Thursday, 23 February 2017

Will the EU soon fall apart?


A very interesting article by Allister Heath in today's Daily Telegraph, headlined "We must leave the EU quickly – it is falling apart faster than I thought".

He thinks that how Brexit will affect Britain is less important than how it will effect Europe. He says:

"One of the reasons why I backed Brexit was because the UK is the only major European country able and willing to extricate itself from the doomed project in a rational, pro-trade, pro-market way. Brexit allows us to show the world that there is a better, more sustainable way to embrace real globalisation without having to hand over power to corrupt, unelected technocrats, and that wanting self-government doesn’t necessitate voting for extreme, destructive National Front-style parties. So far, it looks even better than I hoped, thanks to Theresa May’s enthusiasm for free trade and her commitment to keep the country open to capital and talent.

But where I may have been over-optimistic was that I was hoping that the EU would survive for at least another five years to 2022, giving Britain more time to build new institutions, diversify our trade and show the rest of Europe how it could be done. I was counting on the cyclical economic upturn, which will give all European economies a boost, as well as on an assumption that someone other than Le Pen would win in May, before going on to fail to reform France and thus delivering the country into her hands the next time around. Jacques Chirac failed to reform France, as did Nicolas Sarkozy; one must hope that Francois Fillon would pull it off, but that’s unlikely. Emmanuel Macron, a fashionable neo-Blairite with no party backing, would fail disastrously. 

I’m no longer so sure that we have so much time. It still seems likely that the EU will stagger on for a few more years, just as it survived earlier crises, but the day of reckoning is getting ever closer. We need to leave, urgently, to insulate ourselves as best we can from the fallout."

Am I wicked to find this amusing?

Allister Heath does not and says a disorderly departure of France from the euro would trigger a financial crisis as bad as the one that started in 2008 and as far as the Eurozone is concerned has not really ended.

I struggle to imagine France leaving the euro even were Mlle. Le Pen to become president. I wonder if Marine Le Pen was right to broaden her party's programme from immigration, protectionism and corporatism to include leaving the EU.

The EU is the substitute for the Napoleonic empire and, in a world with only one superpower, France's great power status. (Meanwhile, the EU is the means by which Germany evades and forgets her former great power status and seeks, vainly, to avoid dominating Europe.) 

I don't believe Mlle. Le Pen will win, by the way. But I was wrong about Brexit. 

That is to say, I don't believe she will win this year, but I expect her or someone like her to do so at the election in five years' time.

I don't particularly want the EU to collapse, though it may happen. I'd like it instead to be completely rethought, as a sort of EFTA plus (if Europeans want) free movement of people and to have as few laws and as much freedom as possible. But I know this won't happen. I see now, as I didn't before the British referendum result, that they just can't change, until the deluge forces change on them.


  1. Even if Le Pen and the other nationalists lose their elections the EU is doomed for one very simple reason: the example of Brexit will make it clear to other discontented member states that you can leave and you will survive.

    Also, an EU insider recently told me that the Commission has been making a serial hash of it over a whole series of problems: the migration crisis, Middle East relations, Ukraine, Turkey.

    They have lost the plot and are going down. End of story.

    1. It certainly has a number of huge crises at the same time: the euro; the vast influx of migrants; Islamist terrorists and extremism; Putin and now Trump. I am surpised to hear you say you think the EU is doomed as I know you beleive in the EU.

      I never wanted the EU to break up, thinking it was what continentals wanted. I came to think that we should leave but since the referendum I begin to see how undemocratic authoritarian and corrupt it is.

  2. Good for you for re-posting Allister Heath's quietly electrifying piece.

  3. A lot of all this sounds like more Brexiter fantasy. We English just don´t seem to understand that the eurozone and EU will not fall a part simply because the continental Europeans care more about cohesion (due to history) than they do about economic success

  4. I do not understand why you have not mentioned Holland, particularly after the Govt's refusal to acknowledge the referendum, ignore the people and pass the EU Bill. This will be the peoples rallying cry, driving hordes into the arms of Gert Wilders. Whilst not so damaging as France leaving, the Dutch are viewed as the most reasonable, amenable and open country in Europe. For them to leave ( highly likely now) would embolden all others...