Ireland nears its guff-free moment on Europe.

Ireland shuffles its cards.

Ireland shuffles its cards.

Listening to Merkel and Sarkozy yesterday, it looks like a fiscal union is, if not on the cards, then certainly capable of appearing in the next pack. From an Irish perspective, this is going to mean that we actually have to do some serious thinking about what we want as a country.

See, the fact is, we’ve been very lazy about Europe. As long as EU money came our way we pretty much signed up to everything except taxes, aborting the unborn Irish in Ireland, and helping defend our way of life. But now we have to confront the reality of a higher standard of living through cheaper Eurobonds and German supervision, or a lower standard of living, exclusion from the bond markets for the short to medium term, but keeping total control over our very modest resources. What will we do?

The first thing we’ll do is get outraged, as we always do, and start throwing words like “democracy” around the place. Now, there is a democratic issue here. If we are creating a de facto US of E then we should have a democratically elected president running it, but that’s not what we mean. In Ireland, “democratic” means “other people should do what we want” and in these case it means that 80 million Germans should shut up and give 5 million Irish no strings attached money. Well guess what? 80 million Germans will almost certainly disagree with that, through their (democratic) ballots.

We need to be cool and calm about this. There is an argument that we would be better off staying out, keeping our fiscal sovereignty, and if we are willing to pay the price of having far less money to spend on public services, then it’s a strong one.

But one thing is certain. Indignant guff ain’t gonna buy us any chips at this table. 

3 thoughts on “Ireland nears its guff-free moment on Europe.

  1. Have to disagree on the modest resources bit. We’ve a population of about 4m (less than greater Manchester), a large country, massive surplus of food and capable of producing more, wind, waves, oil, gas, wood, a rich cultural heritage, perfect for further tourism growth, a booming IT industry (think google care if we’re eu or not? They’re here for the taxes)

    Now inside eu we have bloated unelected bureaucracies and we’re so desperate to impress that the citizens will assume debts of private gamblers.

    Time to leave and enjoy higher standards of living outside.

  2. Don’t get me wrong. We can opt out of Eurobonds and the bond market and make do with what taxes we can raise. But the level of public spending that will permit is far less than the current levels of spending which are being condemned as too low by NGOs et al. You would not regard that as a lower standard of living?

  3. Certainly, I agree that it’s time for a debate. Where I suspect we’ll disagree is in your contention that we have to “settle” for lower standards of living. I happen to disagree. I think we’re perfectly capable of building a prosperous, free, fully independent society. Which is not to say we *will*, but abandoning all hope and throwing ourselves on the mercy of the Germans is defeatist, to say the least. I’m prepared to put my faith in my fellow citizens.

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