All quiet on the euro front?


What will become of the EU countries outside a more tightly co-ordinated Eurozone? In Au Revoir, Europe: What if Britain Left the EU? David Charter, a Times journalist, argues that the combined dynamics of growing Euroscepticism in the UK and increasing integration in the Eurozone mean that London will either have to negotiate a form of second-tier membership – some have proposed making a virtue of a looser outer ring, which could include Turkey and the Balkan states as well as Britain – or quit the EU altogether. One can see why many in Europe might welcome that possibility. Britain has loyally fulfilled De Gaulle’s prediction that it would serve as a Trojan horse for US interests in Europe. Cameron has lately spared no efforts in defending London’s derivative traders – mostly subsidiaries of US banks – from EU regulation, let alone taxes, while backing savage austerity programmes and urging Germany to step up to the mark. Charter’s history of the UK’s relationship with Europe is a useful reminder that much of what people loathe about the EU has been the result of British intervention. Polls say a majority would favour a single market – Thatcher’s dream – without the mass of EU regulations, but the latter are a precondition for the former. By the 1980s, every advanced industrial economy had built up its own web of health and safety rules, not without reason: specifications for product labelling; safety requirements for electrical appliances; protocols for food standards and abattoir inspection agencies; restrictions on toxic substances, such as lead paint on children’s toys.

more from Susan Watkins at the LRB here.