Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

The EU faces its Dunkirk.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 26, 2011 in British Politics, European Union, Irish Politics |

Churchill, one of Europe's founding fathers.

Churchill, one of Europe's founding fathers.

Reading the British eurosceptic media, it only dawned on me recently that they are against the EU primarily because they’ve never understood it. Just consider Britain’s unique position: a former global power that due to its geographic location has managed a certain form of detachment. They say they want a common market and no more, never quite understanding that a common market alone was never what was on the menu. Whose fault is that? Possibly their own leaders, certainly, but they honestly cannot blame the rest of Europe for wanting to integrate closer, because that closer integration is in Europe’s interest.
Of course, they now point to the euro crisis as evidence that the entire project is a mistake. It is true that a crucial flaw in the euro, the lack of a functioning fiscal union, is now threatening the very existence of the single currency, and it is true that eurosceptics pointed this flaw out from the very beginning. But it is also true that for ten years the euro did provide stability, prosperity, low inflation and price transparency, sometime the British eurosceptic media has airbrushed out of the story.
So, to put it in terms that the Daily Mail will understand: this is our Dunkirk. This is our darkest day, and like Britain in June 1940, things are looking grim. Our previous strategy hasn’t worked the way that we hoped, but neither did Churchill’s. There were those who told Churchill that the British army was finished, its equipment abandoned on beaches in Northern France, and that he should abandon his plan to defeat fascism and compromise with the new conventional wisdom, and make peace with Hitler’s new Europe. But he didn’t. He adapted and stuck to his principles, and won. Like Churchill, we’re not going to give up because this is too important and because we too actually believe in our cause. It’s that which British eurosceptics have never understood, because they have never believed that we could feel as patriotic and as passionate about our cause as they are about theirs. We do, and we’re not going to walk away. It’s just too important.


david morris
Dec 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Seasonal Greetings

Rather than frotting yourself into the make believe world of idealised WestWing politics, why not focus on the benefits that the mighty Euro has brought to Ireland ?

These can briefly be summarised here : http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=17418

I realise you smart at being shown the way to salvation by one you perceive as representing the wicked Brits, but I can assure you that Mr Mitchell (being an uppity colonial himself) has no axe to grind in this regard.

Kind regards

Jason O
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm

I agree with a lot of what he says. The EU did not go federal enough.

french derek
Dec 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

The problem with your Churchill analogy is, the EU doesn’t have a Churchill. Instead what we have is a disjointed group of “leaders” who think first of their own nation and only second of the EU. It’s their nation’s survival that’s at risk, not the EU’s. And, in terms of the Irish dilemma, it’s a question of home politics, rather than EU policies. Think job-creation?

I found bilbo’s blog really interesting – and helpful, thank you david. From his analyses it seems that Ireland’s famous (totem-status) low business rate is of no great value. So, it could be ditched if EU federal fiscality were to require?

Federalism, and the lack of it, is the “elephant in the room”. We now have (almost) federal governance in the EU: an elected Parliament; an unelected Commission accountable to Parliament; plus (supposedly) joint decision-making between Parliament and the Council of Ministers. (I add ‘almost’, because the Council retains the power to over-ride Parliament – which it does, too often). What we don’t have is federal fiscality. Why not? Because of those nation-minded “leaders” who comprise the Council. Sarkozy especially cannot stomach the idea of the Commission holding fiscal supremacy (and he’s not alone, I’m afraid).

Until this last problem is dealt with – by someone strong enough to crack heads together (ie a Churchill) the EU and the Euro will hobble on.

The EU flag is a blue ground. So, echoing that lovely man John McCormack, I’ll hold still to the “Wearin’ o’ the Blue”.

Jason O
Dec 28, 2011 at 9:21 am

Derek, I agree. The last Churchill we had was Delors.

Dec 29, 2011 at 2:43 am

And of course the reality is most people in Europe have never wanted greater integration, an ever closer union. All the evidence is they like their nation States.

Jason O
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:55 am

You assume we can’t have both. A citizen of Alabama and San Francisco can both be proud of their homes and America.


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