Europe, done right
That we would face a euro crisis someday was clear from the beginning. Everybody who had a little understanding of how currencies work knew that you cannot make a common currency with 27 independent states and 27 different policies. When the euro was born in 2002 it was crystal clear that we had passed the point of no return on our way towards the United States of Europe. Period.
The problem was that our politicians lied to us and made us believe that you can run a common currency by just coordinating the national policies of more than twenty independent states. That was nonsense. That was the biggest mistake our politicians could ever make, because we lost time. Time, we would have needed to accomplish European unity in an orderly manner before the whole system crashed. Now it is too late.
Their lying was self-delusion. And this was the common foundation of European politics. Making small insufficient steps towards a federal European state was a good policy for many years. I hate to cite a business magnate on this but George Soros acknowledged this unconscious step-by-step approach in his speech in Trento, Italy.
»The process of integration was spearheaded by a small group of far sighted statesmen who practiced what Karl Popper called piecemeal social engineering. They recognized that perfection is unattainable; so they set limited objectives and firm timelines and then mobilized the political will for a small step forward, knowing full well that when they achieved it, its inadequacy would become apparent and require a further step. The process fed on its own success, very much like a financial bubble. That is how the Coal and Steel Community was gradually transformed into the European Union, step by step.«1
Everyone relied on that. Investors and citizens believed that we would go all the way to the United States of Europe sooner or later. But suddenly the German chancellor Angela Merkel recalled this common understanding of the European process. George Soros again:
»The process [of integration] culminated with the Maastricht Treaty and the introduction of the euro. It was followed by a period of stagnation which, after the crash of 2008, turned into a process of disintegration. The first step was taken by Germany when, after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Angela Merkel declared that the virtual guarantee extended to other financial institutions should come from each country acting separately, not by Europe acting jointly.«2
Merkel turned the crisis of a common financial bubble into a crisis of our currency and therefore into a crisis of the European Union as a whole. This is her personal failure and an epic one at that, but it is also a failure of our whole political elite. The process of disintegration was not stopped before it could do major harm by a strong European answer to the financial threats of the banking crisis, but it was amplified by small-minded national egoism.
When you have one currency you have to act as one. It was the worst thing possible to force the countries to save their banks themselves and it is still the worst thing possible to force the countries to solve the problems of their national debt by themselves. The real problem is not that Greece is not Germany but that Germany asks Greece to solve a common European problem – the lack of unity.
Why do investors buy government bonds with an interest rate next to nothing or even with a negative interest rate? Because they want security. It’s that simple. In rough times investors rediscover real values. Real values are economic power, education and political stability. The European Union is the biggest common market in the world with a huge GDP, with largely well educated citizens prospering for decades due to a long period of peace and through being the biggest democracy in the world. We have everything that is needed to give investors the peace of mind they want in uncertain times. But in less than five years our politicians changed the stronghold of stability into a ramshackle chicken coop with the chickens running around with their heads cut off.
Now these chickens have worsened the situation by their stupid policy of austerity. What are the consequences of austerity? All fundamentals go down. Economic power lessens, education is neglected and political stability is at risk due to social uprising. Not a scenario to cool down markets!
But there are two solutions for the current crisis. Either you turn Greece into Germany or you turn the chickens coop into a strong political union. The choice is easy.
We have to get back on the old track to a real European Union. We need Europe done right. We need a common economic and fiscal policy, we need, to put it simply, unity. We need a European constitution, no more treaties. We need European ballots for parliament. We need a European government elected by the European parliament. We need Europe done right!
I know that this scares the wits out of many euro sceptics especially in the UK. But you will never turn Greece into Germany.
It is time for an European movement to step forward and shape the forefront of the effort. After five decades of being the project of a small political elite now we, the people, must step in and set the agenda. And I would really love to see the European Pirate Party3 spearheading this movement.
PPEU.net. 2013. Internet: http://ppeu.net/. Zuletzt geprüft am: 22.9.2014.
Remarks at the Festival of Economics, Trento Italy George Soros. 2012. Internet: http://www.georgesoros.com/interviews-speeches/entry/remarks_at_the_festival_of_economics_trento_italy/. Zuletzt geprüft am: 14.6.2012.
Remarks at the Festival of Economics, Trento Italy George Soros. 2012. Internet: http://www.georgesoros.com/interviews-speeches/entry/remarks_at_the_festival_of_economics_trento_italy/. Zuletzt geprüft am: 14.6.2012. ↩︎