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“More Europe” and Meanwhile
read in Macedonian


So this makes three articles in a row focusing on Europe and its sovereign debt crisis and what that means for Macedonia and the rest of us.  I’m latching on to that phrase – “more Europe” – as it really sums up what the great white fathers in Brussels want.  A headline in the Financial Times on October 16 summed it up – Pressure grows for ‘more Europe’

The phrase was uttered by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in the New York Times in early October when he stated “In recent months it has become clear: the answer to the crisis can only mean more Europe.”  And that October 16 Financial Times article began with a call: “Across the German political spectrum, and among the nation’s business and banking community, pressure is growing for “more Europe” as the answer to the plight of the eurozone.”

No matter how you read it, the EU members are moving toward economic governance, fiscal union, more Europe.  But this will call for a new treaty and according to that Financial Times article “Policymakers are well-versed in the logic of the debate: the eurozone crisis exposed the lack of economic integration needed to complement the European monetary union. But if the 17 partners in the common currency are going to interfere in each others’ national fiscal strategies – hitherto regarded as the cornerstone of national sovereignty – then closer political integration is essential, say proponents.”  ‘Closer political integration’ means more Europe and a surrendering of more national sovereignty.     

Because of this, and as I wrote last week, the UK is increasingly looking to leave the EU.  They are not – and really never wanted to be – members of the Euro currency (the British pound is sacrosanct), but now they are strongly considering leaving the EU altogether.  According to an October 19 article in the UK’s Telegraph, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has triggered debate about a national referendum on EU membership, perhaps as soon as 2013. The paper notes that “Under a new mechanism he introduced, an online petition calling for a national referendum on EU membership has attracted enough signatures to trigger a House of Commons debate.”  

The article continues with one of the more scathing indictments of Brussels and the way it operates I have seen in a long time:  “One of the reasons the EU is in such a critical state is the democratic deficit that has allowed the Brussels elite to ram through its federalist agenda, while the voters of Europe have been little more than onlookers. On the rare occasions when they have been consulted, their views have been treated with contempt. Five of the last eight referendums held in member states went against the EU, whose response was either to insist on another vote (as with Ireland over the Lisbon Treaty) or simply to resubmit the proposals in a slightly amended form and steamroller them through. The Greek sovereign debt crisis, which threatens both the existence of the eurozone and the stability of the global economy, is the price being paid for this bullying approach.” 

Another Telegraph article from October 22 headlines “European Union chiefs are drawing up plans for a single ‘Treasury’ to oversee tax and spending across the 17 eurozone nations,” and then immediately, in the opening paragraph, notes “The proposal, put forward by Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, would be the clearest sign yet of a new ‘United States of Europe’ — with Britain left on the sidelines.” 

On the flip side, a new treaty might mean the end of veto power by individual states within the EU, something which has kept Macedonia out.  Again, the Financial Times article notes that Jean-Claude Trichet, the outgoing president of the European Central Bank “said it was necessary to change the treaty ‘to prevent one member state from straying and creating problems for all the others.’ Asked if that meant getting rid of national vetoes, he added: ‘To do this, one even needs to be able to impose decisions.’ Some of the ideas being discussed in Germany include the establishment of a European monetary fund, budget rules that are enforceable in the European court of justice and a transfer of elements of budget sovereignty from national capitals to Brussels.”  But even if the EU had a new treaty banning state vetoes, I would still say there is no reason for Macedonia to join the EU. 

Meanwhile, back in the real world, in Macedonia, we find that Macedonia is doing quite well, thank you very much.  The latest “Doing Business” report from the International Finance Corporation and World Bank ranked Macedonia 22 in the world in ease of doing business.  Macedonia ranked higher than such countries as Estonia, Taiwan, France, Slovenia and the Netherlands just to name a few.  Macedonia was also the third most improved country in 2012 moving from 34th to 22nd.  Compare that with the 2006 report in which Macedonia was ranked 94th.  

Back in 2004 when Estonia joined the EU, an Estonian friend of mine working in their foreign affairs ministry called me to say “Well, we’ve now traded one master for another master.”

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Jason Miko
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