Sunday 4 December 2011

EU and euro crisis: Internal weaknesses and unanimity

Some countries are born weak, some achieve weakness and some have weakness thrust upon them. The United Kingdom joined the EEC (later EU) late and grudgingly, after its EFTA strategy failed. Britain has worked hard to drag the course of European integration down to its own level, reluctantly agreeing to further steps while opting out of essential policy areas and core groups. Representing a member state seen as playing as much against as for its team, prime minister David Cameron is and has thrust himself into the position of being an obstacle, a nuisance or an irrelevance.

However, weakness is not confined to Britain. The European level is a shining example. The less than robust and democratic structures of the European Union and the eurozone are root causes of the worsening euro crisis. Given the structural weaknesses, calls for more or better leadership often have a hollow ring.

Yesterday we looked at the eurozone ”institutions” with regard to economic policy; informal gatherings with the Euro Summit as the icing on a cake of impotence.

A few days ahead of the European Council, there is no public proposal from president Herman Van Rompuy (who is also the president of the Euro Summits, and has been mandated to propose solutions). An apt illustration of the state of EU and eurozone level power, governance and transparency.

Through the feebleness of the European level, common solutions become hostages of national perspectives and power struggles, since fundamental remedies need unanimity among the EU members or participating states.

Never underestimate internal weaknesses as an explaining factor in intergovernmental Europe.

However chancellor Angela Merkel and president Nicolas Sarkozy patch up their mutual differences on Monday in Paris, the next ”comprehensive solution” requiring unanimity will be met by 25 other national lists of caveats at the European Council 8 to 9 December 2011 (somewhat fewer if the serious talks are restricted to the euro area members or a core within the core).

Does this have the look of credible structures and convincing solutions to the euro crisis, based on democracy at the right level?

Ralf Grahn

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