Sunday, 20 November 2011

Britain is good for Europe

A peaceful, prosperous Europe in which the rule of law prevails has ever been Britain's key foreign policy aim. Europe is a key market for our goods, and key customers of our legitimate financial services (insurance, brokerage, commodities, exchange rather than the buccaneer bankers who have screwed our entire economy) - why wouldn't we want a wealthy and stable Europe? Ever since we traded wool for Burgundy wine we've aimed to maintain a balance of power in Europe; between France and Spain, Germany and Austria, France and Germany, until recently by manipulating a series of bilateral or trilateral treaties but since the EU by playing a powerful broker role under a plenary treaty, always aimed at preventing any one Euro nation getting too powerful. By and large, our influence has been good for Europe. It's encouraging that Handelsblatt as reported in Der Spiegel recognises this; 
But Germans have a better memory than the French of the complicated outsider role played by the Brits and its importance in European history. Would it be prudent to marginalize them and to eschew their weight in foreign policy? And what would Europe's defensive capabilities be without Britain? Without the Brits, would we have the European common market that we have today? And what position would Germany be in if its last closest major partner was the French?
Keeping the Hun Down, Ivan Out and the Septics In has been British foreign policy since 1945 and so far Europe has done pretty well out of it. Let's not shirk now. 


Barnacle Bill said...

West Germans would do well to remember that they were bigger benificaries of the post WW2 period than this country was.
Whilst they could rebuild their economy from virtually a clean sheet, we had to stagger along with a war worn out infrastructure and manufacturing base.
However it would appear that nothing can divert the Germanic desire to rule Europe.
Whilst Cast iron would do well to remember it was an independent Great Britain that could do what it did for Europe.

Greg Tingey said...

I wonder how many peope here have actually been to Germany, or have German friends?
The lying and ranting tosh about "the Hun" is really scary.
Remember that Merkel is an "ossie" she knows what a dictatorship is/was.....
What we have to be sacred of is the faceless bureaucrats.
And the unelected commission.

Now, how to get out of that one?

I admit, I am now in favour of leaving the EU, but joining Shengen.


Anonymous said...

I have had many German friends, since acquiring my first as a pen-pal several decades ago. Every one I have met over the years has been pleasant, welcoming, extremely generous and in the case of the older generations desperate to tell you that the war years were dreadful and it was all Germany's fault! I tell them, no it wasn't.

I have nothing against the German people, but their politicians are making a dreadful mistake by trying to save the Euro with Germany effectively running it. There are long memories in Europe's nations and people of southern Europe do not have a happy collective memory of the last time Germany took control.

Yes, it is the Eurocrats and Commissars who will be fronting the takeover of the PIGS, but they will be doing it with German money and under German direction. And that will, eventually, lead to conflict.

Merkel should dismantle the Euro and go back to the Deutschemark or, if agreement can be reached, to a EuroNord. Otherwise she, and therefore Germany, may end up with another record in the history books they would rather not have.

John said...

The problem is political. The currency ought to merely be a means of exchange but it also has a great number of political reputations invested in it. Just as the British economy came to have a lot of British political reputations invested in it and when trouble hit taxpayers were fleeced to pay our way out of it.

Taxpayer interest favours letting spendthrift nations sort themselves out via austerity and not perpetuating moral hazards by shuffling taxpayer money around the continent or printing more. Economic interest favours not re-writing the rules every time the economy gets a cold - that perpetuates another set of moral hazards. If markets understand that they you are a chicken they will exploit it.

Both north and south have benefited from the Euro and now the cost must be paid. For the south it is paying back some of the billions they have borrowed. For the north they should accept their banks have been reckless and find a way to let the bad ones fail.

Better application of pre-existing treaty obligations and financial regulations are all that was needed.

Edward Spalton said...

It is, of course, the German political class and not the German people we usually mean, when we say "The Germans" .

For an independent German view of affairs, I would suggest

There are regular reports and the historical background notes are enlightening.

I know the editor, Horst Teubert, well and helped to arrange for him to speak to a well-attended meeting in the House of Commons in 2007. He delivered the same paper in Derby and to the Marlborough Research Group. Its title was
"Germany's Bid for Great Power Status through the EU". A report and full copy of the speech can be found in the "European Voices" section of

Edward Spalton said...

I've just remembered -
for people who are having a very dull day and don't mind it getting a bit duller, I was interviewed by the American Magazine, the Philadelphia Trumpet and the title of the interview was

"Germany, the EU, the Disunited Kingdom and the Democratic Deficit"

It's not a barrel of laughs but I think that the persistent, young, American journalist did his best with me. It can be found at

Gawdelpus said...

You speak of a time when Britain retained some power in the world, that is no longer the case. Rebuild your industry, your economy and military, then your opinion may stand for something within Europe, until then expect to be ignored.

What you are watching is old Europe dying, along with their old ideas of the welfare state. Your willingness to extend your welfare to all-comers and non-contributors in the face of declining worker demographics are unsustainable.

HSBC announced two years ago and confirmed very recently that the cost of doing business was too expensive in the UK, nobody seems to have taken the warning seriously. HSBC are already relocating offices to the far east closer to the locus of financial wealth, expect that trend to accelerate even without a Tobin tax. Other banks and associated businesses will soon follow, that will be disastrous for your balance of payments, but no politician seem concerned.

Barnacle Bill you might recollect that Britain also received generous Marshall plan loans, you pissed them away on a welfare state while Germany invested in manufacturing. Blame the socialists not the Germans.

Your biggest enemy is complacency and a misplaced sense that having once had an empire gives you special priveliges. Thats old-Europe think and its a big club of failed and failing states, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and the Dutch.

The solution lies in not being a member of that club, and shrugging off complacency.