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With hindsight, everything since the Single European Act was a bridge too far, politically. The Common Foreign and Security Policy and Cooperation in Criminal Justice never quite took off, the Euro is imploding under the weight of unrestrained internal trade imbalances, and Schengen is in the process of being rolled back.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 05:46:18 AM EST
Were these bridges "too far" because:

  • they went beyond an absolute limit that Europe is culturally incapable of crossing?

  • they were, as such, ill-conceived?

  • they were accompanied by (and were too weak to check) a neolib wave that made for a Union that was essentially as large a free-trade zone as possible?

  • the disappearance of the Communist bloc has had, as one consequence, a decrease in the willingness of previous member states of the EEC to forgo national interests?

  • that disappearance, twenty years ago, marks a line that further European integration will not be able to go beyond in the foreseeable future? (not quite the same as the first question)

I know, there isn't one single response. And there may be others.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 06:05:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They crossed over a wave of xenophobia that accompanies the neo-liberal wave?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 06:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea why it happened but it did. And if there were any hope of a different kind of outcome going forward with in current political environment, the crisis wouldn't have run the course it has over the past 2 years.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 06:26:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They were "too far" because the EU has demonstrated over 20 years a political inability and unwillingness to make them work. This is not a theoretical argument.

Regarding Schengen, for instance, I have been taking night trains between Spain and Frence for nearly 7 years now and I have always had my passport checked at the French border by French customs officials. As far as I'm concerned, France has always been in violation of the spirit of it.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 06:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
were fully aware that close economic integration and a common currency would only be viable if continual progress were made in integrating government and sovereignty. See Delors and Prodi in this respect. They made the dubious judgement that everyone would see the need for this, and that the political will to do so would gradually emerge.

Two problems then arose :

  • first, a generation of political midgets, with no willingness to sacrifice anything whatever for "Europe", and apparently no understanding that the benefits of the Euro etc. were not free.
  • second : a reaction from the European left which perceived further European integration as a free-marketer plot designed to strip away their hard-won rights and liberties.

The result was the crappy constitutional treaty, and the disaster of its rejection in 2005.

I have no idea whether the approval of the European constitution  would have, in itself, equipped us to better deal with the current crisis. But we would surely have been in another dynamic in these intervening years, and at least psychologically less resistant to doing what needs to be done to save the house from burning down.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:01:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
second : a reaction from the European left which perceived further European integration as a free-marketer plot designed to strip away their hard-won rights and liberties.
It doesn't look like they were wrong. The Brussels Consensus has replaced the Washington Consensus and is meting out neoliberal shock-doctrine to EU member states to the point that we have coined the term being ECB'd where in the latter part of the 20th century developing countries were being IMF'd.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:05:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU is doomed because 'by the people, for the people' has been replaced by 'by the banks, for the bankers.'

If media coverage wasn't quite so dedicated to tugging an economic forelock at our new lords and masters, more people might be angrier about this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:12:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yanis Varoufakis: The Road to Bankruptocracy: How events since 2009 have led to a new mode of reproduction
If anything, the Darwinian process has been turned on its head: The more unsuccessful a private organisation is, and the more catastrophic its losses, the greater its ensuing power courtesy of taxpayer financing. In short, socialism died during the Global Minotaur`s golden age and capitalism was quietly bumped off the moment the beast ceased to rule over the world economy. In its place, we have a new social system: Bankruptocracy - rule by bankrupted banks (if I were allowed to practise my Greek, I would call it ptocho-trapezocracy)

...

Ptochos is Greek for pauper but also for bankrupt. Trapeza is Greek for bank (originally it means table and is associated with banking because in ancient Greek city states borrowing and lending transactions were carried out in the Agora, with the parties to the transaction being seated around long tables).



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:18:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as for responses, i await eagerly, but these are the right questions anyways.

very good discussion, birth pangs of a Neuropa?

going on the timetested principle that we learn to do things well by first doing them badly, what do we save to bring forward, and what do we leave behind?

perhaps it would be worth losing a common currency in order to save the cultural melting pot europe has grown towards since 30-40 years ago?

maybe the common currency can only work after other solidarity issues have been troubleshot?

is a common currency a cherry more than a cake? a cart, rather than the horse? a metaphor, not a successful one?

trying to undo all the institutional bonding that forms the warp of europe to the woof of its currencerial convenience will be a lot harder than people think, in other words many, many europeans feel equally european as they do feel nationalistic (except for during the world cup!).

it would make so much more sense to keep all the good agencies created for the whole continent and sacrifice what we know now for sure doesn't work, eg letting a few suits have too much power behind the curtain.

letting the european dream shatter into shards again won't be attractive to many voters, notwithstanding the idiot wind that is blowing now and has raptured our present leadership of neolib/con midgets.

the truth has been beyond the ken of the common man for two centuries, since the middle class outnumbered the wealthy, and the veil of discretion hid the machinery that banks and governments collude with to subjugate people.

looks like events will keep renting that veil.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 04:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do I hear echoes of the umma in all the talk about bringing a new euroconsciousness to the table?

Is 1984 going to be the Islamic Caliphate vs Secular West vs Asian Tigers?

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 09:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i expect a new descriptor: 'eurotic'. what it will mean i have no idea.

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 02:52:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Euro was, in particular, ill-conceived, which ties in with the neolib wave since it was built broken in a way which would not have been broken if we lived in a universe where neolib fantasies regarding the economy applied.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 12:47:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you happen to know a good, reliable, political-economic history of the US under the Articles of Confederation - our first constitution?

From the scraps of knowledge I carry around in my head, the current EU and euro mess going on now strongly reminds me of what went on then.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 01:14:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not off the top of my head ~ I'll ask at the AFEE discusion email list.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 03:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be cool.  Thanks man.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Sep 22nd, 2011 at 10:51:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anne Mayhew, an American Institutionalist and Economic Historian:
As I remember Curtis Nettels' book, THE EMERGENCE OF A NATIONAL ECONOMY was quite good on the era of the Articles and the difficulties involved.

In some ways the story of the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, is similar to the current EU and euro mess in that the "central government" could request payments but could not levy taxes on its own and was otherwise without significant powers. States became competitive in tariff policies and the central government was without power to honor its debts after the Revolution, much less to pursue any national policies.  In other ways the story was very different because the economies of the various states and regions were so much less integrated due to slow transportation and lack of communication.  A strong government of the sort that we are familiar with today was simply not possible.  Also, banking was in its infancy so that banking control was not a major issue.  (Of course, banking did become a big issue with the First and Second Banks of the U.S. but in the absence of peripheral American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars, the 2nd Bank probably would not have been created and after it ceased to exist in the 1830s, the U.S. did without a central bank, for better and for worse, for several decades.)

The bigger story to me is that railroads, steamships, the telegraph and telephone brought about practical integration throughout the 19th century that made greater legal and administrative integration imperative.  So long as the notes of the many state chartered banks that developed in the early 19th century circulated within limited geographic areas, the effects of the failure of one bank was of limited national importance.  By mid-19th century geographic
isolation was becoming sufficiently eroded so that when finance for the Civil War became important, the National Banking Act also tackled (though not very well) the need for more national control.  And so on through the creation of the FED, the reforms of the 1930s and on.

A similar story can be told for the commerce clause of the Constitution.  It may have created a national economy in a legal sense when the Constitution was
adopted but it took the railroad and steamship to make it a reality and to produce the conflicts that led to the interpretations that gave it meaning.  And that story continues today as well.

I would say, however, that the technological realities of today make the kind of loose confederation that the EU has attempted unworkable. [I might even make the same argument about the IMF but that is another story.]  But, I would be careful in saying that the abortive effort at loose confederation under the Articles of Confederation in the American past showed a similar unworkability.



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Sep 24th, 2011 at 02:18:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't forget the social protocol in the Treaty of Maastricht

SOCIAL PROTOCOL

Thanks to the social protocol annexed to the Treaty, Community powers are broadened in the social domain. The United Kingdom is not a signatory of this protocol. Its objectives are:

  • promotion of employment;
  • improvement of living and working conditions;
  • adequate social protection;
  • social dialogue;
  • the development of human resources to ensure a high and sustainable level of employment;
  • the integration of persons excluded from the labour market.

Though everyone else appears to have forgotten, not least the troika wreaking havoc in periphery.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 06:48:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Meanwhile, the German Constitutional Court lays down the law.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:05:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again from Buiter's 3 scenarios:
2.3.3.5. The Role of the German Constitutional Court

The German Constitutional Court ruled on September 7, 2011 on whether the German participation in the first Greek bail-out and the EFSF is consistent with the German Basic Law (or German Constitution). We always thought it unlikely that, whatever the technical legal merits of the case, the German Constitutional Court would want to go down in history as the entity that destroyed the European Union. And the Court duly complied. It ruled that the German participation in the first Greek bailout and the EFSF do not have to be rolled back.

(My emphasis)

The Bundesbank doesn't seem to have the same qualms as the Court.

The case before the German Constitutional Court concerned the interpretation of the various `no bailout' Articles in the Treaty. The Court ruled that Germany's participation in the rescue measures had not violated parliament's right to control spending of taxpayer money, and that it did not give a rubber-stamp to the chancellor's office.

The court also noted, however, that its rulings "should not be misinterpreted as a constitutional blank cheque for further rescue packages." It said that "the government is obligated in the cases of large expenditures to obtain the approval of the parliamentary budgetary committee" - a rather manageable nuisance and certainly much less burdensome than having to obtain the approval of the Bundestag.

Even in the case that the German Constitutional Court had mandated a roll-back of German participation, this would hardly have been the end of the matter, on procedural grounds. It is clear that the fate of the EA will not be decided in the courtrooms.



Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Sep 21st, 2011 at 07:11:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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