Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


I welcome your comments, so do please write. Please note however that all comments are moderated prior to publication. Whilst I fully appreciate that life can be frustrating, nevertheless, abuse, SMS language and illiteracy will not be tolerated!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

European Stuff

On 9th November, European President Herman van Rompuy gave in Berlin, the annual "Europe Address."

In the opening part of his speech he said:

"What is more, today is 9 November, a day of such exceptional significance in 20th-century German history. With its times of darkness but also of course with the joy of the fall of the Berlin Wall, so close to where we stand. The "Wall of Shame", the very antithesis of the legacy of Greece: democracy. At school I learned of Pericles' famous formulation of democracy in which "the affairs of State are not the privilege of the few but the right of the many"."

This is really rather tragicomical isn't it? Or have I missed something? Of course no-one except a few eccentrics I suppose, would like to see the re-establishment of the DDR for example and its repellent leaders such as Walter Ulbricht, nevertheless it was of course (in English) The German Democratic Republic, so as with the "Democratic Republic of Congo" in the words of Private Eye: "that's alright then."

Near the end of the speech Mr van Rompuy said:

"We have together to fight the danger of a new Euro-scepticism. This is no longer the monopoly of a few countries. In every Member State, there are people who believe their country can survive alone in the globalised world. It is more than an illusion: it is a lie!"

Very good Mr President; whilst I accept that Norway is a special case, owing to its oil wealth, good management and a small population, as I write this I am looking at Lake Geneva; I see no oil rigs and the desperate state of the Swiss economy (thanks of course to the Swiss population's democratic obduracy with regard to joining the EU) would of course be immediately ameliorated were the Swiss to sign up (ho ho). In this part of France, many of the French would simply love to have a job across the border - as many do.

According to XE.com, the Euro stands at 1.34049 Swiss francs. A year ago the rate was 1.50. As Bliar once remarked it is essential to be "at the heart of Europe." I wonder did anyone ask him why?

So Mr President I don't agree: it isn't a lie - at least in many cases - excepting of course those who have crucified themselves with the Euro - Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and of course Ireland. Of course the Euro isn't directly to blame for the world economic crisis, caused by greed and over-confidence and in certain cases I believe criminal activity, but membership of the currency with its strict rules (now largely ignored) cannot be helpful.

As for Ireland, the BBC report on rumours, not denied by the Irish government, of the country seeking bail-out from Brussels, includes some comment by one Joe Lynam in which he says:

"Now that talks have begun with Eurogroup officials, Ireland has the embarrassment of pressing ahead with day-to-day management of a country still officially Europe's third richest [...]"

Where did he find that piece of information I wonder? The table in this Wikipedia piece gives far more realistic numbers; especially interesting are the figures for GDP per capita for those non-EU members, Norway and Switzerland.

They cannot survive alone in the globalised world, can they Mr President?

Until the next time


Here's the latest from the BBC on the Irish economy and Europe.

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