Tuesday, 10 May 2016
An idiot's guide to why we should leave the EU (Pt 3) - The Euro
"But that's the Euro not the EU, we're not in the Euro."
So goes the mantra from EU fans as they argue against Brexit criticisms of the EU's economic performance. And it's true that the UK isn't a member of the Euro. It's also true that the Euro is absolutely central to the future of the EU project.
But first let's remind ourselves just how bad the Euro has been for many Europeans - here's youth unemployment:
The price of Euro membership for Greeks, Spaniards, Italians and Cypriots is that their children have no job nor much prospect of a job. And remember that, as we noted above, the Euro is absolutely central to the entire EU project, it is the tool used to force integration and those young people dumped on the scrapheap are the human cost of 'ever closer union'.
So why does all this matter to the UK? After all we're not a member of the Euro and us joining is dependent on a referendum (assuming some future government doesn't amend the law mandating a poll in the case of treaty changes). It matters because, so long as we are not members of the Euro, the UK will be detached from the main EU project - we will be just as removed from critical economic decisions as we would be were we outside the EU. This isn't just about specific decisions relating to the currency itself but a host of other economic decisions - including, as we saw with Italy, the imposition of an unelected technocratic government.
You cannot separate decisions made to ensure that the Euro doesn't implode from decisions made to promote the EU project. The main economic decisions affecting the future of the EU are not being made through the cumbersome EU bureaucracy but through discussions between Euro participants (in particular Germany and France) and inside the European Central Bank. Unless advocates of remaining in the EU are saying we should join the Euro they are, in effect, arguing for a UK position just as detached from decision-making as that of Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. But without the flexibility and choices that those countries have.
So when EU fans argue that we won't have to join the Euro they are, in effect, trying to tell us we can have our cake and eat it (although it's a pretty foul tasting cake). We'll be at the 'top table' but outside the main driver of Europe's economic strategy, the Euro. Now I think this is great as the Euro is a disaster but I can't see there's any substantial difference between the situation of nations outside the EU but within Europe's free trade zone and nations inside the EU but outside the Euro. Except, of course, that the first group of nations aren't pretending they're influencing the EU when they aren't. The certain outcome of Brexit is to shift the UK from the latter group of countries to the former - instead of being inside the EU but outside the group of nations deciding the EU's economic direction, we'll be outside the EU and still sidelined from economic decision-making. Even better the UK will be in a position to make its own decisions about industrial support and infrastructure and to conduct its own negotiations about international trade.
Brexit frees the UK from the straitjacket of EU decisions designed just to shore up the Euro. Brexit allows us to make our own choices about economic policy. And Brexit allows for greater flexibility in trade and investment. Put simply, unless the intention is to join the Euro, there is no advantage at all (if you consider joining that train crash of a currency any sort of sensible idea) to remaining a member of the EU. Brexit is good for Britain's economy.