Friday, December 09, 2011

EU Summit

The latest EU Summit is over. Twenty-six of the 27 EU nations have agreed to make a new treaty outside the main EU one, which is called the Lisbon Treaty, to institutionalize austerity economics in their constitutions. In the middle of the worst economic period since the Great Depression.


Oh, and Britain balked at the treaty change.

This will not solve the euro's problems. Britain's refusal to go along is another big step toward the dissolution of the EU as it currently exists. The latest summit outcome is a prescription for accelerating the budding recession in Europe, aggravating the sovereign debt crisis, bringing down several of Europe's already-weak large banks, and sweeping away decades of patient diplomatic work to build peaceful and stable relations among European nations.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?


The stock markets didn't seem to be much perturbed on Friday, for whatever that's worth. European stocks went up, and as of this writing the Dow Jones looks on track to regain its losses of Thursday.

But however the stock market processes things on a given day, this is bad news, politically and economically. Europe's latest solution for the euro and banking crisis there is to double-down on austerity economics. Continue doing what's turned an easily-manageable debt crisis in Greece to a existential crisis for the European Union and a real threat of another global financial meltdown. And no way does the latest deal create a firewall for the United States against Europe's economic and banking problems.

A world on Britain's balking. What British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to do in the wee hours of Friday morning was to agree to the EU Treaty change that Princess Angie von Merkel was demanding. If the blankety-blank neocons hadn't spoiled the word "objectively" for a generation or more, I might say that objectively it's not a bad thing that Britain is well down the road to splitting off from the EU completely.

But politics is politics, so it's much more complicated that that. In terms of the real purpose of the EU - to promote peace and democracy and cooperation among nations in Europe - Britain should have been a full partner in the EU. Given economics grow rates in the rising BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and demographic trends in the BRICs and the rest of the world, without an effectively unified European Union, Europe and its individual countries will be minor players, bit players even, in world affairs during the 21st century. Britain cutting itself loose from the EU - which is what's happening with this latest move - means that in foreign policy they are choosing to be a permanent appendage to the United States in foreign policy.

On the other hand, as long as Britain's political class seems completely locked in to Britain's being a permanent appendage to the United States in foreign policy anyway, and the US' global dominance foreign policy strategy inclines the US to favor a weak EU, achieving a politically unified EU with a common EU foreign policy would require forming a revised EU without Britain's presence. In that sense, Britain's own distancing itself from the EU is not a bad thing from the viewpoint of the EU project.

But today's EU leaders, especially Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Nicolas Sarkozy, have effectively made the political and foreign policy goals of the EU project secondary or tertiary themes. The "Merkozy" duo are turning the EU into an enforcement mechanism for neoliberal economics, to which even democracy has to be sacrificed, as we see in Post-Democracy 1.0 in Greece and Italy right now.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been an anti-Europe jackass in his actions this week. He is pandering to the nationalism of the strong anti-Europe of his Conservative Party. And, of course, to the British financial lobby, commonly referred to as "the City of London" or just "The City," similar to how "Wall Street" stands for the US financial lobby. Dany Cohn-Bendit, head of the Green Party caucus in the European Parliament, says, "Cameron is a coward" for not facing up to the anti-Europe Tories.

We could say that it's a smart move on his part not to agree to writing arbitrary budget deficit and debt restrictions into a binding international treaty. But here's where we would have to say "objectively". Because Cameron is as committed to foolish austerity economics as Angie and Nick are. Cameron is using a disaster capitalism/shock doctrine approach in Britain, using the depression as an excuse to achieve neoliberal goals of deregulation and dismantling of the parts of the government that particularly benefit the 99%. And he was very public about poking the other EU leaders in the eye, declaring in Bushian style, "I said before I came to Brussels that if I couldn't get adequate safeguards for Britain in a new European treaty then I wouldn't agree to it. What is on offer isn't in Britain's interests so I didn't agree to it."

On the other hand, since the EU is obviously on the fast track to self-destruction, why shouldn't Cameron score some cheap political points with posturing against it? The real question is which will be the first eurozone country to tell Angie to take her Ordnungsökonomik and her austerity treaties and go jump in a lake somewhere.

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