Thursday, March 03, 2005

Time for the sham to end

After the debacle of the Italians and Greeks misreporting their budget deficits in order to qualify for joining the euro, you can see the EU commission’s reasoning for wanting extra powers to check the accounts of member state governments.

These powers they have now formally requested, which would enable the commission to set up a squad of accountants and statisticians who could fly into any member state capital for an in-depth look at the government books.

The visits from the experts would come on top of regular checks that the Eurostat statistical office already carries out and the member states in question would have to provide all the necessary assistance to let the Union's accountants do their work.

Logical or not – and indeed they are – the assumption of these powers will make it more and more difficult for the likes of Denis MacShane and his boss, Jack Straw, to deny that member state governments, in increasingly important respects, are subordinate to the commission, the effective government of the European Union.

No country which is required to open its books to a higher authority, and which stands to be penalised if it does not meet economic criteria set by a group of which it was only a minority member, can be considered sovereign or independent.

And since in those important respects, member states are effectively second-tier governments, and more powers are handed to the central government via the EU constitution, it would do well for the MacShanes of this world also to admit that the EU is no longer (and never has been) an association of sovereign nation states, freely co-operating with each other.

It is time for the sham to end.

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