In response to Italian and German murmurings about the euro and assurances from finance ministers that the euro was alive, well and immortal, Mr Juncker has come up with his own brand of reassurance:
“It is just inconceivable that a country could envisage dropping out of the euro. The euro belongs to us all.”What a curiously socialist idea. Still, other ministers have been just as troublingly reassuring. Hans Eichel, the German Finance Minister, informed the world that it was “nonsense” even to suggest that any country could withdraw from the euro.
Pedro Solbes, the Spanish Finance Minister, called the euro “irreversible”. (Reminds one of the time Mrs Thatcher told us that he Chancellor’s position was “unassailable”. We knew Lawson was for the chop.)
The new French Foreign Minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, assured all and sundry that the euro was a huge plus to the European economies, reminding the world of the problems they encountered in those far-off EMU days. (Personally, I do not think it is a wise policy to remind the Netherlands, for instance, of their pre-euro days, but then I am not the French Foreign Minister.)
“Do not call into question monetary Europe,” – he added, distinguishing it from any other kind of Europe that, presumably, can be called into question.
And, of course, we could not get by without a fatuous comment from Josep Borrell, the rather dubious President of the European Parliament.
“We must ask everyone to avoid frivolity and such brilliant ideas. Imagine the monetary turmoil that would be shaking the European Union today if it weren't for the euro.”Imagine it, indeed. Then try to imagine a Europe that is economically successful and forward looking. The mind definitely boggles.
Beware of so many politicians denying something. It will surely come to pass.
Of course, it is fair to say that monetary union is not the only thing that is causing problems in European countries, though the “one interest rate for all” policy cannot be helpful when the economies are further apart than ever.
But is that not precisely what the derided euroceptics said back in the days the euro was being discussed and promoted as the answer to all our problems? As I recall, Bill Jamieson, then Economic Editor of the Sunday Telegraph compared the suggestion of the euro solving all those problems to the idea that you can remodel a car by smashing it into the wall first.
The European economies suffer from a great many ills that need root and branch reforms. The euro is not the greatest of these but neither is it negligible. However, as the euro was promised to be the panacea, so it is now blamed for all the problems that not only have not been solved but have actually deepened.
Like the euro, they belong to us all.