The human cost of the Single Currency

The chart below is  a powerful rebuttal of the so-called blessings of being part of the EU – and the single currency in particular. Germany is doing very nicely from the €uro, but the human cost of the single currency in other countries is immense. Two in five young people are still out of work in Greece. At one point, the figure was more than three in five.

Although not a “Club Med” member, Finland has youth unemployment of over 20% and non-Eurozone Denmark and Sweden have higher overall and youth unemployment levels than non-EU Norway. The USA, also included for comparison, is doing better still, although Switzerland has even lower unemployment.

The UK comes out pretty well. Keeping control of our own currency has definitely helped us weather the Great Recession better than the major €urozone economies, Germany excepted. Had we never joined the EU, who knows, we may have had a better economy than Switzerland

Photo by Sinn Féin

European Electorates reject the EU

Among the European Union’s (EU’s) ruling élite, concern is growing as their EU superstate project – to merge the nations of Europe into a federal superstate governed largely by unelected bureaucrats – continues to unravel. Across Europe, disillusioned electorates are responding against this cruel reality being imposed without their consent.

In this country, Prime Minister David Cameron has begrudgingly agreed to a referendum which gives the electorate the opportunity to leave the EU and for the UK to regain independence, sovereignty and democracy. The EU’s increasingly disastrous mistakes, however, are worrying voters in other countries too. Ironically, it is not just in the South of Europe, where a generation and more of young and old have been made unemployed and without hope by misguided EU policies, notably the straitjacket of the Euro, but in the North and the former Eastern bloc countries where enthusiasm for the EU is crumbling.

Danes retain “Opt-Outs” from EU control
In December, the Danish electorate rejected their (pro EU) government’s proposal to end the country’s opt-out from EU domestic and judicial policies. Following its rejection of the Maastricht Treaty (extending the EU’s powers) in a referendum on June 2, 1992, Denmark obtained four “opt-outs” which pertained to the single currency, the EU’s foreign, security, domestic and judicial policies, as well as naturalization laws. Consequentially, Denmark has not joined the Euro, does not participate in the EU’s military policies, and has preserved a certain margin of manoeuvre for its domestic policies beyond EU directives. However, the ECJ has overruled Denmark’s EU agreements at least 79 times despite explicit agreement to the contrary!

This referenmdum delivered the “wrong result” as far as the vast majority of Denmark’s ruling élite was concerned. They still support their country’s complete submission to EU policy. This should come as no surprise. Mr Cameron and our ruling élite take a similar line here – namely, EU rule for their own benefits, not for us, the people who voted them into office.

Euro exit by Finland?
In Finland, the EU project is also becoming increasingly unpopular, thanks largely to problems with the economy. Although the UK’s recovery from the Great Recession has been rather sluggish, at least we have been out of recession for several years now. By contrast, Finnish GDP has dropped 0.6 per cent in the last quarter of this year – more than in Greece. Finnish economists, looking to neighbouring Sweden and Denmark, point out that without the Euro, the crisis could have been prevented.

A citizen’s initiative, campaigning for a referendum on exiting the Euro, has garnered more than 50,000 signatures. Next year, the Finnish parliament must consequently debate returning to the Finnish Markka.

France – the charge of the ‘fringe’ Eurosceptics
The first round of France’s regional elections saw Marine le Pen’s Eurosceptic Front National top the polls in six of the country’s 13 regions and gain 28% of the overall vote – ahead of both the ruling Socialists and former President Sarkozy’s Les Républicains. In the Nord- Pas de Calais region, the FN polled over 40%. The two EU-fanatic establishment parties responded by creating an unholy alliance to keep the FN from power, with the socialists standing down in two regions and, encouraging their supporters to back ‘arch rival’ Sarkozy’s party. Voters may, however see there is little to choose between the two establishment parties, and many chose to vote for Mme le Pen.

France’s system of having a two-stage election prevented the FN gaining power in any region and will prove an even greater obstacle to winning the Presidency in 18 or so months’ time. However, Marine le Pen’s alleged “dédiabolisation” of the party since replacing her controversial father as leader has paid off. Her party may still be seen as a pariah by the leadership of two establishment parties, but much less so by voters. Although she failed to win a region, she gathered over 6 million votes. Whether it still is a “nasty party” is impossible to judge, especially given the enthusiasm of some sections of the media to apply the “far right” label indiscriminately to any political party with an ideology any major distance to the right of Jeremy Corbyn or Josef Stalin.

It is clear, however, that the FN’s anti-EU stance along with its calls to return to the Franc, for tighter controls on immigration and the need for a more cohesive society are clearly seen as necessary by many French voters and economists.

Eastern European and German worries
Pegida, the anti-Islamification movement in Germany, has enjoyed a renaissance since the attacks in Paris. Indeed, Pegida has spawned similar groups in other countries, including the Czech Republic where the country’s president Miloš Zeman spoke at a meeting of a political action group called ‘Bloc Against Islam’. This is part of a trend in several former Soviet bloc countries, including Hungary and Poland, where parties from outside the pro-EU “mainstream” are either in power or are gaining support, with worries about immigration and Islam being major factors.

In the Spectator, Rod Liddle wrote perceptively about Europe’s ruling élites: “It is an irony that the liberals are being vanquished as a consequence of their support for that least liberal of ideologies, Islam.” The growing anti-establishment mood across Europe engendered by fears of terrorism and Islamification will do nothing to bolster support for the European Union, which disingenuously tries to portray itself as rooted in liberal democracy. There is no democracy in the EU whatsoever, as we all know.

In summary, if the voters in an increasing number of member states are either looking at parties other than the fanatical Europhile “mainstream” or else are turning away from “more Europe” altogether, for how long will they and their worries be ignored?

For how long will repressed Western Democracy stay subjugated? When will the tax revolt commence? When will the people cease to co-operate and the member countries cease to permit themselves to be so enslaved that they become ungovernable as they reject the tyranny of Brussels?

An improvement in the Eurozone economy, but its politics remains fragile

The launch of a progamme of quantitative easing by the European Central Bank does seem to have revived business confidence across the Eurozone after a long period of stagnation which saw a sustained fall in bank lending to businesses. Consumers are also now becoming less reluctant to spend, with both retail sales and car registrations up. The weakening Euro is helping Eurozone exporters and with the overall Eurozone annual inflation rate still negative, the increase in the cost of imports (which is the other side of the coin to currency depreciation) does not seem to be causing too many problems. Of course, broad-brush macroeconomic data do not reflect conditions on the ground for some struggling individuals – or indeed, in the case of an 18-country bloc, for some struggling member states – but things are definitely looking up on the economic front after a damaging double-dip recession.

Politically, it is a different story. Greece remains a concern, with still no sign of an imminent agreement with its creditors. The country’s Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis told one national Greek daily yesterday that the option of holding a referendum or snap elections exists “in the back of our minds…in the event of an impasse” in talks with creditors. “There’s no way we would cross the red lines that we have set,” he went on to say. EU politicians want to keep Greece in the Eurozone, but not at any cost. In Germany especially, the behaviour of the new Syriza-;led government, with its talk of claims for war reparations, had not gone down well. Since 2011, when “Grexit” last appeared to be a real possibility, banking reforms have been implemented which, so many across the Eurozone believe, would prevent contagion in the event of Greece going bust and its banks collapsing. It is a small player in the Eurozone. If it were to leave or be forced out, life would go on across the rest of the single currency bloc without anyone losing much sleep.

Fair enough, but an important principle will have been violated. Eurozone membership was meant to be irreversible. Suppose it isn’t. At the moment, no one is talking about any other countries reverting to their national currencies and the remaining PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain) are not in such dire financial straits as Greece, but what if another crisis flared up? In particular, what if Greece with a new drachma, thrived economically outside the single currency bloc and the weaker countries within struggled? This would make Pexit, Spexit or whatever a more attractive possibility, thus undermining the whole project.

That may be for the future. However, in the present, a General Election was held in Finland on Sunday 19th which saw the eurosceptic Finns (formerly True Finns) become the second largest group in the country’s parliament. It is possible that they may be invited into coalition with the winners, the Centre Party. The Finns oppose any further bailouts to Greece, which could make life interesting given the deteriorating economic situation in Athens. They are also not too keen on immigration, like the Sweden Democrats and the Danish People’s Party. Quite how much influence the party’s 38MPs will be able to influence remains to be seen, but the strong showing of a eurosceptic party, even in a country with serious economic issues, is a reminder that unease at the direction of the EU isn’t going to go away any time soon – in this country or elsewhere.

Photo by Matti Mattila