The EU’s illusionists are running out of sleeves, hats, doves and rabbits.
Over 50% of chief executives and heads of banks questioned in an Economist Intelligence Unit survey say that a shrinking eurozone before 2013 is more likely than not. And more than a third of the 450 opinion leaders interviewed saw at least a fair chance of a complete breakup over the same period.
Further down the food chain – among the unfortunates being asked to clear up the mess – an IPSOS poll also found that over half of German voters want to return to the Deutschmark, with only 1 in 3 wanting to keep the euro.
In this context, Spain is rapidly turning into Germany’s most implacable enemy: Handelsblatt reports that Spanish Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos has warned Germany against trying to advance EU economic governance on its own. “Germany can make proposals, but it still needs the consent of 27 EU members,” he said, adding that, “the times when Berlin could decide everything on its own are over.”
I would take issue with that judgement, and offer instead the view that those times are just beginning. But none of this argey-bargey matters to those retaining a thirst for power: Het Financieele Dagblad quotes a top diplomat commenting on the struggle between Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso to represent the EU at the summit. He said there were “a lot of negotiations on how we would present the EU at the G20 in Toronto,” adding, “it was a whole lot of trouble again”.
The self-raising Rompuy continues to amass more and more influence. An AFP article suggests that the lack of a permanent Belgian government – a new cabinet is expected to enter office in October – will allow him to exert more power during the Belgian EU Presidency, which is due to commence next month.
But as always, everything not involving their continued receipt of massive subsidies is of zero interest to the French farmer. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is using ‘environmental and food safety’ as the latest excuse for continuing with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) past 2013 – if not forever. Of the expense of farming, he said that an ambitious agricultural policy resting on full health security “must all come at a cost”. Britain has been trying to abolish the CAP since 1981.
Petty arguments, national greed, graft and power struggles continue unabated, but they’re even more surreal in the light of the EU central bank’s ridiculous position. As the FT puts it this morning, the ECB has replaced the Union’s interbank lending market completely – because ordinary banks are ‘doing a 2008’ – refusing to lend to each other because of profound mutual distrust.
We all know where this is going. The tableau must play itself out in full for the thicker members in the gawping crowd, but for Dandies everywhere it is at least no longer necessary to schlep down to Bedlam in order to watch the antics of the mentally disturbed: they can watch them 24/7 at most websites and all news channels.