For the EU it’s not the deficit, it’s the democracy that’s the problem

Simon Wolfson has offered a £250,000 prize for anyone who can come up with a Plan B for the Eurozone. Simon Miller of Financial Risks Today says he’s got it: Abolish democracy!

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Herman van Rompuy.
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Simon Miller
On 21 October 2011 23:03

I sussed it. No seriously, I’ve worked out the euro problem.

Economists can stop thinking about that £250,000 prize money. It’s mine.

This is what is needed to bring this horrible, dragging, sorry tale to its conclusion:

Abandon democracy.

Think about it. The reason why there is a deadlock between France and Germany is political.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is heading into elections and the last thing he wants is a ratings downgrade or even worse a banking collapse, to give succour and, more importantly, votes to Marine Le Pen.

Over in Germany, the voters are sick to death of picking up the bill for Europe and this is being reflected in the growing impatience of the coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel who, to add to her troubles, now finds herself hemmed in by a ruling from the Constitutional Court.

And look at those glorious bureaucrats in the European Union. They get it. They also can see that democracy is preventing them from doing what they wish.

Only this week, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy warned that it was “dangerous to let the fate of the world economy depend on domestic policy squabbles within the parliament of one of the 17 [Eurozone] countries, large or small”.

In the ultimate expression of the ever-growing mission creep of the EU, he added that further fiscal discipline and economic and fiscal integration was needed with countries accepting a “loss of sovereignty for all”.

You see, Van Rompuy is a visionary. They all are.

Over in Brussels, they have worked out that those pesky voters and their domestic squabbles are to blame. Never mind that for the likes of Germany, Holland and the UK, voters are individually forking out a fortune on this corporatist dream.

Why should they have a say in the billions squandered, most probably illegally, in propping up countries and banks through the European Stability Mechanism and the European Central Bank?

And never you mind, you voters, that some Eurocrat will soon be able to come into your country and rule on the budget and spending polices of a government that you had voted in. Remember, this is all in the name of Europe.

Although I have frequently called out the Eurozone for its dithering and indecisiveness, it is actually healthy for the body politic to behave this way.

What the politicians are failing to do is to devise a plan that can be presented to the people of Europe.

If there is an argument for more German money pouring in or for French banks taking a haircut, find it and make it to your voters.

If they understand, and if they believe you, then you will be voted in again. Hiding behind “manifesto promises” or internal issues will not help you find the solution to this mess.

This democratic deficit extends to the UK.

From the Bank of England printing money, to buying bad banks and guaranteeing loans to the Eurozone, these actions have been done without the participation of the voter.

Now, of course in a representative democracy we expect our parliamentarians to represent us and take actions on our behalf.

But Europe is an area where there has been a deficit since 1975. I, and millions like me, am of a generation that has never had a say on the direction of Europe and our position in it.

I have grown up watching the Common Market mutate into the single market, European monetary union, and now a vicious land-grab on our economic policies through Tobin taxes and financial regulation.

Van Rompuy warned that the “great enemy of any project is the scheming mind that asks, '“What do I get out of it?"' in what I presume was a dig at the UK (though it could have been a spiteful poke at Slovakia whose parliament, in the first instance, had the audacity to reject the euro bailout scheme only to be forced into an about turn two days later).

Well, I think that rather than expecting countries just to keep coughing up ever more funds and devolve ever more of their national sovereignty, a government has a duty to find out what its citizens really want..

Prime Minister David Cameron introduced the Back Bench Business Committee to rule on whether popular petitions should be rewarded with a debate, and a non-binding vote, in Parliament.

Yet bizarrely, the government is lining up a three-line whip on the vote on our future with Europe on Monday, risking outright rebellion and resignations from the executive.

Whatever your views on Europe, surely now is the time for our representatives to debate freely and without party-bias.

It is this democratic deficit that eventually will kill the EU. Politicians should represent the wishes of the people and the bureaucrats should enact those wishes.

This fundamental principle is being turned on its head at the moment, but as with the economic deficit, eventually the bills can’t be paid.

In a democracy, this usually takes the form of a ballot box massacre but, as events in Greece and elsewhere have shown, it could turn into something altogether different, and more violent. We shall see.

By the way, actually there is one idea on solving the euro crisis that hasn’t been looked at – the hard ECU, but in reverse.

The Greeks float a new drachma tied to the Euro, used electronically and domestically while the Euro is used internationally and to honour debt.

Hopefully, the drachma would stabilise at its natural rate and Greece would have control over its interest rates and economic policies using the Euro as a control mechanism for the country’s eventual withdrawal from full monetary union.

Can I have my £250,000?

Simon Miller is the Editor of Financial Risks Today. He tweets at @simontm71 

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