Birth of a Nation

Bye Bye Britain: The European Union’s New Face – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Great Britain, the birthplace of realpolitik, a country which has always scorned the EU idealism found on the Continent, has now been backed into a corner — and it has been pushed there by exactly those idealists it has long disdained. The question is a simple one: Do you want to remain part of a united Europe or do you not?

The euro crisis has exposed a kind of creative momentum that is in the process of creating something new. A new Europe. It is an entity which Chancellor Angela Merkel calls a “fiscal union.” But in reality, Europe is on the path toward becoming a federal country. Germany and France would lead, as became clear on Thursday night in Brussels. But leaders must also ensure that all are included. Arrogant posturing aimed at appeasing the electorate back home is damaging.

That is true of relations between large and small EU member states. But it is also true of relations with Great Britain. The preferred outcome is clear — of course Great Britain should become part of an integrated euro-Europe. Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy should clearly say so.Europe, though, can work fine without the British. But what kind of future does Great Britain have without the Continent and without the euro? Will it, in the future, focus exclusively on its alliance with the United States? Will the Commonwealth become a greater priority? What is this small country’s role in a world made up great powers such as China, Russia, Europe and the US?

These are the questions that Britain must now answer. And it doesn’t have much time. If the Brits wait too long, history will simply move on.

11 comments on “Birth of a Nation

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  1. A different perspective on all this is at Foreign Policy

    Merkel’s short-sighted, audaciously Germany-first reaction to staunch the eurocrisis is the Germanization of European monetary and fiscal policy, foremost the codification of its obsession with tight money, fiscal purity, and budgetary orthodoxy. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, she insists that what’s good for Germany is good for everybody else, too. It’s clearly not. And with the world’s leaders begging her to do “whatever it takes” to stave off global calamity, she’s doing it with Sarkozy at her side and over the heads of the now completely irrelevant European “voters” (“subjects” is the more fitting word). This is a catastrophic mistake, which, politically, vastly expands the EU’s centralized authority while robbing it of even the fig leaf of democratic legitimacy it had sported. Moreover, the economics of Berlin’s Germanocentric prescriptions for the eurozone compound the very problems that landed Europe’s weaker economies in the mess they’re in right now.

  2. The rates are right, the culture of tax avoidance is what’s left out of the picture, add to that that many of these austerity measures, like those were passed in Great Britain, were much more fiscally based in revenue terms,

    • OK in the spirit of self education I found this. Relevant to Greece, but that’s a pretty limited response to the excerpt I copied. What about the rest of Europe? And my initial point modified by this exchange is, as a conservative, shouldn’t you be celebrating low effective tax rates whatever the mechanism? I mean you seem to be advocating taxing the job creators.

      • The problem is that Greece lacks the ready money to redeem its debts and pay the interest charges. The ECB is demanding that it sell off public assets – land, water and sewer systems, ports and other assets in the public domain, and also cut back pensions and other payments to its population. The “bottom 99%” understandably are angry to be informed that the wealthiest layer of the population is largely responsible for the budget shortfall by stashing away a reported €45 billion of funds stashed away in Swiss banks alone. The idea of normal wage-earners being obliged to forfeit their pensions to pay for tax evaders – and for the general un-taxing of wealth since the regime of the colonels – makes most people understandably angry. For the ECB, EU and IMF “troika” to say that whatever the wealthy take, steal or evade paying must be made up by the population at large is not a politically neutral position. It comes down hard on the side of wealth that has been unfairly taken.

        A democratic tax policy would reinstate progressive taxation on income and property, and would enforce its collection – with penalties for evasion. Ever since the 19th century, democratic reformers have sought to free economies from waste, corruption and “unearned income.” But the ECB “troika” is imposing a regressive tax – one that can be imposed only by turning government policy-making over to a set of unelected “technocrats.”

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