Europe – a way forward
In “The Times” newspaper (Thursday 7-Jun-12) Lord Owen has put forward an interesting model for a modern, harmonious and successful Europe. Rather than aiming to create one enormous homogeneous political and fiscal entity (the Merkel model), Lord Owen puts forward the idea that Europe’s ambition should be to aim for three distinct European groupings of nation states – but all operating under an umbrella called the European Community.
The outer and loosest part of this modern European Community would be made up from the anti-federalist states of Great Britain, the European Free Trade Association members of Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway along with other Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Denmark. The aspirant European Member states of Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro would join at this loose association level. These countries would retain their own currency and remain in control of fiscal, foreign and defence policies. They would enjoy the benefits of free trade yet not need to sacrifice their sovereignty.
The second grouping in this wider tri-zone European Community model would be called the European Union. This would be made up of those countries that are as yet unwilling or unable to comply with the strict rules of Eurozone membership. This zone might include countries such as Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Interestingly, the present Eurozone countries that are struggling to raise funds on the international money markets viz: Spain and Italy or those countries that are unable to raise money commercially and are now entirely dependent on ‘bail-out’ money to stave-off bankruptcy viz: Ireland, Portugal and Greece could join this second community. They would use or revert to their own sovereign currencies and as such would be able to manage their debts on a nation-state by nation-state, sovereign basis.
At the centre of this new European Community would be the Eurozone; the hard-core, federalist countries historically and emotionally committed to the Euro project. The members would be the traditional work-ethic northern countries of Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands along with Finland, Estonia, France, Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia and perhaps too, the smaller countries of Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus.
Now, with such a model in the public eye, might not the UK be able to address a referendum with more equanimity? The dichotomous question of “are you for Europe” or “are you against Europe” would be revealed as false. As Lord Owen suggests, there could be two very sensible “yes/no” questions viz:
1) Do you want to be a part of the single market in a wider European Community”?
2) Do you want to remain in the European Union, keeping open the option of joining the more integrated Eurozone?
Those who were in favour of the free exchange of goods and services – but were against the loss of sovereignty could answer the first question “yes” and the second question “No”.
The politicians of Europe owe it to the people of Europe to provide them with such a cathartic referendum at this most turbulent time in the short history of the European Union. Will Britain’s politicians have the courage?
Last Updated (Friday, 15 June 2012 08:08)