75% of Britons I was pleased to see a Paris-Berlin-Rome axis as opposed to their disastrous previous 100 years of hostility in which Britons, Americans and Colonial forces always spilled blood to settle issues. I did not vote 'For' Fiscal-Industrial-Social-Judicial-Military annexation of the UK by the EUrotocracy of Brussels.

    Beg to differ on the implication of your critical Comment48 on the "mess" in the UK: You were implying EU is different. Glad in 93 you acknowledge the "mess" is Europe-wide and neither Pound nor Euro has made much chnage to that sorry state of affairs.

    Meanwhile, I have to say I agree on Finnish humour; but, the Poster scenario was an attempt on my part to draw a parallel between the modern day soviet-EU and the 1930s Soviet Union as so much of EU statistics-pronouncements = symbolic propaganda. The calculated distortion of the reality of life for the 2009-EU Citizens, as for the 1939-Russian Peasants.

    Vaclav's headache was indeed solved by a finnish doctor: Unfortunately, the egregious EU is the UK Citizens' headache. The enforced membership of an institution they are fully aware is a threat to nearly 1,500 years of Freedom under a Parliament of Britons elected by Britons for Britons.

    I wish Europeans and the EU no ill-will at all; I merely wish for my English birthright of self-determination, fought and paid for by countless generations, to be returned in full measure. Nothing more is required and I assure you nothing less will ever be sufficient.

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  • 121. At 4:46pm on 01 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #110 - Menedemus

    I can meet you some of the way. It is the case that English is so widely spoken globally that it will be the European destination of choice for many potential non-European immigrants. It is also the case that, because there has been mass migration from all parts of the world since 1945, it is far more likely that possible illegals will have, if not family, then cultural and ethnic connections so I will grant that the pressures are greater.

    Having said that, I have two strong reservations regarding your post. The first is that very few of the illegals you refer to have come there from their country of origin. For the most part they have made their way by various means to mainland Europe. What is supposed to happen is that these immigrants should seek to legitamise their status in the country of arrival within the EU. While it is clear that many of those countries find it far more convenient to treat themselves as countries of transit, they are basically not living up to their responsibilities and the British authorities are perfectly entitled to send them back to France, Holland, Germany or wherever they came from on the final leg of their journey. If every country in the EU were to stick by the rules, the pressure would be significantly reduced.

    The problem with this is that all the time Britain is seen as not participating in the spirit of the European project, what inducement is there for the others to comply with the letter of the law? The other problem with your point is that it does not address the question of how Schengen members are able to exercise controls with open borders but the UK is not. Hungary, for example, has land borders with Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia and Romainia none of which are Schengen countries and open borders with Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia. There does not appear to be a big issue with exercising controls where needed while facilitating the free flow of traffic where it is not. There is no such thing as a watertight border and of course there will be leakage but, if the rest of Europe can manage, I really don't see why the UK cannot given the additional advantage of a physical barrier.

    Despite your well reasoned argument, I still think that the political classes are pandering in a populist way to the British siege mentality. The border issue is the 'line in the sand' that they will not cross for fear of being seen as acquiescing to greater European project which such a vociferous group of Brits see as the thin end of the wedge. I fear that this issue is going to fester in the European psyche and build up a lot of resentment, no more so than at the UK's one and only land border with Ireland.

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  • 122. At 5:17pm on 01 Feb 2009, fragility wrote:

    As to the main topic of this discussion, joining eurozone regulated by the European Bank is at best economically meaningless. There is no conceivable economical advantage for any contry in losing an important degree of freedom in its economical policy. Euro iz a purely political project. Which reflects a more fundamental fact: EU isn't an economical union, as it was initially advertised, but a political project with still undeclared goals. By extrapolation, one can conjecture the goal as another attempt to restore the Holy Roman Empire of Carl the Great.

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  • 123. At 5:22pm on 01 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    87. At 6:24pm on 31 Jan 2009, Ford Mondeo wrote:

    Suffolkboy2 post 74

    "Totally unacceptable:

    History, corruption, policing, character etc...
    We had a fundamentally different agenda from the majority of continentals. Get us out before the whole sick cocktail explodes."

    Ha ha ha , just priceless. So many Europhobics drum out the tired old line of "we dont mind europeans we just hate the EU", but you can easily see what is implied when the outbursts get going.This is hilarious!Post after post we see their barely held contempt for johnny foreigner spill out accidentally, namely that the EU is corrupt and unworthy and unworkable with the implication of it being so BECAUSE it is run by continental europeans.

    I mean the caricature that many europeans have of the french being arrogant is nothing to this... al least they accept in principle that all men are equal."

    Ford Mondeo!

    My reply to you has been removed. It contained no swear words. I merely told the truth as I see it. I believe that the majority of people in the UK agree with me.

    So we are now in a position where we cannot tell the truth about the "EU". It might even be illegal. I have a nice new toothbrush sitting here ready for my stay in prison. I must remember to get some vegan toothpaste.

    The fact that I am not allowed to publish my views based on a massive amount of evidence including comments by Italians and other continentals means that those who favour the "EU" will not be able to counter my arguments.


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  • 124. At 6:08pm on 01 Feb 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    SuffolkBoy2 @ 116

    You are right about discrimination in Germany - indeed, to a greater or less extent, discrimination against non-nationals exists in most countries, including EU member states. I lived in Germany for two years, and know the country well.

    Strangely, England (and I say England advisedly, because the same is emphatically NOT true in nationalistic Scotland and Wales) is probably the most 'European' and least discriminatory country in Europe in terms of allowing other Europeans (including Scots and Welsh) to come and live and work, as well as giving equal chances of promotion and career advancement.

    However, membership of the EU does give us at least some legal tools to fight the kind of thing that goes on in Germany, both as a member state and as individuals. Although pro-EU myself, I have never understood why our Euro-sceptic Governments have never pushed other member states to get their own houses in order on the detail of free movement of labour as a pre-condition before pushing ahead with further integration on other fronts. By doing this, they could paint themselves as actually being the champions of the European project, and certain other states as being the ones that drag their feet - on just such matters as SuffolkBoy2 describes.

    JorgeG1 @ 94

    As usual, we largely agree on Schengen. My biggest concern, though, is not how our border controls have worked since the Amsterdam Treaty (which gave the UK the opt out from Schengen and formalised the soon-to-be-defunct Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland), but the proposals for the future. Yes, I agree that controls are inapproriate and unnecessary, but in practice - to date - the inconvenience has been minor for most of us. No real objection to quickly flashing a UK/EU passport to a UK officer in France whilst waiting to board a UK bound ferry.

    Quite a different matter under the forthcoming e-borders programme which relies on advance notice of travel plans, and gives the border Stasi a right of veto over travel to AND FROM the UK. So what about sudden travel arrangements? You unexpectedely need to be at a business meeting, so need to catch a train to in Paris the same evening, or you arrive early for a ferry (as I often have done), and get put on an earlier sailing? A relative suddenly falls ill (as happened to me recently), and need to catch a flight to Germany that day?

    It has been openly discussed that boarding might be denied, for example if you have not paid fines. What does this mean?- you are in arrears with your Council tax, maintenace to your children, unpaid speeding or parking fines, unpaid income tax? What happens if there is a mistake and your holiday is ruined whilst you get matters cleared up, or you miss a vital meeting and lose an order which causes your business to fail?

    These are all real life scenarios, and stopping travel to a UK/EU citizen on any one of them is a fundamental breach of EU legislation.

    Threnodio @ 121

    The proposals for the UK/Ireland border are actually that there will be no controls between N Ireland and the Republic - as JorgeG1 pointed out in an earlier exchange, the Good Friday Agreement (thankfully)prevents such lunacy, but the imposition of a new UK/UK 'border' between N Ireland and Great Britain - as I have pointed out before, the first internal border control in Europe since the Stasi was disbanded and East and West Germany reunified.

    The proposal seems to have faced virtually no opposition from anyone - let alone those self proclaimed champions of the 'Union' Gordon Brown and David Cameron. The Union is obvious NOT safe in either of THEIR hands!

    Where are the DUP and UUP - why are they not fighting this? Or is that they are the lucky ones, able to live outside fortress GB?

    Perhaps another piece of impending legislation, though, gives the clue about our Goverment's true attitude to N Ireland... English shops may soon be forced to accept Scottish bank notes (issued in various denominations by no less than three different Scottish Banks), so hapless shop workers, totally unfamiliar with up to 12 designs of notes will be forced to delay queues of customers whilst supervisors check that they are genuine. However, there is no such proposal as regards the equally valid N Irish Sterling notes. Yet again the Scots will get preferential treatment over all other UK nations...

    The Euro

    As for the Euro - the UK establishment still think that it is buiness as usual even though opposition to it is now pointless. It exists, so like it or not, we have to live with it. The economic landscape of Europe changed the day the Euro was borne, but 40 km of English Channel seems to make our elite think that we are the centre of the Universe, and can ignore what goes on elsewhere.

    Some years ago I attended a dinner at which Todd Evans, then MD of Peugeot UK talked about the (then) successful manufacture of cars in Coventry. It had just won an award for building the best quality cars of any Peugeot factory, anywhere.

    I asked him what the future of the factory was in the UK stayed outside the Euro. He made it plain that it had no future in such circumstances. He also lamented the high cost of transporting cars over 40 km of sea, and that nothing was being done to cut those costs.

    A few years later, the Coventry factory, the company's only UK plant, closed with the loss of thousands of jobs. Production has now moved to Slovakia. On 1 January 2009, Slovakia joined the Euro.

    As things stand, Peugeot will not be the last to go. 'British jobs for British workers' ??

    Come on Gordon, get real. You have done nothing to help, and have no proposals or intention of doing anything to help, except for the creation of yet more parasytic publc sector jobs to be paid for by the productive economy.

    Joining the Euro and signalling intent to join Schengen would be a start in the right direction.

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  • 125. At 6:32pm on 01 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #123 - SuffolkBoy2

    Although we are on opposing sides of this debate, we have always treated each others views with respect but you really have got to stop posting that ". . . that the majority of people in the UK agree with me". I know you qualified it with "I believe . . ." but this is the whole point. Nobody knows because nobody has the guts to ask the question.

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  • 126. At 6:54pm on 01 Feb 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    threnodio @125,

    The reason "nobody has the guts to ask the question" is simple: Our political elites know what the answer will be - and they won't like it.

    That is why Brown didn't have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. (or, for the same reason, a General Election).

    One can only conclude from such cowardly and dishonourable behavior that SufflkBoy2 is indeed correct when he says "... the majority of people in the UK agree with me".




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  • 127. At 8:09pm on 01 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #124 SuperJulianR

    FYI The Scottish bank note thing was simply a stunt by Scotland's only Tory MP. I wouldn't bother about it.

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  • 128. At 8:37pm on 01 Feb 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    SuperJulianR @ 124

    *As usual, we largely agree on Schengen. My biggest concern, though, is not how our border controls have worked since the Amsterdam Treaty (----) Yes, I agree that controls are inapproriate and unnecessary, but in practice - to date - the inconvenience has been minor for most of us. No real objection to quickly flashing a UK/EU passport to a UK officer in France whilst waiting to board a UK bound ferry.*

    SuperJulianR, in this case I must say that you apply a British-centric approach. As you say regarding
    the euro, *The economic landscape of Europe changed the day the Euro was born*

    Same applies to the EUs passport and border union, which I inappropriately keep describing as Schengen as per the name of the original treaties that gave birth to this passport union. If the UK public school clique that rules this country thinks that it can continue with business as usual staying out of a passport union that includes 25 countries surrounding it, they have another thing coming.

    Think about this example: Any Chinese tourist coming to Europe or business traveler coming to Europe’s Single Market can obtain a Schengen visa and travel to any or all of the 25 Schengen member countries (a list that keeps growing). If they want to visit the UK they will have to apply for a second visa, the UK visa. The Schengen visa involves a two-page form and, as far as I know, it has a ring fenced list of requisites. The UK visa is a 10+ page form, is more expensive and, from my experience, has an open ended list of conditions, to allow UK visa officers plenty of *flexibility* re. grounds for refusal. Go figure which of these visas would you choose if you were a Chinese tourist or business traveler, other things being equal.

    In the same way, as I have said ad nauseam you cannot really have a *true* Single Market where you allow free movement for goods, services and capital but deny the same basic freedom to *people*, and by people I mean people, not holders of the *right* passports. If you deny freedom of movement to people, then what you really have is a free trading area, not a single market.

    And, as somebody else said above, I think threnodio, I don’t consider that freedom of movement means having to queue to show your passport to a border police officer who will have it scanned and stored in a database. That is a debased notion of freedom of movement.

    The saddest thing is that with regards to the EUs border and passport union, the UK has gone into regression, as rightly pointed out by SJR and others.

    This is what the House of Lords EU committee recommended in 1999:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld199899/ldselect/ldeucom/37/3705.htm

    *We believe that in the three major areas of Schengen—border controls, police co-operation (SIS) and visa/asylum/immigration policy—there is a strong case, in the interests of the United Kingdom and its people, for full United Kingdom participation.*

    That was before the UKs political elite fell, to the last man, under the spell of the keep-our-borders fundamentalism, a spin-off of the war-on-terror fundamentalism.

    And this is from 2007, after all of them had embraced the *new dogma*:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200607/ldselect/ldeucom/49/4910.htm

    *135. We have referred to our 1999 report on Schengen and the United Kingdom’s border controls. That report concluded that retaining the United Kingdom’s present frontier controls over passengers coming from Schengen States was not a long term option.

    136. Much has changed in the last eight years. Given today’s climate of international terrorism, there is no likelihood of this country’s frontier controls being diminished in the foreseeable future.*

    So basically, that was then and this is now.

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  • 129. At 9:11pm on 01 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #126 - MaxSceptic

    I completely agree. I regret it but I am realistic enough to understand how improbable it is that the euro enthusiasts would carry the day.

    Where we differ is where the political establishment stands. I thing there is widespread euroscepticism in those ranks too, in which case you would have thought that they would want their position legitimised by mandate. The government is stuck between a rock and a hard place having commited to all sorts of European measures for which they had no mandate.

    All they are interested in is power. If the pundits suddenly proclaimed that they had got it all wrong and the Brits all loved Europe after all, the pollies would be falling over themselves to sign new treaties. If your politics are going to be driven by a populist agenda, the least you can do is make sure the agenda is popular.

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  • 130. At 9:42pm on 01 Feb 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    oldnat @127

    The reality is that the UK is a currency union, and if acceptance of notes in the different UK nations is a problem, then the solution is to have a single design for all UK member nations, and call them "Bank of the United Kingdom" - if Euro notes can be accepted across 16 member countries and they all look identical, then so can Pound Sterling notes across just four member nations.

    The whole issue of having different designs - especially now that the two main Scottish Banks are now under control from London - is an outdated nonsense - a typical attempt by Whitehall and Westminster at giving you in Scotland and in N Ireland some kind of toytown pretend autonomy.

    It is completely meaningless, because it is the Bank of England that allows them to be issued, adds hugely to expense and confusion but actually brings nothing in terms of independence to either Scotland or N Ireland.

    On returning from Scotland and N Ireland I usually get rid of the notes at motorway service areas near the border, where there is strong cross border traffic, on ferries and at hotels.

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  • 131. At 9:43pm on 01 Feb 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    JonJono78
    "Mark do not be bullied.. in Blog express your opinion.."

    Agree Mr Mardell should not be 'bullied' and as he is a grown up working amongst the-lowest-of-the-low, i.e. politicians, I suspect he has long since learnt to take care of himself.

    However, sorry, but Mr Mardell and likewise all BBC Journalists, simply cannot and must never use this or any BBC Blog to express his own 'opinion'. This Blog is presented under the auspices of the BBC and just as BBC could not enter into any charitable appeal for Gaza on political grounds, so it is with any Journalistic output paid for by the BBC. Mr Mardell can represent what he believes to be the views etc. of those in the news and draw conclusions as to what those views might lead to etc. However, his own personal views on any topic are strictly taboo.

    re 'johnny foreigner' thread of comments and 'criticism' of same in EU topics:

    I count myself in the EUrosceptic branch of English Citizens. Many of my Comments refer to the undemocratic practises and very doubtful electoral mandate of the EU.

    With Dutch, German, English grandparents, a Belge mother and Finnish wife I find it personally objectionable that Johnny-EU can always find it easy to label anti-EU comments as 'europhobic' and 'little englander'. It would seem they can choose to use this (anti-foreign) as an 'out' from genuine, logical argument whenever it suits their purpose to do so.

    There will be UK Citizens so dull of mind they can only see a British Isles for Britons, but, I believe from reading over time most of the anti-EU Comments on these Blogs that the majority of us 'sceptics' have honourable views expressed in all sincerity.

    I do not know all French, or Geman, or Italian, or Polish etc and therefore cannot comment on their personal habits, integrity, arrogance, intolerance, honesty, venality etc. anymore than I would attempt to do so on the Citizens of Devon in comparison with the Citizens of Surrey, Herefordshire, Yorkshire etc. It is my contention that the European Union is a fundamentally flawed organisation in several aspects and none of them are to do with individual nations particular supposed traits.

    I object to British and principally to English Membership of the EU because:
    1) The EU is not democratically accountable to the electorate of each nation.
    2) The EU has a EUrocratic bureacracy-administration that overlays, repeats and increases the costs of every project undertaken at a National level for no useful reason.
    3) The EU democracy, where it exists at all, e.g. European Parliament has a: for 30 odd years failed to engage with the electorate, and b: failed to demonstrate the minimum requirements of an effective, functioning legislative body reflecting and responsive to the interests of the Citizens.
    4) The EU as a pan-european body has continually represented and enacted policies agreeable to Paris and Berlin National interests and often to the detriment of the rest of the membership nations, e.g Common Agricultural Policy, Social Chapter etc.
    5) The EU has developed an ever more encroaching political influence in areas of National interest that it has never had any mandate to do, e.g. Judiciary, Policing and Military.
    6) The EU and its so-called 'federal project' is a politicisation of EU Bureaucracy which is outside the remit of those employed to service the EU: This is never more clear than in the repeated EUrocratic dismissal-rejection-counter measures to the Citizen's 'No' vote in Referenda.
    7) The EU has never had an electoral mandate within the United Kingdom, and this is especially so in England where every officially recognised poll/survey of English Public opinion has indicated never less than 70% opposition to membership of the EU.
    8) The EU and the European Court of Justice has demonstrated many times that it is not concerned with serving, protecting and reflecting the Citizen, but with closely observed finer points of law, e.g. UK Home Secretary obliged to quantify/tariff 'life' sentences, obliged to pay Compensation to convicted Terrorists for prison conditions etc.
    9) The EU may be the perfect union for mainland Europe, but, as history, heritage, culture, language etc. have demonstrated over 2,000 years the British Isles have that geographical distinction for the very good reason that it is an Island.
    10) The EU is increasingly setting itself in opposition or competition to the USA: On the strictly personal basis of my own preference, I believe this to be a long term serious error of foreign policy judgement and therefore the UK/England would do well to withdraw from such an unhelpful and dangerous political manoeuvre which in no way serves the best interests of the British Citizen.

    Here ends my lesson!

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  • 132. At 9:47pm on 01 Feb 2009, meznaric wrote:

    MaxSceptic:

    I am generally pro-European but I really like your post about the politicians hiding the true direction of the European project. It is very telling that a large proportion of the European politicians are members of the society known as the Union of European Federalists (the website in English is http://en.federaleurope.org/). In the political circles it is a fact that this is where Europe is heading but in the public this is not expressed. And make no mistake, some countries might well support the federal idea while others might shy away from it. A good thing would be to create a federal state within the EU - sort of like a coalition of the willing. But I think eventually all would join in, for they would loose a lot of power if they didn't.

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  • 133. At 10:09pm on 01 Feb 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    In answer to Mark's original blog, and many posts on this site, those who are taking an anti-Euro stance and just hoping that one of the so-called PIGS crashes out of the Euro, or that Germany will decide to go it alone had better be careful what they wish for.

    A break up of European monetary union will send all European stock-markets - including the UK, even though it is not in the Euro - into freefall, with all that entails in terms of jobs, devastated savings portfolios and pension funds, as well as business and consumer confidence.

    The Germans think that they are not to blame for the current global financial crisis, and they may be right, but just because they were not at the party does not mean that they will suffer a hangover just the same - and so it would be with a break up of the Euro.

    Investors hate uncertainty.

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  • 134. At 10:54pm on 01 Feb 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    JorgeG1 @ 128

    Very interesting post, as usual. The UK's position is actually worse than mere regression - the imposition of an internal UK/UK frontier (as currently envisaged) is entirely incompatible with the existence of the UK as a unitary state.

    The 1999 House of Lords submission reads like a breath of enlightened fresh air, and how spineless they must all be to have adopted the Tabloid version by 2007.

    On free movement of third country nationals, yes you are of course right. This point was made to me a while ago by an Indian business man who was fed up with the UK approach. What if all 27 member states took our approach?

    Most recently a North American businessman (who does not need a visa), with substantial investments in the north of England, complained to me that some border police would-be Stasi officer had detained him for questioning at Heathrow. After some time, he was eventually asked, asking him WHY he had investments in England!!!

    'British jobs for British workers', Mr Brown? - With these imbeciles in charge of greeting overseas investors, we are lucky to have any jobs left.

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  • 135. At 10:56pm on 01 Feb 2009, zugcanton wrote:

    I think the whole issuse of where there a country is better off in or out of the euro is rather pointless, as it hides from the actual responsiblities of each country to regulate and control it's own ecomony.

    For instance Ireland is in the euro, but Britain isn't but yet both coutries have had huge crisis regarding there finanical sectors.

    Both Ireland and Britain (Ireland which is part of the euro with desicion making process in Frankfurt & Britain with it's own currency and the Bank of England setting rates) allowed there to be way to much cheap and easy credit to pour into the market with little or no controls on the critera of who gets credit.

    The "boom" of the last few years was based on consumer spending house building/house values and making money from nothing - thin air on the stock market.

    Yet Finland which is in the euro had much more tighter regulation of it's banks and lending thus it isn't in no-where as near as mess as either Ireland or Britain.

    Therefore this proves that it doesn't really matter currency that you use (within reason) but rather how much or little regulation that you want.

    Basically people and journalist and commentors should stop writing pointless articles about being pro or anti euro and should start focusing on why say a year or two ago everyone was supporting their own governments with there cheap and easy credit and excessive spending and now the excat same commentors are now asking why there governments failed to enforce the banks and credit properly.

    You can't have it both ways either you want a highly regulated finicinal sector with an economcy with a small but stable year on year growth or to have a laizre la faire ecomoncy with very little state inference with the boom bust cycle that goes with it.

    Commentioners as late as 2007 were gloating how much better Britain was with the City of London compared with France or Germany with their high regulation and taxes and how Britain's growth rate was so much higher now you're even though Britain has consistainly voted for governments which supported a consumer spending cheap and easy credit culture with minimum regulation (Big Bang to Labour)

    Then when the party over and the market collapses everyone is like
    "How did this happen??"

    Take you pick, and stick with your decesion Grow up and start acting like adults but don't start complaining when don't everything that you want.

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  • 136. At 11:27pm on 01 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #130 SuperJulianR

    "a typical attempt by Whitehall and Westminster at giving you in Scotland and in N Ireland some kind of toytown pretend autonomy."

    Before opening electronic mouth, please engage knowledge circuitry!

    Until the middle of the nineteenth century, privately owned banks in Great Britain and Ireland were free to issue their own banknotes and money issued by provincial English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish banking companies circulated freely as a means of payment.

    English banks lost the right to issue notes in 1844, the last Welsh note-issuing bank closed in 1908.

    I don't mind Unionist arguments, but it would help you if you had at least minimal understanding.

    Have a nice day.

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  • 137. At 11:33pm on 01 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #131 ikamaskeip

    "the British Isles have that geographical distinction for the very good reason that it is an Island."

    Haven't you noticed that the word "Isles" is a plural - or are you only concerned with the largest of these islands? In which case residents of the Isle of Wight must be really pi**ed at you!

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  • 138. At 11:45pm on 01 Feb 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #42 politejomsviking

    "As an American of German decent I hate the EURO."

    Right, having a good look for links and the only bit I get is:

    "you" and "hate"

    Is this the face of.......right wing fanaticism pretending to be nationalism!

    Oh, how 1930s etc. etc. (Shrinks!)

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  • 139. At 11:59pm on 01 Feb 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #50 politejomsviking

    "Some how that is all disappearing and being replaced by a foreigner that will fix the toilet for less if you comit national suicide and call yourself a European."

    Is that Johnny foreigner?
    I heard he's quite good....

    I know, every time you say you believe in "Europe", one of the independent European countries ....
    ....disappears!
    (Like fiaries. Remember?)

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  • 140. At 00:30am on 02 Feb 2009, aye_write wrote:

    #53 politejomsviking

    "IF YOU DID NOT PASS ON THE CULTURAL VALUES THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO EACH OF THE GRANDSON'S ETHNIC GROUPS YOU HAVE ROBBED HIM OF HIS HERITAGE."

    If I'm right (forgive me oldnat if I'm not) oldnat's grandson is two years old - a little bit young to be enrolling in classes of any sort, never mind ones of culture stereotype brainwashing.

    Funny how I gained my Scottish identity without said classes or 'cultural rote learning'....

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  • 141. At 01:19am on 02 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    SB

    "Religion. I knew people who worked for a very large company in Germany which used to have branches in the UK. I was told that in Germany they would only employ Catholics"

    Thats is sheer nonsense, or as the American would say, complete bs. Germany is actually pretty much equally divided into catholics and protestants (remember Martin Luther?).

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  • 142. At 01:22am on 02 Feb 2009, meznaric wrote:

    politejomsviking

    What you don't realize is that Germany has changed a great deal since the time you left. The old opinions are no longer widespread.

    Also, the ECB is based on the old German model and has thus far managed to produce a stable and a far more powerful currency than DM ever was.

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  • 143. At 03:19am on 02 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #142 meznaric

    I suspect that politejomsviking has spent little time in Germany. He doesn't say when his ancestors left for the USA - 19th century?

    Gives him/her little justification for suggesting how the country his people abandoned should develop.

    (S/he s probably watching the Super Bowl at the moment - as I am.)

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  • 144. At 05:03am on 02 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    I agree. The guy probably hasnt even been to Germany, doesn't speak German and probably is only 5% "real" German. He lost his culture before he had it.

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  • 145. At 07:10am on 02 Feb 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    oldnat137 and 'isles' or islands'

    Plural or singular why would a Scot, a Welsh or an English be cross with me when all you can do in answer to anything is use profanity?

    Now, in the vernacular: Jog on!

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  • 146. At 09:06am on 02 Feb 2009, SuperJulianR wrote:

    Oldnat @ 136

    You have misunderstood my point. Actually, I am not a unionist, and fully support independence for Scotland and England, and preferably adoption of the Euro by both our countries.

    In the meantime, like it or not, we are in a currency union, and using the same design of notes would make life easier and be more logical.

    My point is that Whitehall and Westminster like the idea of separate designs of notes so that Scots less well informed than yourself have the feeling that they have retained some Scottish autonomy because your money looks different - it is in fact a meaningless sham because neither Scotland nor N Ireland (yet) has any monetary independence at all.

    I would have thought that Nationalists would see that this kind of thing is just a distraction from the path to independence - in which case Scotland could freely elect to maintain a currrency union with England, join the Euro, or float its own (proper) Scottish Pound as the Scottish people wished.

    Gheryando @ 141

    Whilst Germany has roughly equal numbers of protestants and catholics, they tend to live in different areas.

    Bavaria for example is overwhelmingly catholic, especially in rural areas and in the south, and protestants are still discriminated against in those communities.

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  • 147. At 09:36am on 02 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    I'll offer a different perspective on the "discrimination in Europe"

    I left the UK with 8 GCSE's, I dropped my A level's to go to college, and dropped that for a job opportunity (Yes, I regret and wish I had a degree).

    I have worked mostly in Luxembourg over my career. I have had job opportunities in Munich, Paris and Aix-en-Provence that would have paid well, but which I declined due to a mortgage and my wife. I have worked also in Belgium briefly, but prefer to earn more than "slightly less than you can survive with".
    On my return to the UK, my just-short-of ten years of experience (at that time) was of little interest to UK companies as "it was abroad" therefore didn't count in their eyes. The same for driving, as insurance companies obviously believe cars and roads don't exist outside of the UK.
    I admit it was close to ten years ago, but I came across the same barriers in the UK as in Belgium. It doesn't matter what you can do, you are employed solely on the qualifications you have.
    I find it ludicrous that someone with a degree in chemistry will be offered a job as an accountant because he went to university whereas a competent person with lesser (but relevant) qualifications, or no bits of paper but lot's of experience will be totally ignored.
    Luckily I'm proficient in a software who's users could all fit on the head of a pin...

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  • 148. At 09:50am on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    86. At 6:12pm on 31 Jan 2009, padav01 wrote:

    "SuffolkBoy2: "You mean a European superstate"

    SuffolkBoy2 - you'll have to define precisely what you mean by "superstate" in this context. Whilst you're at it, you might add in your interpretation of the word "federal" because it is routinely conflated with this concept (MaxSceptic wrote: "Regarding an EU federal super-state").

    I'm interested in understanding the rationale supporting your rejection of this idea."

    I am not interested in defining "superstate". I use the word as a label rather than as the start of a definition.

    In this case, I meant hat you seem to want total integration so that the "EU" then would have the same sort of structure as say Germany has at the moment. On President, on Army one Parliament.

    Totally unacceptable as the continentals have a definite tendency towards fascism.

    It has already gone too far in that direction. It went too far with the treaty of 1972 but I didn't know it at the time.

    As regards "federal" - I don't use that word a lot so ask somebody who uses it in this context.

    In #5 you write: "This kind of "real" Europe can only come about if there is a fundamental reappraisal of individual areas of governmental activity; are Europeans best served by pooling their resources (and thus sovereignty) in the field of defence..."

    Totally unacceptable!

    "Pooling of sovereignty" means giving up sovereignty. That has gone too far already and must be reversed. The goings on with the Lisbon Treaty have shown that the structures that are in place at the moment are unacceptable and that the people using these structures are totally unacceptable.

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  • 149. At 10:04am on 02 Feb 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To SuffolkBoy2 (148):

    To loan from the other great Federation from the other side of the Atlantic...

    Why you hate freedom?

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  • 150. At 10:07am on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    118. At 4:11pm on 01 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    "...

    I nearly fell off my chair! SB2 agreed with GP about something. Wonders will never cease! ;-)

    ...And might we also agree that you can't really learn a foreign language until you've mastered the grammar of your own?"

    Sorry, GP I don't agree with you on that one. I don't really want to get bogged down in a discussion about language teaching. I am not as confident on my views on that matter as I am on my views about the "EU." I actually think that learning a foreign language could be used partly as an excuse to learn more about your own language and other matters. I believe that this idea contains a touch of the Renaissance approach. If you want to come back to me on that one, then feel free to do so but I might not reply.

    I have been incandescent with rage about the "EU" and its predecessors and people like Heath and Blair since about 1975. I believe that a European Army could become the SS of a Fourth Reich. Clearly this is not a trivial matter.

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  • 151. At 10:09am on 02 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    #148
    "the continentals have a definite tendency towards fascism."

    Where?

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  • 152. At 10:24am on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    125. At 6:32pm on 01 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    "#123 - SuffolkBoy2

    Although we are on opposing sides of this debate, we have always treated each others views with respect but you really have got to stop posting that ". . . that the majority of people in the UK agree with me". I know you qualified it with "I believe . . ." but this is the whole point. Nobody knows because nobody has the guts to ask the question. "

    Let me be honest. You have been more of a gentleman than I have.

    I have complained bitterly, loudly and repeatedly elsewhere about people who abuse other people just because they disagree. However there are some who have got themselves elected or tried to by lying brass-facedly to the British people and yet others who support this approach and do not care about democracy or about our rights. I do not mean Threnodio.

    Some would say that you should be polite to such people too. I would say that the British people have not been stroppy enough.

    As regards my suggestion that the majority of the British people would agree with me: I have found that it is very frequently so. I do not claim to represent them. They have not asked me to represent them and I am sure that they never will.

    You write: "Nobody knows because nobody has the guts to ask the question. "

    I believe that they do "know" and that that is why they have not "asked the question" or put it to a referendum. By not doing so they have dealt people like me a good card which I and others will use repreatedly.

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  • 153. At 10:42am on 02 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    An EU army the new SS? What a lunatic idea.
    btw..wasn't this thread about the euro once?

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  • 154. At 10:53am on 02 Feb 2009, JohaMe wrote:

    @86,SuffolkBoy2

    I can imagine you do not want the EU following the American example and become the United States of Europe. However, I do not understand your argumentation.

    Your argument: (quote) "Totally unacceptable as the continentals have a definite tendency towards fascism."

    Could you please elaborate on that?

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  • 155. At 11:18am on 02 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #152 - SuffolkBoy2

    Yes you are right. They have dealt you four kings but the ace in the pack would be certainty. Given the new protectionism which is being manifested through wildcat strikes, the whole issue is about to become a whole lot more divisive. While I would regret this, there has never been a better time for eurosceptics to rally their forces. As I have posted elsewhere, if you can find common cause with the increasing body who just want to see the back of Labour, it will be an unholy alliance but you will win the day.

    Personally, I think it would be a mistake of tragic proportions but let's get over and done with.

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  • 156. At 11:46am on 02 Feb 2009, bryanhollamby wrote:

    As a not disconnected aside to what Mark has written, I walked over from Greece to FYR Macedonia yesterday and was interested to see a notice at the Greek customs post to the effect that it is now illegal in FYR Macedonia to use euros for any purchases rather than their own currency, dinars (dinari). The notice said that this has recently been passed by law in FYR Macedonia and that fines for contraventions range from EUR5000 to EUR7000 and six months' imprisonment - although it was not clear if the fine had to be paid in euros or dinari!! Use of the euro for purchases there has been widespread in the past (even state toll booths on the main route from Greece up to Serbia readily accepted euros), and even yesterday I was asked at a shop in the village near the border if I wished to pay for a bottle of wine in euros or dinari. Suffice to say that I didn't fancy paying seven thousand euros and six months in prison for a bottle of Macedonian wine, however nice it may be!!

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  • 157. At 11:48am on 02 Feb 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    For the relief of many, no doubt, I am going to stick to the euro on this post.

    My first point is that a straitjackets and safety nets relate to the merits or otherwise of the euro as a means to survive a recession but are not indicative of what happens in the longer periods when the economy is not in recession. Since the periods when economies are not in recession are a lot longer, what becomes more important is to measure whether joining the euro is better or worse during *normal* economic periods, not just during recessions.

    In any case, monetary policy is grossly overrated as a tool to fight a recession. IMO monetary policy is a tool to fine tune an economy during normal times, but it is useless as a tool to fine tune something that is broken, in the same way you add engine oil to fine tune the working engine but adding engine oil is pointless when the engine is broken. I wonder if this is something that the BoE and HMG are only now realising, seeing that successive reductions of interest rates to near zero are not working to revive an economy in a coma.

    The second point that I would like to make is that the mythical *one-size-fits-all* argument of the anti-EU camp is a self-defeating one. In the Eurozone you have an interest rate that applies to 16 different countries but in the UK you have an interest rate that applies to four different countries with very different economic patters: the four countries that make up the *UK superstate*. But that is not all, what is statistically important is not how many countries are in the Eurozone or how many in the UK, but what is the economic variability inside the Eurozone and inside the UK.

    Inside the Eurozone we have Luxembourg on top with a per capita GDP of 266pct of the EU average and Portugal at the bottom with a GDP of 76pct of the EU average (eurostat data for 2007). I can see the smile in the anti-EU brigade: Try to make the same interest rate to fit these different economies, they will say.

    Well, inside the UK *superstate* you have the following: Central London (with the highest GDP per capita of all the EU regions), has a per capita GDP at 303pct of the EU average compared to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly at 77pct of the EU average. So the GDP spread between London and Cornwall is even higher than the spread inside the Eurozone.

    These disparities inside the UK make the one-size-fits-all paradigm utterly pointless as a basis to assess whether the euro is a good or a bad thing for the UK.

    That leaves IMO only one real argument in the anti-EU camp: The sovereignty argument, which becomes more of an article of faith or dogma rather than an empirically measurable argument: At what point does one country lose its sovereignty? Or, do you lose your sovereignty if you leave interest rates in the hands of unelected technocrats in the ECB instead of in the hands unelected technocrats in the BoE?

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  • 158. At 12:32pm on 02 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    @JohaMe

    What he means is that while Continentals choose all of their parliament and most choose their head of state, the Ukers don't are not allowed to choose their head of state nor their upper house.

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  • 159. At 12:38pm on 02 Feb 2009, Padav wrote:

    @padav01: I'm interested in understanding the rationale supporting your rejection of this idea."

    @SuffolkBoy2: "I am not interested in defining "superstate. I use the word as a label rather than as the start of a definition.
    In this case, I meant hat you seem to want total integration so that the "EU" then would have the same sort of structure as say Germany has at the moment. On President, on Army one Parliament.
    Totally unacceptable as the continentals have a definite tendency towards fascism. It has already gone too far in that direction.
    It went too far with the treaty of 1972 but I didn't know it at the time."

    SB2 - thanks for your response

    It is now obvious to me that your disposition and motivations are rooted in blind unswerving nationalism, drawn from the same well of shallow absurdity demonstrated by @politejomsviking earlier in this thread.

    Precisely the kind of blinkered sentiment that led Europe into three utterly ruinous internecine conflicts between 1870 and 1939 - one hopes that Europeans now have a different way of doing things?

    However I realise that for you the notion of integration, on any level, is anathema, even if a gradual reconciliation of European self-interest could be founded upon basic democratic principles; lofty goals which I agree are a long way from achievement.

    I feel an overwhelming sense of pity for you, living in a narrow, bitter, twisted and introverted environment, railing against the slow but inexorable progress of European integration. Maybe you should cut yourself off from the real world and retreat into a kind of virtual pre Suez romanticised setting - you'd certainly be a lot more content?

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  • 160. At 12:42pm on 02 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #146 SuperJulianR

    Thanks for the elucidation.

    Actually, I don't think you are right about the UK deliberately maintaining NI and Scottish notes as a sop to nationalism - though maybe you're right and I'm not paranoid enough about the manipulations of the UK! :-)

    It's more that the UK as an institution is inherently conservative (small c) and even lazy about its constitution. It's difficult to see any time when it has reformed its institutions, other than at the last minute, under desperate pressure.

    It's a real sluggard, resistant to sensible change, and (like its Home Office) "not fit for purpose".

    Hence its opposition to Europe, the euro, and anything outwith it's limited perceptions.

    Dump the thing, and let's start again.

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  • 161. At 1:26pm on 02 Feb 2009, Padav wrote:

    @ikamaskeip: I object to British and principally to English Membership of the EU because:
    1) The EU is not democratically accountable to the electorate of each nation.
    2) The EU has a EUrocratic bureacracy-administration that overlays, repeats and increases the costs of every project undertaken at a National level for no useful reason.
    3) The EU democracy, where it exists at all, e.g. European Parliament has a: for 30 odd years failed to engage with the electorate, and b: failed to demonstrate the minimum requirements of an effective, functioning legislative body reflecting and responsive to the interests of the Citizens.
    4) The EU as a pan-european body has continually represented and enacted policies agreeable to Paris and Berlin National interests and often to the detriment of the rest of the membership nations, e.g Common Agricultural Policy, Social Chapter etc.

    @ikamaskeip - I tend to concur with much of the first four points of objection you have raised.

    However, I refer you back to my first contribution to this thread when in specific response to the main question about the efficacy of the euro as a means of stimulating economic integration, I said:

    "the Union itself and the various facets of integration it has fostered, is still perceived as an international arrangement between distinct sovereign elements; the member states. What I label the "Europe of Nations" model, in which the primacy of the member state is still sacrosanct within the Union's institutional architecture; hence the hegemony still exerted by the European Council/Council of Ministers when it comes to the big decisions shaping the future direction and pace of integration."

    The European Union is a work in progress - processes with such profound implications take generations to unfold and perhaps, for the sake of social cohesion, that is no bad thing?

    Until that "Rubicon" threshold is passed where, within the general consensus of European public disposition, it is accepted that key policy areas (limited by a constitution?) are exclusively European in resonance and application, ordinary citizens will continue to view potential governance solutions through the distorting lens of disparate member state perspectives.

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  • 162. At 1:49pm on 02 Feb 2009, Harri wrote:

    Europhobes who argue that "Greece (for example) should not have the same currency (and/or interest rates) as (for example) Germany because their economies are so different should equally argue that Londoners should not use the same currency as those living in Truro. But it never happens. I wonder why?

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  • 163. At 1:54pm on 02 Feb 2009, LogicalJack wrote:

    To (151) G-in-Belgium

    I think that Hitler qualifies as a fascist (1933 - 1945). Let's see, who else is there...

    Napoleon, Mussolini, Franco (Dictator of Spain from 1936 - 1975), Salazar (Prime Minister and Dictator of Portugal 1932 - 1968);

    Since I think that what we're driving at here is those who qualify as Totalitarian rather than merely facist then we should include the communist dictators as well....

    ..Stalin, Tito (made "President for life" of Yugoslavia in 1974).

    And while we're on the subject, the record shows that certain EU Commissioners have totalitarian sympathies...

    1) Jose Barosso - one of the leaders of the Maoist MRPP in Portugal in his student days.

    2) Mr. Kovacs, Hungarian Commissioner for Taxation and the Customs Union - a friend of the Kadar the old dictator in Hungary and for many years a communist apparachik and outspoken opponent of the values that we hold dear in the West.

    3) Mr. Kallas, Estonian Commissioner for Transparancy and Anti-fraud - for 20 years a Soviet Party apparachik. In 2001 he was convicted of supplying false information in a fraud investigation case relating to when he was head of the Bank of Estonia. Not surprising that corruption in the EU is still costing taxpayers £2 million per day then.

    Add to this the anti-democratic stance of the EU (it even legitamises politicians that have been explicitly rejected by their electorate, e.g. Patton (General Election 1992) and ignores the French, Dutch and Irish 'No' votes), and admits to spending £200 million (of your money) on propaganda each year, I'd say that Europe does have a tendency to produce fascists and the EU's philosophy provides the life-blood for them to feed off and prosper.

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  • 164. At 1:56pm on 02 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #157 JorgeG1

    A reasoned, cogently argued post (and, therefore, quite unsuitable for here :-)

    In my early days of Scottish Nationalism (1960's), we used to fulminate against the interest rates set by the UK in the interests of SE England. Terms like "economic imperialism" weren't unknown (I may have used them myself!)

    By the late 1980's many had realised that we were in an increasingly inter-dependent world, and had moved on to see England as a potential partner in a much wider Union and that required some rethinking of what sovereignty meant.

    In the 21st century, I wish the British (including those up here) would move on from the same kind of "separatist" thinking that was our kind of Nationalism 40 years ago.

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  • 165. At 2:24pm on 02 Feb 2009, LogicalJack wrote:

    to (157) JorgeG1

    "At what point does one country lose its sovereignty? Or, do you lose your sovereignty if you leave interest rates in the hands of unelected technocrats in the ECB instead of in the hands unelected technocrats in the BoE?"

    A false comparison, old boy.

    What matters is control and accountability. They may be unelected technocrats at the BoE but they are *our* unelected technocrats and not *your* unelected technocrats at the ECB. The HMG still has the power to control their remit according to whatever it deems is in the interest of the British people and, if necessary, have the Treasury take back control of interest rates (I'm not suggesting it does but the just making the point that it could if it wanted to) - and of course HMG's policy and performance ultimately is judged by the British people - hence we know and feel that the BoE belong to *us*. On the other hand, if the the UK was in the Eurozone then the UK's power over your unelected technocrats at the ECB would be, well, compromised to put it mildly, and that's not good enough when we are talking about safe-guarding our livelihoods.

    Simple. Or do you believe that citizens should not be connected to their national banks in this way?

    Yes, sovereignty is about being in control therefore ceding control to a 3rd party is a loss of sovereignty and the BoE, by the above argument, is not a 3rd party.

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  • 166. At 2:43pm on 02 Feb 2009, Fionavroom wrote:

    As already mentioned, the discussion on the merits of the Euro happens mainly in the countries that did not adopt it, with the exception of Ireland. Here there is a very malevolent campaign by some anti-EU lobby that appeared from the blue just before the Lisbon Treaty referendum. Now I read on this forum (again) that the demise of the Irish economy is mostly due to the low interest rates in the Eurozone. The Celtic Tiger was the biggest mass hallucination in Irish history: we kept selling each other badly-built or decrepit property at over-inflated prices and borrowed well above our capacity from easygoing banks. At some point the system imploded and we are left here to pick up the debris and the debts. As for the competitivity of the Irish system, well, it is no more and Dell has moved to better places. If we were not in the Eurozone we would be in a situation very similar to Iceland.

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  • 167. At 3:02pm on 02 Feb 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    Mark..one cant post comments on your newest entry...

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  • 168. At 3:03pm on 02 Feb 2009, omegaMelody wrote:


    "Germany has at the moment. On President, on Army one Parliament."

    One Parliamant? You forgot the sixteen parliaments of Bavaria, Hamburg, Berlin, Lower Saxony ... and one president with absolute no power ...

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  • 169. At 3:14pm on 02 Feb 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    padav01 @159 wrote:

    "I feel an overwhelming sense of pity for you, living in a narrow, bitter, twisted and introverted environment, railing against the slow but inexorable progress of European integration."

    Thank you for your sneering condescension.

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  • 170. At 3:35pm on 02 Feb 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    Just a note...

    From few of the comments here I have gathered that in regards of Black Wednesday in 1992, some or even many in Britain hold or blame German reluctance to lower its interest rates as the reason on why Pound had devaluation.

    As a remainder from Wikipedia:

    "On Black Wednesday (September 16, 1992), Soros became immediately famous when he sold short more than $10 billion worth of pounds, profiting from the Bank of England's reluctance to either raise its interest rates to levels comparable to those of other European Exchange Rate Mechanism countries or to float its currency.

    "Finally, the Bank of England was forced to withdraw the currency from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and to devalue the pound sterling, and Soros earned an estimated US$ 1.1 billion in the process. He was dubbed "the man who broke the Bank of England."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros

    "Some commentators, following Norman Tebbit took to referring to ERM as an "Eternal Recession Mechanism"[2], after the UK fell into recession during the early 1990s. The UK spent over £6bn trying to keep the currency within the narrow limits, spending the Gold reserves.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Exchange_Rate_Mechanism

    I just find it strange to blame either Germany for having too high interest rates or Britain being part of the ERM. system. From my view point, and from the view point of many others, the fault of different currencies being speculated and devaluated wasn't because of Germany, not because of British ERM membership and not even because George Soros. The reason why currencies were successfully speculated was essentially because the central banks in UK, Sweden or Finland just didn't have enough power and resources to stand in the wind.

    In here the thoughts were A) our financial policies were failed, B) our central bank policies were failed, and C) our currency for its small size would always fail when seriously speculated, thus the only way forward in the long term would be to take part in a process or structure that would give us a powerful and stable currency.

    I can vividly remember that when Finland in 1997/1998 had public debate and discussions about joining the monetary union, one rational for joining the monetary union was that it would be safe from speculators. Actually I would say many people regarded this very highly, for example I can remember my own father coming enthusiastically proclaiming "you know son why we must join the monetary union?! its because after that George Soros can't speculate with our money!".

    In this backdrop it has always seemed so strange on why Sweden and Denmark didn't join the Euro and especially it seems very strange that many people in Britain regard ERM as the reason for Pound crashing and not the fact that BoE wasn't capable on taking on against speculators.

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  • 171. At 3:36pm on 02 Feb 2009, oldnat wrote:

    #165 LogicalJack

    Tonto to the Lone Ranger "What do you mean by 'us' paleface?"

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  • 172. At 3:50pm on 02 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    Very funny, Logicaljack.
    You may not have noticed, but Napoleon is dead. This is not a recent event. Napoleon, Hitler and Mussolini are pretty much the reason why the EU exists today; to avoid such stupidity (before you make any more humorous remarks).
    Franco? Bad example, as he gained power through a coup d'état, so as legitimate as Gordon, then. Also he's not considered a "fascist", more incredibly conservative and traditionalist.
    As you have pointed out, Dictator doesn't automatically imply fascist.
    Communism is a different kettle of fish, and pretty much dead too...

    But if you want to list individuals, how come you haven't mentioned Sir Oswald Moseley? Harold Covington? David Myatt? Eoin O'Duffy? I think you could make quite a long list with very little research...

    But seen as how you decided to make a list I'll rephrase my question to what you know full well I meant:

    If continental Europe is full of fascists; where are they? I see no political parties in power advocating military expansionism, statist nationalism, autocracy, homophobia and eugenics...

    The only form of overt nationalism I've seen recently is "British jobs for British workers", and the UKIP ramblings on here.
    Sarkozy is good for the odd idiotic right-wing sound bite too, I'll grant you that.

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  • 173. At 3:52pm on 02 Feb 2009, Ticape wrote:

    #163. LogicalJack

    Napoleon... a fascist? In that case why not mention Cromwell, he fits rather well with the other leaders you mentioned.

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  • 174. At 3:54pm on 02 Feb 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 165, LogicalJack

    Fine, your argument is about *keeping our pound in the name of keeping our sovereignty*. I disagree with it, but that’s by the by. The problem is that the vast majority of the anti-EU brigade disguises their hate for the euro (as part of their hate towards anything related to the EU) in the name of supposedly informed economic arguments, such as the *one-size-fits-all* or the *look at how the British economy is growing so much faster than the sclerotic Eurozone* that was in vogue for much of the past decade, e.g. read post 135, in case you have not done so. When the mythical *dynamism* of the British economy was proven to be smoke and mirrors made with trillions of debt, then the anti-EU camp reverted to *tried and tested* arguments such as *the Eurozone is about to collapse as a result to the one-size-fits-all interest rates*.

    By the way, somebody should tell the 16 Eurozone countries that they have ceased to exist as sovereign countries. Has somebody informed wikipedia, a.o.? I suggest you edit this page yourself to put things right:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states

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  • 175. At 4:01pm on 02 Feb 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #160 - oldnat

    ". . . like its Home Office) "not fit for purpose".

    Nothing to do with the euro but, now you come to mention it, what on earth do we still need Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Offices for never mind that antiquated old dinosaur The Home Department?

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  • 176. At 4:58pm on 02 Feb 2009, Charles Cara wrote:

    I am going to vouch for tuairimiocht's comment that David McWilliam did not first use the phrase Celtic Tiger.

    It first used in Morgan Stanley Economics report. I was there, when the title was thought up an Editor called Connor McGillicuddy.



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  • 177. At 5:00pm on 02 Feb 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    pandav01 and Comment 161 that, "the European Union is a work in progress"

    Thanks for partially concurring with my Comment131, Points 1 through 4 (what about 5 to 10?) objections to the EU.

    However, I found nothing to assuage my concerns in anything you wrote about the EU.

    According to you, "... the EU is a work in progress..": No argument from me.
    Only disagree that any part of that 'work' has any appeal or advantage for the British/English Citizen.

    You claim the EU has a 'Rubicon threshold' where it achieves "..concensus of European disposition..":
    Again, no quarrel with whatever Brussels intends to do in its gradual takeover of the entire European mainland geographical mass and thereby the body politic. Those EUro-lemmings are free to do as they wish.

    My opinion is that 'threshold' is not a river containing a bountiful and benificent Brussels democratic regime the British/English Citizens have shown in the past or indicate have any intention of crossing over to in the future. Almost 2,000 years of developing individual Citizen's Rights and Responsibilities sees no reason for British/English Citizens to take the plungeand abandon all that history, culture, heritage!

    A mainland United States of Europe is a wonderful thing from the Brussels-Paris-Berlin-Rome perspective: No more internecine wars, stability of trade, currency and travel etc. That same U.S.E. has no attraction to the Islands of BRITAIN which do not share any of those basic concerns.

    For anti-EU Citizens such as myself the EU is founded on and represents anti-democratic hierarchial structures and administrative processes anathema to British/English political-social-judicial interests.

    Your view that the EU is tied to the "primacy" of member States is a figment of Brussels' propaganda! How else could an unelected Msr Barosso be pronouncing on everything from Trade to Monetary Policy to Foreign Affairs to a European Defence Force? The last 3 EU Presidents (for want of a better description) have all publicly used the term "Federal project" and implied it is not 'if' but 'when' it should develop, rather as you suggest in the "work in progress" image.

    As 70%+ of British/English Citizens have consistently opposed membership of the present EU never mind the grossly overmighty Federalisation project it is a 'work' that will not be allowed to 'progress' by any popular vote of the GB-English Citizens. This fact is of course well known to Brussels and Westminster and therefore that Public is specifically denied a voice.

    Unfortunately the Democratic will of the British/English Citizen has and is being denied by National Governments in the Westminster Parliament since PM Thatcher signed the Maastricht Treaty. Mainstream British/English Political Parties have of course so many fingers in the corrupted EU political system and the venal EU pie that none will stand with the Citizens.

    To continue would rehearse familiar arguments, so best I finish by stipulating yet again: Opponents of the EU want their English birthright returned to them. Nothing less will do. Patience amongst the 'antis' IS wearing thin in these Islands. UK/EU Governments would do well to realise how fragile their hold on the tools of power has become as this issue continues unresolved by the anti-democratic denial of a UK Referendum on EU Membership.

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  • 178. At 6:36pm on 02 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    #177

    Summary of the 5 May 2005 House of Commons of the United Kingdom election results:
    UKIP
    seats 0
    Votes 603,298
    Votes (%) 2,2

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  • 179. At 7:42pm on 02 Feb 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 178 G-in-Belgium

    Don’t worry, this is part of the Anti-EU camp's cunning plan. They vote UKIP to represent them at the European Parliament, where they have ZERO chance of pushing their *get their UK out of the EU* agenda (the EU parliament is not, as far as I know, competent to push or influence individual EU countries to get out of the EU), but will NOT, repeat NOT, vote them for the UK parliament, which, the UK being a sovereign country, has all the power to do exactly that: revoke the UKs Accession Treaty (preferrably asking the British people in a referendum) and negotiate an orderly exit from the EU, as contemplated by the Lisbon Treaty.

    Not even Baldrick could have devised such a cunning plan.

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  • 180. At 8:04pm on 02 Feb 2009, JorgeG wrote:

    @ 106 jordanbasset

    *A little balance would help. The U.K. has worked hard to challenge and deal with racism and do not think slurs such as the U.K. is adopting 'a whitening agenda' accurate or useful in this debate.*

    I was re-reading your post and thought that I needed, for the record, to set the record straight.

    I am satisfied that, dreadful as this government is, it is not about to embark on an ethnic cleansing campaign :)

    What I meant is that HMG, in time honoured fashion, wanted to have it both ways. Business was telling HMG that, as Gordo had taxed medium-to-low paid British based workers out of the jobs market (there is, or was at the time, little incentive, after tax, to work for the minimum wage, better on benefits many rightly think/thought), they needed more cheap semi-skilled labour. At the same time HMG was worried about what their focus groups and the Daily Mail were saying about their patience with immigration wearing thin. In the years preceding the 2004 EU enlargement, when HMG had abolished boom-and-bust, they saw their dreams come true. Hey pronto, ask our advertising agency to shoot some ads featuring Tony saying *Come to the UK, we have got a job for you* and run them 24/7 in Polish television, dubbed in Polish of course. This is not a joke; it is what a Polish friend reliably tells me.

    At the same time, as I have got family connections with the Caribbean, this door of cheap labour was being drastically tightened: until then Citizens of Caribbean Commonwealth countries did not need a visa to come to the UK. That changed, of course, and the visa requirement was speedily introduced.

    The rest, as they say is history.

    If only HMG had followed the EU consensus. Apply a transitional period with respect to full working rights for new entrants and join Schengen.

    Oh no, they are toooooooooooooooooooo clever for that. They studied at Oxbridge.

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  • 181. At 9:37pm on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    159. At 12:38pm on 02 Feb 2009, padav01 wrote:

    "...

    SB2 - thanks for your response

    It is now obvious to me that your disposition and motivations are rooted in blind unswerving nationalism..."

    Not true!

    I am not a nationalist. I feel inclined to think that I would rather be Swiss, Norwegian, Canadian, Australian or a New Zealander at the moment.

    My main concern is not to be in a political union with the peoples who gave the world Marxism, Fascism, the Inquisition ad the Mafia.


    " ...Precisely the kind of blinkered sentiment that led Europe into three utterly ruinous internecine conflicts between 1870 and 1939 - one hopes that Europeans now have a different way of doing things? ..."

    I dispute that. I do not wish to attack anybody.

    " ...I feel an overwhelming sense of pity for you, living in a narrow, bitter, twisted and introverted environment, railing against the slow but inexorable progress of European integration. Maybe you should cut yourself off from the real world and retreat into a kind of virtual pre Suez romanticised setting - you'd certainly be a lot more content?"

    I believe that "EU"-lovers are the dangerous nationalists. Their "nation" is the "EU". Their hate-focus is the USA. You want to militarise the "EU" thus providing it with the ability to attack and invade. The war "EU" vs USA could be worse than WWII.


    As regards the Suez reference: This is presumably another version of the claim that the problems the Brits have with the "EU" are related to the "loss of empire."

    I don't want the empire back. I do believe a lot of African countries would be better of if we recolonised them. We can't afford it.

    It could end up with the tanks of your "EU" army burning on the streets of England. Do us all a favour and help to get the UK out of the "EU".

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  • 182. At 9:38pm on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    To padav01

    Do you get paid to post here?

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  • 183. At 9:38pm on 02 Feb 2009, Padav wrote:

    @ikamaskeip

    I suppose I should have been more specific and said that European integration is a work in progress.

    Like you I am deeply critical of the form integration has taken to date, certainly in terms of its political manifestation in the guise of the EU, aka EC & EEC before that.

    However, unlike you I remain utterly convinced that the destiny of the inhabitants of this island you refer to, is essentially European in nature.

    So it's not really a case of the EU reaching any dramatic turning point, rather I am referring to European public opinion because only then can the serious and substantive engagement between all Europeans take place in an atmosphere of constructive pragmatism; a realisation that we do share many common values and beliefs, spawning many more common goals and aspirations.

    Therefore whilst I empathise with many of the visceral objections you harbour toward the EU in its present form; ironically, criticisms that can also be aimed fairly and squarely at the UK's dysfunctional democracy, my solutions are founded on a diametrically opposite methodology.

    I can only describe your interpretation of the EU's current structure as sheer fantasy - sure, Mr. Barroso can grandstand to a media audience about this, that or the other policy initiative but in reality, that's all it is - so much hot air. In the EU president we always get the least worst candidate appointed (not elected) by a cabal of member state leaders, who can blackball any one of the nominees simply because they don't fancy their ideas.

    When push comes to shove on the European stage who actually calls the shots - it's the Council of Ministers/European Council - ie. the member state govts. (in particular the big players, Germany, France, UK and to a lesser degree, Spain, Italy, Sweden & Poland - the rest are only bit part players in the circus)

    Finally, if we're dealing in facts, rather than subjective opinion, let's recall that the entire EU budget accounts for approx 1.6% of total GDP (across the EU) or a level equivalent to about 1/25th of the UK's current public spending, so whilst important, not really that significant?

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  • 184. At 9:43pm on 02 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    To padav01

    Have you ever complained about the fact that the Brits were promised a referendum on the Constitution/Lisbon Thingy and have not been given one?

    Do you understand how that must make many feel that the "EU" does not even have a right to exist?

    Do you understand that your "EU" will have nothing but trouble with us unless we get that referendum?

    Do you understand that may Brits agree with me, at least in good measure?

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  • 185. At 9:59pm on 02 Feb 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To SuffolkBoy2 (184):

    For crying out loud...

    Its not the job of the rest of the Europe to intervene in the functioning of the British democracy.

    The only thing that matter for the rest of Europe is that you are a democracy. As you have timely elections where you elect your representatives in your parliament and who form a cabinet to govern your county, then how on earth does the rest of the Europe have any right or need to intervene in the functioning of this process?

    If you are unsatisfied with the British government, with the state of British democracy, its your job to fix it. Its not the job rest of the Europe to intervene in your behalf. Its your country, its your democracy, and its your responsibility to look after it.

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  • 186. At 10:11pm on 02 Feb 2009, pciii wrote:

    JorgeG1 #157 It seems to me that your logic is flawed on this one. You seem to be saying that national control of interest rates etc is only of use in the times outside of recession, you then go on to tell us that most of the time, economies are not in recession, so the Euro is better. Erm, the Euro may be better, I don't have an opinion yet, but not by this part of your own argument.

    #157 & Passmeby #162. I understand the point you're trying to make with regional, national and local differences in GDP per capita. it's not a flawed argument, but there's certainly some mileage (kilometreage?!) in taking it to it's logical conclusion, which is that the highest GDPs seem to be in the (financial)decision making centres. To a Euro sceptic this means that in the long term, wherever decisions are made on the Euro, will be the richest places. This will inevitably be further (both in terms of distance and thinking) from the poorest areas. Is a rich Brussels or Berlin any more useful to someone in Hull than a rich London is?

    I suppose the flipside of the argument is that you would aim to simultaneously instigate a single currency with increased regional devolution of powers to ensure that handouts (sorry redistribution of wealth) are spent sensibly in the outlying parts of the Union. Based on recent votes, it's fair to say that the British are reasonably unhappy with this principle (with the possible exception of devolution of power to actual nations such as Scotland and Wales), whether it's just a personality trait or based on an assessment of the efficiencies of such systems is largely irrelevant.

    Finally, I'll say it again (yawn) as a fence sitter, I've been used to some largely emotional (sometimes offensive) Euro Skeptic arguments over the years. But now there seems to be some genuine evidence (or at least potential evidence) against the Euro currency, I'm genuinely appalled at the condescending nature of the pro-Euro comments on this and other blogs. Let's stop behaving like children please.

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  • 187. At 10:59pm on 02 Feb 2009, LogicalJack wrote:

    To 177. G-in-Belgium:

    Summary of European Parliament elections 2004:
    1. Conservative 4,397,090 votes, 26.7%.
    2. Labour 3,718,683 votes, 22.6%.
    3. UKIP 2,650,768 votes, 16.1%.
    4. Lib-Dem 2,452,327 votes, 14.9%
    5. Green 1,028,283 votes, 6.3%

    ..and your point is...?

    To 174. JorgeG1:

    Careful, matey, you're insulting your own intelligence. *Read* my post. I said:-

    "Sovereignty is about being in control therefore ceding control to a 3rd party is a loss of sovereignty..."

    ...as a simple definition of what sovereignty is. By the same token total sovereignty is something that you can divide into pieces, keep the bits that you want and give away the other bits that you don't want. The definition doesn't suggest that giving away one power, such as the legal right to operate a central bank, constitutes the giving away of all powers, so don't be daft. Had I written '...is the loss of sovereignty' (bad grammar, I know) instead of '...is a loss of sovereignty' then you would have had a case. You knew this and are just trying to be mischievious for the sake of it.

    Going back to your comments at post no.157 which was "That leaves IMO only one real argument in the anti-EU camp: The sovereignty argument, which becomes more of an article of faith or dogma rather than an empirically measurable argument:" therefore is false by the fact that we can measure our sovereignty by the amount of control over our own lives that we retain via the UK's democratic system and the amount of control that we lack because our politicians have negotiated it away in a series of compromising horse-trading-style deals with other governments *without* consulting us first. You seem to be trying to diminish the sovereignty factor as rather academic and irrelevant which is your big mistake. You need to grasp the basics of how people work.


    To 172. G-in-Belgium.

    The "continentals have a tendency to produce fascists" sub-debate continued...

    First point...

    You haven't challenged my point about the EU legitimising totalitarians such as Commissioners Barosso, Kavacs and Kallas that supports the claim that continentals do have a tendency to produce fascists. You have not tackled the question of the expensive propaganda machine the EU employs or made comment at all about the legitimisation of rejected politicians. And if we had the time we could rake up lots of examples about political censorship such as the case of the whistle-blower auditor Marta Andreason who Commissioner Kinnock sacked in 2001 because she exposed the grave weaknesses in the EU's financial system. And then there is Mr Cohn-Bendit MEP who got away with saying in the Euro-Parliament that "...the opponents of the (Lisbon) Treaty are mentally ill..." - a comment for which he would have been suspended from the chamber if he'd used it in a debate in Westminster - confirming that the EU will not tolerate dissent against its own dogma (in this case the LT).

    So if you want examples of autocracy and statist nationalism we can start going through the character and personality of the EU itself if you like. I don't think it matters if communism is dead or any other category of government no longer exists. What matters is how to recognise when their philosophies are repackaged, rebranded and served up to us under another name.

    Second point...

    OK, I admit, Napoleon does go back over 200 years. There hasn't been a dictator in England since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which overthrew King James II about 100 years before Napoleon. None of your examples of modern British fascists (after 1900) ever took power, unlike my continental examples. You would do well to consider the question 'why?'. IMO it is because the British people, by a long and sometimes bloody road, have worked through hundreds of years of growing-pains to distill out our own stable and equitable political system - to the best of our ability so far. Still many faults exist but it's ours and we will change it as and when we see fit. And there lies the rub. The EU has to demonstrate itself to be something better than what we have already worked out for ourselves in order for us to accept it.

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  • 188. At 00:34am on 03 Feb 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    185. At 9:59pm on 02 Feb 2009, Jukka_Rohila wrote:

    "To SuffolkBoy2 (184):

    For crying out loud...

    Its not the job of the rest of the Europe to intervene in the functioning of the British democracy.... "

    1) The "EU" is not Europe.

    2) It intervenes in all sorts of things in this country e.g forcing the ridiculous metric system upon us. It intervenes in other countries both inside and outside the "EU". Anti-democratic politicians in other "EU" countries have conspired with anti-democratic politicians in the UK to force this rubbishy dictatorship upon us.



    Further: " ... If you are unsatisfied with the British government, with the state of British democracy, its your job to fix it. Its not the job rest of the Europe to intervene in your behalf. Its your country, its your democracy, and its your responsibility to look after it."

    When I write here I am not just trying to communicate with continentals. I am also trying to communicate with Brits even when superficially I am communicating with you.

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  • 189. At 09:15am on 03 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    #187.

    So the UKIP lost two million votes when it came to national interest. Not bad.
    Barroso, totalitarian? I believe he was elected prime minister of Portugal (via a coalition with a right wing group). I'm sure Portugal is still a democratic Republic...
    I don't know anything about the other two so can't comment.
    I have nothing polite to say about Cohn-Bendit and I'm still amazed Neil Kinnock managed to ever be employed.
    I'm not particularly pro-EU, I enjoy the advantages but get irritated by the bureaucracy and wastefulness of the European entities.
    I see little difference between this and the British governmental system. Gordon Brown was never democratically elected (and probably will never be). The house of Lords?
    I just don't understand how you can vehemently attack one thing and stoutly defend another when they are essentially the same thing, "because it's ours" doesn't make sense to me.
    If you feel like reeling off a list of what you perceive as present day fascists, be my guest :)

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  • 190. At 10:32am on 03 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    SuffolkBoy2
    I don't think you communicate much apart from your unbelievable anti EU paranoia. Look at the world as it is forget the petty nationalism. We have the US, Russia, India, China, Global Warming, they are all real. We Europeans need to cooperate if we are to survive in this world. We have a common heritage, some of is very bloody, but we are all democracies, we all believe in the right to universal health care, education, social justice and in the we are very different from the US Russia and China.
    The next 50 years are going to be a struggle even if Europe unites and cooperates there are going to be a lot of hungry people out there and Europe is going to look very tempting.
    Your message is from the early part of that last century, wake up, the Second World War was over 60 years ago.

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  • 191. At 10:59am on 03 Feb 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    padav01 and the 183 EU.. 'work in progress' for the 'destiny of these islands'.

    Yes, we are diametrically opposed in our views of the present value and future goals of the EU and more especially and critically that of the UK/England.

    For me the idea of a 400 million multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-economy that is also a Democracy is the fantasy that gives credence to mickey mouse as a living, breathing entity!

    The EU in the evolving form you aspire to I find politically baffling, socially debilitating and judicially nightmarish! Why would any ordinary British Citizen seriously consider their individual interests would be better served as a single cog in the 400,000,000?

    Nothing in nature or human history suggest that big is better!

    Just to take a simple analogy: In the UK since the setting up of the nationwide Welfare State, almost every Report on Education in Schools or Treatment in the Health Service has roundly condemned the effects of ever larger Schools and Hospitals with 'one-size-fits-all' approach to customers. The Reports regularly highlight how individual Pupil/Patient needs are overlooked or dealt with in a less than considerate or useful and productive manner. Pupil/Patient environment-social-physical needs have been neglected as bureaucratic-economic factors become the yardstick for measuring turnover instead of quality. And, that's just within Britain as Britons educate and care for Britons in British public services!

    Where is the One Citizen Cog in your proposed EU CONGLOMERATE?

    When the Politician of France, Portugal, Bulgaria, Estonia is debating and pronouncing on what is best in EU Law for Citizen Cog in the 400,000,000 will they have more or less chance to be accurate in their concerns and decisions than a National Politician? As you rightly state national politics has all the faults I aim at the EU, but, in which political-entity are they more likely to be addressed and amended-reformed to the interets and benefit of Citizen Cog?

    Frankly, I fear, my present 'visceral' objections to the EU are nothing compared to the fate of Citizen Cog in the after-life of your EU. It was the mythical Procrustes who forced men into 1 of 2 beds by either stretching their limbs or cutting them off: In all seriousness it is Citizen Cog's future in a European Union.

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  • 192. At 10:59am on 03 Feb 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    188. SuffolkBoy2:

    "Its not the job of the rest of the Europe to intervene in the functioning of the British democracy.... "

    I can't see why you would think that they might want to.

    "1) The "EU" is not Europe."

    Agreed. So?

    "2) It intervenes in all sorts of things in this country e.g forcing the ridiculous metric system upon us. "

    I've tried explaining to you before that metric was actually thought up by an Englishman before the French "pinched" it and I've tried explaining to you that the UK was trying to go metric long before joining the EEC (look up the history of the British Metrication Board). Carry on arguing against the EU if you must but please drop this argument. On this point at least - you are wrong. Full stop. As to Imperial measurements, well can you say, quickly, how many ounces there are in 7 stone?

    I'm beginning to wonder if your experiences in Germany aren't signs of a chicken and egg conundrum. Did they not want you because of your attitude or is your attitude because they didn't want you?

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  • 193. At 11:06am on 03 Feb 2009, spectacularBarry wrote:

    Being in the euro would be the absolute worst thing that could have happened for Britain. We would be stuck with the foreign bankers doing what is good for germany, instead of what is good for us, and as we have no say in what happens in europe we couldn't do anything about it. What we need to do if we want to get out of the recession is to leave the eu. It is not our major trading area as far as exports are concerned, in fact we have a negative trade balance with europe, and a positive one outside of it.

    Eu micromanagement and regulations cost our buisiness' £billions every year, and the work time directive is about to plunge the NHS into an irretrevable crisis, as hospitals won't be able to be adequately staffed.

    The U.K. has never benefited from membership of this corruption riddled democratically deficient foreign club, just look at the damage the erm did when we were part of it as a means of joining the euro, and we have been net contributers to the eu since heath dumped us into the so called common market in the 70's. Since then we have lost entire industries, the foreigners are taking our fish stocks, farmers have been lead to ruin, our vital utilities have been sold to foreigners, and the major source of income to the country, the banks have gone bust. Now we are losing jobs to foreigners who don't add to our economy whatsoever. Our only hope is to leave the eu entirely, and the sooner the better for all of us, who aren't politicians.

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  • 194. At 12:21pm on 03 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    According to the OECD, The UK economy has progressed from 23rd in 1970 to 12th in the world today. Based (as someone rightly pointed out) on smoke and mirrors.
    The 'damage' when we quit the ERM was self inflicted, the damage was very short lived and gave a direct boost to the economy without any significant inflation.
    The closed industries were self inflicted, as the average employee believed in striking, and being paid for no work, or doing a very, very crap job (BL). Rover's demise can be directly attributed to the 70's. Most things produced in the UK are still rubbish, that's why you see so many Japanese and German cars, Korean TV sets, Chinese toasters. People will still import French, Italian, Australian (etc..) wine, apples... you name it.
    Vital utilities? Self inflicted, privatised then sold off all in the name of money. Building societies were greedy, wanted to be banks, now are going bust.
    Oh, and all these "foreigners, pinching our jobs and scrounging off the state" wouldn't be there if the locals had got off their fat posteriors and not considered certain jobs beneath them. Self inflicted once again.

    Do you want to throw all those dirty immigrants - who have been steadily arriving for about 100,000 generations - out Barry? Where are your ancestors from?

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  • 195. At 2:10pm on 03 Feb 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII, at 102, makes the rather caustic point that the state of the Euro is fairly hard to know.

    As he points out, the ECB operates behind closed doors, and it has never taken much trouble to offer a straight set of books to anyone.

    I would go further. I would point out that over the past twenty years, 25% of the world's reserve currencies have become euro. That is to say, in plain english, that every country in the world has been buying euros until 25% of what they hold is in euros.

    That explains the slide of the dollar, and it also explains the rise of the value of the euro.

    But it doesn't explain the levels of artificial debt that underpin the Euro. Only the ECB know that secret, and anyone who suggests that the ECB is transparent in this regard is as mad as a pocket full of centipedes.

    In short, for all any of us know, the Euro is in worse shape than the dollar or the pound. At least in the USA and the UK, there is a legal tradition of having to publish your debt to equity ratio, if you are a financial institution.

    In Europe, the whole situation is unbelievably soviet, insofar as it is not possible to understand the true state of play. There is no democratic tradition that forces the central bank to open its' book to the parliament or congress. Indeed, the entire founding documents of the EU give unprecedented power over the Euro to a non elected, non transparent body: The ECB.

    Again, as MarcusAureliusII noted earlier, the states who joined the Euro have given up a crucially important aspect of their sovereignty in order (ostensibly) to reduce cross border exchange fees.

    Putin and Co. may speak of the need for a new world order in finance, but there is every possibility that we may need to return to the old order, the old way of doing business. That is, where currencies are pegged to a material standard, such as gold, or more realistically an "energy standard", where one joule of energy is the basis for one unit of currency.

    Because if people lose faith in the euro, and that 25% of worldwide reserve currencies hit the open market all at once, Europe will fall apart faster than a cream bun hitting a jet turbine.

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  • 196. At 3:11pm on 03 Feb 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To democracythreat (195):

    What? You have many things wrong in your post.

    The Euro came into life in 1.1.1999 and just celebrated its 10th anniversary. When Euro was formed it inherited from its predecessor currencies position of 17,9% of world currency reserves. In a decade it has increased its share into 26.5% (2007).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_currency

    Artificial debt that underpin the Euro? ECB is an central bank, central banks don't loan from the markets, they loan to the markets. Further on ECB doesn't have authority or mandate to loan money to member states. In other words ECB can't 'print money' like the Fed and BoE can and are doing by buying government bonds.

    The ECB itself is very open on what it is doing and for why. What ECB doesn't tell is what happened and what was discussed by the individual members of the governing council to make sure that members states can't pressure members to make decisions according to their will. ECB works the same as the German Bundesbank worked: its independent and its sole aim is to support price stability, make sure inflation is in 2,0%.

    What goes on to the place of Euro as an reserve currency that is straightly linked to the share Eurozone and EU of world gross production. With straight GDP (nominal) comparison USd share would be 25% and Euro have share of 22%. However currency becomes a reserve currency via its usability and belief on its usability in the future. In previous times US has enjoyed that truest, but with the introduction of Euro the Eurozone and the EU also enjoy it. Now as the EU is the largest economy in the world, as its growing both internally and via ascension of new countries, Euro should be the leading reserve currency, and that is a place that it will take in time.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    "Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in September 2007 that the euro could replace the U.S. dollar as the world's primary reserve currency. It is "absolutely conceivable that the euro will replace the dollar as reserve currency, or will be traded as an equally important reserve currency."[3] Econometric analysis suggests the euro may replace the U.S. dollar as the major reserve currency by 2020 if: (1) the remaining EU members, including the UK, adopt the Euro by 2020 or (2) the recent depreciation trend of the dollar persists into the future.[4]

    The thing is that there are no questions marks about the future of both ECB and Euro. They are only becoming stronger via EU integration and via enlargement of the Eurozone system.

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  • 197. At 3:38pm on 03 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    spectacularBarry
    We would be stuck with the foreign bankers doing what is good for!!!!. What you mean unlike the American Bankers doing what was good for them?
    All you little Engerlanders amaze me. There is no logic to your arguements you cherry pick facts to suit your case. For example the ERM I remember the ERM and the damage you say it did but the problem wasn;t the ERM it was the crazy incompetent government and the very incompetent chancellor who was truly 'lamontable'
    Britain has very grave problems the Europe has problems but Britain without the EU will I suspect have even greater problems.
    It's a hard world and getting harder. Remember 'united we stand and divided we fall' and Britain outside the EU is one small overpopulated island with a very weak currency very little industry and poor prospects.

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  • 198. At 3:42pm on 03 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    democracythreat
    Quoting MarcusAureliusII in any argument is a sign that you have lost the plot. By his own admission his sole purpose in visiting these blogs is to stir the pot.

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  • 199. At 3:51pm on 03 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    #193 spectacularBarry
    'our vital utilities have been sold to foreigners'
    This is very true, sold to foreigners by stupid Brits who were conned into buying their own property by Margaret Thatcher. They then proceeded to sell those shares off to make themselves some easy money. The fact that EDF and others now own large chunks of British Utilities is not their fault, they are merely following the 'market forces' so beloved of M Thatcher and her tribe.

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  • 200. At 7:22pm on 03 Feb 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jukka_Rohila :

    I stand corrected. Thank you for that information regarding the relative levels of reserve currencies pre and post Euro, it is most interesting. So if the Euro collapsed and were sold off to pre EU levels, it would only lose 40% of its value. Interesting.

    however regarding:

    "Artificial debt that underpin the Euro? ECB is an central bank, central banks don't loan from the markets, they loan to the markets."

    I am aware that central banks lend to the market. But they are still banks. They still have a debt to equity ratio. As you point out, the core idea is to restrain inflation. However, they must still estimate how much the economy is worth before they can begin to calculate and then restrain inflation. This value of the economy is their equity. The money they lend out is their debt.

    My point is that the Euro has been valued according to overall levels of trade, not according to any material standard. Therefore it has been valued according to the perceived worth of the economy, including the worth of hedge funds and huge financial corporations that have been engaging in market speculation.

    And my further point is that the process of calculating the value of these firms, and the trade they produce, has been very far from transparent. The value of the European economy has been very much what the ECB says it has been.

    But now that the cat is out of the bag, and we understand that all the hedge funds and ponzi schemes of the financial derivative traders are worth nothing, what is the consequence for the value of the european economy?

    Because if the European economy is seen to have been overvalued, the amount of money lent out by the ECB to european banks must also be over and above a realistic figure. And in that case, the value of the euro must fall relative to real material commodities, or in other words, inflation must rise.

    At the end of the day, and that is coming up pretty fast, the value of an economy can and must be measured in real material wealth. Gold is no longer viable, and it appears that we will see a call for a "joule standard", where the relative value of currencies is dictated by the energy available to their relative economies.

    And you must agree that if this is the case for the future, the EU is in a very poor position.

    You speak loudly about the might of the euro, and the size of the european economy. I put it to you that we can't pretend to know what these numbers mean anymore. How are you valuing this grand european economy?

    By the value of trade?

    That is a farce. Up until six months ago, every major financial institution in Europe was generating vast sums of money. Men in suits were trading little pieces of paper backwards and forth, gambling of the future prospects of future prospects. THIS was dutifully added up and called the grand value of the glorious european economy.

    No more. It is all now worthless, and indeed it always was worthless. There can be no value in the trading of hedge fund stock, just as there can be no value in the "work" of a man who goes to the horse races and places bets with money he inherited. It is phoney, it generates nothing of sustainable value. Nobody can eat from the profits of gamblers, sir.

    And that is why all your claims about the grand value and strength of the glorious european economy are hollow. Europe has no energy reserves, scant material resources, and it manufactures goods in a world where manufacturing is becoming easier and easier for developing countries.

    Russia has the oil, the steel and a population who are prepared to work hard.

    Now tell me about how inferior their prospects are compared to the wonderous european elite, and I will listen with a reasonable degree of skepticism.


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  • 201. At 7:27pm on 03 Feb 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "Quoting MarcusAureliusII in any argument is a sign that you have lost the plot. By his own admission his sole purpose in visiting these blogs is to stir the pot."

    Perhaps I have and perhaps he does.

    Neverthless, the quality of his writing is engaging, and I believe I am permitted to favour a worldview if I think it holds some water.

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  • 202. At 9:37pm on 03 Feb 2009, SusL77 wrote:

    I'm glad blogging can affect political outcomes, it shows that democracy has a new vehicle of growth but like any other device there are also drawbacks to technology being used as a mass medium ie the rigging of pageants and elections.

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  • 203. At 09:01am on 04 Feb 2009, JM wrote:

    Thing is for the normal german the euro was the worst thing to ever happen here.

    as the Euro came in a lot of prices doubled overnight-some shops just replaced the DM for a € sign.

    Good example - my local chip shop sell his chips for 2DM-On the 1 Jan he put the price up to 1€30(2.60 DM!).

    Germany would be better off without the Euro-It will never happen because all the politicians are Pro-European where as the population(67%) wanted to keep the Deutsche Mark.

    Referemdems are NOT allowed in the german constitution why then?(Because they would have lost!)

    The only people who profit here are companies because of the exchange rate.

    Also the german central bank can´t alter intrest rates at this time without the ECB doing it and the govt. has really very little control over fiscal policy.

    Whats worse is that about 75% of all laws are passed(with no democratic vote through the EU Commission) in Brüssels.

    Alot of these laws are against the german constitution (for example recording all data from telefon calls+internet over 6 mths) which makes things worse.

    For me is the EU more of a political project arising from WW2 as really necessary.

    Do we really want a United States of Europe?

    Plz all Brits out there(i´m a Brit too but live in Germany)-If a vote for the Euro comes say NO!

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  • 204. At 10:31am on 04 Feb 2009, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    "Good example - my local chip shop sell his chips for 2DM-On the 1 Jan he put the price up to 1?30(2.60 DM!)."

    To me that says: The chippy owner is an unethical profiteer - unless the price of potatoes, chip fat or whatever also jumped by 30%.

    I suspect the former.

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  • 205. At 11:18am on 04 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    It always amuses me the way in which anti Europeans use two arguments to justify their dislike of the European project. The first is the 'one size fits all' complaint especially with regard to the Euro. This ignores the fact that the US$ which until recently was the worlds most successful currency was just that 'one size fits all' It worked even though the per capita income of say Lousiana is less than a quarter of that of California.
    The other argument that having your own currency allows you freedom of manoeuvre is also clearly a nonsense in this age of globalism. The Bank of England has been forced to lower rates and make exactly the same moves as the ECB but with far less impact than the moves made by the ECB. Look at the history of the £ to € interest rates over the past few years they track each other albeit with the £ rates being higher than € rates to the detriment of the UK economy and it's people. High interest rates mean high operating costs.
    The oft repeated comments about the introduction of the Euro causing inflationary price rises is another red herring. The same thing happened when decimal currency was brought in in the UK. People seized the chance to raise prices, it's simple human greed. We didn't go back to £sd though and you won't be going back the the franc the dm or anything else either. The Euro works, it's been highly successful and if the UK had been in it five years ago the current loss of 30% of the worth of UK inc. would not have happened.
    As for the comment above about 75% of Germany's laws being passed by the EU it's hardly worth a comment apart from 'I don't believe it', it's the usual anti EU rubbish served up with no proof just repetition in the hope that people will finally believe it. The technique of 'the big lie' as perfected by the unlovely Mr Karl Rove.

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  • 206. At 11:59am on 04 Feb 2009, U4466131 wrote:

    This is a complaint. If the system can't handle £ that is the symbol for pound sterling or € the symbol for the Euro should you not tell us Mark? My post above has been rendered nearly meaningless because of this. It probably was anyway but I've said it to save some of you saying it.

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  • 207. At 3:25pm on 04 Feb 2009, JM wrote:

    So here is an article in German about the EU laws being passed in german law-:

    http://www.macroanalyst.de/kernv-pos-einz-wzb.htm

    Basically in the last few ywaes nearly 85% of all laws been passed have an european background.

    By enviroment laws 84% are directly from Brussels,labour and laws to with with the police etc are 20% from Brussels.

    Laws governing things from the size of bananas to laws threatening your privacy on the Net are directly decided by unelected commisioners(For example Vivane Reding-he husband is the CEO of Universal Music-She is the commissioner in charge of copyright laws-Abuse of position anyone?),rubber stamped by (sometimes bulldozed through) the european parliment and countries like germany hide behind some legislation that its an EU directive and WE must put it into national law!

    As for the 30% by the chippy-That was just 1 example-The euro cost business about 9 billion dm-a lot of firms used the euro to make hefty price increases where as wages didn´t go up so much making many europeans a lot worse off!

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  • 208. At 08:06am on 05 Feb 2009, menckenite wrote:

    FYI the "former Irish bank official" who suggested that Ireland should ditch the EURO is David McWilliams once an economist with the Central Bank and now a newspaper columnist. He wrote that if an economist from Mars visited Ireland he would see that Euro membership restricted the country's course of actions.

    A surprising comment since all economists seem to be from Mars.

    Mencken was right when he wrote "If all the economists on earth were laid from end to end they wouldn't reach a conclusion"

    Anyone with common sense, and that excludes economists, can see that if Ireland left the Euro now its currency would be "speculated" to death and Dublin would be the new Reykjavik. At present it's just the new Riga.

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  • 209. At 5:03pm on 06 Feb 2009, virtuousNettys wrote:

    Dear Mark Mardell!


    I am from Germany. Many Germans complain about the Euro - but prices would have gone up anyway. I like the currency - and I say if Britain is left behind it is their problem because the majority is against everything from Europe, including the Euro. I do not want to intervene in the British democracy. Now I am happy. The pound is low. Tourism is a little attractive - going to Britain, mainly to London, Cardiff - but not to rural Wales, for example where standards are low.

    I agree with menckenite: Anyone with common sense, and that excludes economists, can see that if Ireland left the Euro now its currency would be "speculated" to death and Dublin would be the new Reykjavik. At present it's just the new Riga.

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