Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Brexit or the UK version of a 2-speed Europe

7 November 2015

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The refugee crisis in Europe even managed what the near Greek bankruptcy could not: the end of the megalomaniac European project by Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand. Clearly, there is not such a thing as “too big too fail”. Today we hear about a 2-speed Europe, a solution to save the EU project.

However, a 2-speed Europe is not an unambiguous concept. The UK version of this concept is quite different from others like the former Belgian PM (see my 19 October blog). In essence, the Britons misuse this concept to “butter one’s bread on both sides” or in Dutch: “Van twee walletjes eten”.

On November 3, the UK Finance Minister “set out for the first time the UK’s demands for EU treaty changeto protect its economy, taxpayers and the City of London in a two-speed Europe. In exchange for these protections, Mr Osborne will signal that Britain will not stand in the way if the 19-member eurozone decides to press ahead with closer integration.” (FT) Or in other words, the UK is acting like a spoiled child: “If I don’t get it my way then I will spoil your game”.

And to be even more clear: “Quite frankly, the British people do not want to be part of an ever closer union,” the chancellor will tell a business audience. “I believe it is this that is the cause of some of the strains between Britain and our European partners.” Mr Osborne will call for “principles embedded in EU law and binding on EU institutions” to govern a two-tier Europe, with an integrated eurozone surrounded by a looser group of countries using their own currencies. (FT)

To me, the most appalling comment of the UK Finance Minister was this one: “We get a guarantee that the eurozone’s decisions and costs are not imposed on us. You get a stronger euro. We make sure the voice of the pound is heard when it should be.” (Guardian) Another Dutch term came to mind: “Alleen de lusten, niet de lasten” which translates like: all gain, no pain. The only realistic approach to that can be: either you’re IN or you’re OUT of the game. It is as simple as that.

The Guardian added: “His remarks, designed to protect London’s financial interests, leave unresolved the issue of how to determine if a decision by the eurozone affected those outside it and, if it was agreed it had that broad an impact, how the issue would then be resolved at EU level”. Yet, the example given in the UK Finance Minister’s speech already brings bad news: the UK is unwilling to shoulder some of the cost of the Greek bailout. Apparently, British banks have no European ties.

The same-day speech of the German PM did not reveal too much: “Where there are justified concerns – whether competitiveness or a better functioning of the EU – British concerns are our concerns,” Mrs Merkel said. “The Europe of today is no longer a one-speed Europe,” she added. (Guardian)

Latter remark of the German PM is the most interesting one as it underlines that the EU is not too big too fail. It only took several million economic and genuine refugees to prove that. Hence, a Brexit may be closer than ever before. If the Britons don’t leave themselves, there may be no future for them. It’s also the result of their centuries’ long island mentality. Also see my 12 May 2015 blog.

Mainland Europe has been taken hostage by the UK for too long. Either they can join a new core Europe and embrace its mutual fundamentals, or they can continue booing and sulking at the sidelines. The British Empire no longer rules the waves. Even the Dutch made that clear. Just face it.

“Mr. Chairman, you have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your courage. If you believe some of the things said and written about my views on Europe, it must seem rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the virtues of peaceful coexistence!” Margaret Thatcher (wikiquote)

“During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it.” Margaret Thatcher (source)

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