Two Views of Europe

Gerhard Schr?der said yesterday that Europe had to choose between two versions of its future: one as a politically united continent able to hold its own in a globalized economy and the other as an enfeebled trading block.

The core question is: which Europe do we want? Do we want a united Europe capable of acting, a real political union … or do we want to limit ourselves to being a large free-trade zone?

Meantime Wolfgang Gerhardt, opposition Free Democratic party’s parliamentary leader and the man widely billed as Germany’s next foreign minister, said:

he was ?not entirely unhappy about the outcome of this summit?. Had a budget been agreed, ?we could have ended with a money-sharing compromise that would have left 40 per cent of EU expenditures going to agriculture,? he said of last week’s acrimonious, and ultimately fruitless, talks“.

Gerhardt suggested this in an interview with the FT where he indicated that Germany should press France to accept cuts in European Union farm aid to ease a deal on the EU’s “controversial long-term budget”.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

6 thoughts on “Two Views of Europe

  1. Also an interesting article by philippe douste-blazy , the french foreign minister, in yesterdays’s Le Monde. Pushes a very similar line.,1-0@2-3232,36-664443,0.html

    Personally I think this analysis is wholly misconceived. You won’t solve Germany or Italy’s (or the UK’s) economic problems through political action at EU level.

    Not that the EU is unimportant. Just that it is only a part of the story – and not necessarily the biggest part. Another case here of building up expectations of the EU that cannot realistically be met.

  2. “as a politically united continent able to hold its own in a globalized economy…”

    Gerhard Schroeder is King Canute come back to life (I’m referring to the myth rather than the historical king, who was apparently smarter).

    Schroeder seems to think that some political ju-ju from the EU’s politicians and bureaucrats can substitute for the effort and regulatory cost-reduction required to make Europe competitive. He and the rest of them are just dreaming the alluring dream that they are still relevant.

    He’s setting Europeans up for a massive disappointment and humiliation, and will be remembered as are Jim Callaghan, Michael Foot, Arthur Scargill and that crew in the UK.

  3. ZF: “Schroeder seems to think that some political ju-ju from the EU’s politicians and bureaucrats can substitute for the effort and regulatory cost-reduction required to make Europe competitive.”

    I entirely agree. It happens that the EU is an immensely useful supranational force to blame for all sorts of policy failings in domestic politics in EU countries when government have problems with flagging popularity. Occasionally the EU is to blame but many times it isn’t.

    The present crisis over the EU budget for 2007-13 and Britain’s EU rebate was manufactured to deflect attention from other current issues – like the problems with the major Eurozone economies or the rejection of the EU Constitution treaty in the referendums in France and the Netherlands. The EU budget doesn’t really need to resolve the budget issue until spring next year but it was brought up now to embarrass Blair ahead of the UK taking up the rotating EU presidency for July through December.

  4. I can see another possible scenario:

    – a politically united continent UNABLE to hold its own in a globalized economy

  5. AS an American, I would be cautious about writing the Europeans off as an economic force. The world is unpredictable.

  6. There are clear signs that the Christian Democrats in Germany could be positioning themselves close to Tony Blair (Lib?ration). Following the failure of the EU summit, Angela Merkel was careful not to place any blame on Mr Blair. In the pro-CDU popular daily Bild, the British leader wrote about the cows that cost ‘2 euros per day’.

    depuis l’?chec du r?f?rendum fran?ais sur la Constitution europ?enne le couple Chirac-Schr?der est moribond. Et m?me les plus francophiles des chr?tiens-d?mocrates n’ont pas de mots assez durs envers Chirac, le repr?sentant d’?un mod?le totalement d?pass??.

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