Right now, the EuroSceptics across Europe are enjoying a moral ascendancy. Peter Oborne was able to openly ridicule a Eurocrat on Newsnight to the extent that Amadeu Altafaj-Tardio stormed off, with Oborne receiving barely a ticking off from Paxman. The Germans are close to refusing to pay the bills, the Italians are reliant on the ECB for solvency and Ireland, Portugal and especially Greece have seen their economies destroyed by an inappropriate currency union. From his Spectator essay last week
Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics. The field is theirs. They were not merely right about the single currency, the greatest economic issue of our age — they were right for the right reasons. They foresaw with lucid, prophetic accuracy exactly how and why the euro would bring with it financial devastation and social collapse
This credibility was hard-won. The BBC, The FT, the CBI and even the Tory party were all infiltrated by extreme Euro-fanatics who painted those sceptical of the project as a Lunatic fringe. Fortunately, the Fleet-street Newspapers knew which way the British public felt. By the skin of our teeth, the UK was kept out of the Euro. For the UK the price was the credibility of the Tory party and 13 years of Labour idiocy. All reasonable people, even the Leader of the Liberal Democrats and at least one of their former leaders who argued strenuously for Britain to ditch the pound, are now on record as saying the Euro will not be suitable “for the foreseeable future”. The sceptics have been utterly vindicated.
It would be unwise to dent this credibility by suggesting things as “inevitable” such as Greek withdrawal or a currency collapse, which aren’t. The ECB, in common with other money-issuing central banks, can in final analysis, print enough money to meet any and all liabilities. The Eurozone as a whole is in considerably better fiscal shape than the USA or Japan. The UK despite the advantages of a long maturity debt profile is STILL running a 10% deficit, and is catching up fast with Germany & France’s debt as a percentage of GDP. The question of whether the Eurozone stays together is ultimately one of political will. And there seems no chink in the Armour of the European political class’s will to defy their people, people whom it should be remembered are not yet voting en mass for deeply Euro sceptic parties. Euro sceptics must remember that most people really don’t think “Europe” a big issue. Not big enough to change their vote. Until they think it is, they will tend to vote for the Status Quo, or allow themselves to be led by the political class on an esoteric issue of which they have little understanding.
This is why I believe the Euro will survive this crisis, intact. Enough money will be printed to keep all the nations together, only Greece and then possibly Portugal & Ireland will default. Financial crises come around once every 10 years or so. The next one will probably not affect the EU, so at a guess, the Eurozone will not face another significant challenge for a couple of decades. In the mean-time, the growth-denying aspects of the way the Eurozone is structured will fuel Euro sceptic parties across the EU, who will have received a boost from this crisis. The next crisis may find traction in a more skeptical political class. Or it may not.
Rather than indulging in wishful thinking, by saying “the end of the EU is nigh”, we have to CONTINUE to make the arguments. Events are not yet going to do it for us. The end of the disaster for economic growth and democracy that is the European Union is unfortunately some way off. We cannot pat ourselves on the back just yet.