Free and open debate on the future of the euro and EU must be supported and not suppressed by EU leaders – Statement by EUDemocrats 28 September 2012

The EUDemocrats support a democratic, open and tolerant Europe. We consider a climate of free and open debate a pre-requisite for any well-functioning political system. Recent statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn and President of the Eurogroup Jean-Claude Juncker, which urged suppression of comments on the euro crisis, are contrary to the European tradition of open, free and fact based political debate.

In her most high-profile interview this summer, Chancellor Angela Merkel told German state broadcaster ARD that everyone should “choose their words carefully” when discussing the situation in Greece. Meanwhile her colleague, Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the Eurogroup and Prime Minister of Luxembourg, told those who ceaselessly call for Greece to exit the euro, to “shut up” so the “progress” of the Greek reform programme is not threatened. Previously he labelled debate over Greek Eurozone membership “unhelpful.” Rounding up the concerted action of debate suppression, Commissioner Olli Rehn, speaking at a gathering of ambassadors in Helsinki complained that Finland has succeeded in creating an image of a country that doubts its role in European integration and is considering an exit from the euro.

European leaders should not support this type of concerted suppression of critics of the EU’s policy-response to the economic crisis. Eventually it will lead to less objective debate and inevitably worse decision making, as citizens and representatives of alternative points of view are excluded from the debate on the future of the euro and the EU.

Alternative approaches must be explored and allowed to exist, even in public, otherwise Europe risks more Brussels-based group-think and prolonged economic hardship. If an open and serious debate had been allowed to take place across Europe prior to the launch of the euro currency, many questions raised by critics at the time could have led to a less economically and democratically harmful currency policy. Once again attempting to suppress open debate is not the answer. The EUDemocrats wholeheartedly support free speech and constructive debate, and exceptions cannot be made for euro-related issues or EU policy.

This time the Greeks must beware of Paris bearing gifts by Tim Gordon

EU summits to save the Euro seem to happen on a more or less monthly basis. Summits happen come along so often they must be called a ridge.

The June 2012 summit was a little different: it has been reported as a rebellion led by Hollande and Monti against Angela Merkel. Some have seen it as a rebellion against Germany to relieve the misery of those countries suffering from a so-called bailout.

Moreover, it has been reported as a victory for the rebellious colonies and a defeat for the Empress. Those lands ravaged by Teutonic austerity may have a hero, a Nevsky, in the new French president. His gifts for PIIGS but cultured not real.

French European policy since the last war, the whole French purpose of the EU, can be summed up as the denial of Europe as a German empire. France and Germany are equal partners, they say, and besides, it is not an empire: all those other members of the EU are sort of equal too.

But it is not really possible to describe the Euro in any other way than a system with Germany at the centre that exists for the benefit of German exports. Germany really is the only country to benefit, economically, from the Euro. The Euro does seem to give some kind of psychological and emotional benefit to peoples without much self-confidence, but this is illusory. The Euro gives Germany power over the Eurozone – and Germany should accept the responsibilities like a good, beneficient imperial should.

French and Italian and other governments have more reasonable complaint about the conditions of empire. But that is how it is. So, Greeks should beware of Paris when he says he is bearing gifts, because the gifts are not his to give. Hollande can rebel but can never call the shots. That is the first lesson.

I am very fond nowadays of going around quoting Karl Marx: the people who pay for an empire are the working classes of the imperial power. Therefore an empire collapses when the benefits that derive to the elites and the working classes of the imperial are no longer sufficient to warrant the price paid by those working classes. And just because I think it was Marx who said it does not mean it is not how it is. You pay for your empire as long as is profitable. When it is no longer profitable, you dump it.

As long as Germay profits from the Euro, Germany will do what it takes to keep the Euro alive.

So far what has Germany paid? That word “bailout” is a lie in itself. The bailout is not a gift, support, it is an enforced loan for a purpose not supported by the victim country. Germany benefits from the Euro because it locks a continent into a favourable trade relationship: it keeps German factories busy. What Paris thinks is neither here nor there. What is said in Finland can be fun but when it comes to it, the Finnish contribution to Germany’s Euro is comparable to Britain’s contribution to USA’s invasion of Iraq. All Paris has is a complaint and a series of petulant demands and peurile fantasies that are all that passes for socialism nowadays.

Alright, there is the conventional view. What a disappointment that HM Government still sees it as being in Britain’s interest that the Euro and with its German hegemony (if I can be forgiven for using such a 1980s word) is maintained and flourishes. It is not that it is German but that it is a single continental order essentially hostile to Britain and her friends that is the problem.

The Eurosceptic must put forward a series of policies that really can offer a way forward to the people of Greece, Ireland, etc, etc. Never mind the Euro, it is the people we need to save.

What policies should be the focus now of eurosceptic thought. Imagine Greece was a struggling business you had just bought. It is desperate because it has been mismanaged but is basically good. Would you run it as Germany is running Greece? Of course not. But Greece is not some struggling business but a decent nation of people who command respect.

It is a source of shame to Britain that our Government does not have an alternative policy but advances the silliness that while membership of the Euro would be bad, the existence of the Euro is critically important. It is the essential purpose of the eurosceptic movement to provide a superior policy to that of the Euro. Although we offered a warning against what has happened, we must now offer a way ahead.

An Irish challenge to the European Stability Mechanism

Legal proceedings have been initiated by Thomas Pringle T.D., Independent Irish Member of Parliament for Donegal South-West, challenging the Irish Government on fundamental aspects of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)
Treaty and the Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (Fiscal Compact) Treaty

Pringle stated that he is “of the opinion that both treaties raise serious legal difficulties both at the level of EU treaty law and Irish Constitutional law.”

Stating “my primary democratic concern as both a citizen and as an elected public representative is the integrity of the Irish Constitution and the EU treaties which now form such an important part of our constitutional framework. I believe that the matters that I seek the clarification and assistance of the Court on are of crucial importance not only for the citizens of this country but for the future of the EU.”

Of special concern to him are the implications under the terms of the ESM Treaty of a new permanent €700 billion bailout fund called the European Stability Mechanism to be set up with power to call on Ireland (at a time of that institution’s choosing) to make capital contributions of up to €11,145,400,00 in various forms of capital.

“In this country’s case, this is the equivalent to approximately one-third of Government Tax Revenue for 2011. This figure can be increased at the sole behest of the ESM at any time in the future and with no limit set in the treaty as to what may be sought from Member States in the future.

“In effect this Stability Mechanism can direct the State to raise sovereign debt, give the money so raised to it and can then decide, where, when, whether and how it is to be spent. Therefore Ireland will not have power to control decisions regarding the use of funds raised by it.”

Implications – What if a majority of voters in the May referendum on the Fiscal Compact Treaty vote in favour of imposing permanent austerity rules on the country in order to get access to a proposed permanent Eurozone loan fund only to discover that the treaty to establish that fund is illegal under EU law and unconstitutional in Ireland and may never in fact come into force?

Pringle said “On the 9th March last I wrote to Irish Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Foreign Affairs detailing some of these very serious concerns. To date I have received no reply to this correspondence beyond the usual standard acknowledgement of receipt of the communication. I have now been left with no other option but to take this course of action.”

Summary of the Case

“I am asking the Court to examine the legality of the amendment of Article 136 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) before any further action is taken by Government to approve that amendment. That amendment is being adopted under a so-called ‘simplified revision procedure’ of the EU treaties which I believe is legally wrong. The changes being proposed are so fundamental that they should go through the ‘ordinary treaty revision procedure’ to ensure proper democratic scrutiny. They also require the approval of the Irish people.

“I am also asking the Court to consider whether the ESM Treaty is in breach of existing EU treaty principles which have been approved by the Irish people in previous referendums and which are now therefore part of our law.

“In addition I am asking the Court to decide whether the State can ratify the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism without first having the approval of the people in a referendum.

“The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and
Monetary Union signed on 2nd March 2012 is intertwined with the ESM Treaty. They each depend on the other.

“If I am right in my belief that the ESM Treaty is unlawful, then there is in my opinion a question over the validity of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union.”

Timing & Positioning Q & A

Pringle states that he “appreciates and welcomes the Irish Government’s
decision to submit the issue of the Fiscal Treaty to the people by way of
referendum”, but he “has concerns that due to the intense pressures on
Government at this time, the need to put the amendment to the EU treaties and the ESM Treaty to a referendum may not yet have been fully scrutinised. In order to assist in that scrutiny, he is seeking particular judicial review in these proceedings.”