“The treatment Greece got from the apparatchiks in Brussels opened a lot of eyes, possibly even more than the tyrannical approach to referendums in France, Poland and Ireland rejecting the Treaty of Lisboa. But it’s not enough.
The concept of resisting the EU or even renegotiating its nature (from “a USSR with well stocked shops” to a much more harmless free trading zone) is not exactly new: Enoch Powell was warning against the EU even before Solzhenitsyn. But the idea of an organized political resistance to it is a novel concept.
Syriza got literally slaughtered because, for all its good intentions, it was never a genuine anti-EU movement. Some coalition members were vocal supporters of a voluntary, negotiated Grexit, but their voices were quickly drowned by those who wanted to have the pie and eat it too.
This was a lesson anti-EU movements appear to have picked up, at least by the tone of their rhetoric. Negotiating with Brussels is not only useless, but counterproductive as well.
Firebrand Euroskeptics such as Italy’s M5S advocate nothing less than severing all contacts with the EU.
Even France’s relatively moderate FN has introduced in its highly detailed program the need to completely renegotiate the underlying nature of the EU.
Now, while these political movements continue to win new converts, they have been effectively marginalized: M5S is Italy’s first party by number of votes but it was completely excluded from any government position and effectively whitewashed from mainstream media.
Portugal has gone one step further by barring the anti-austerity Socialist Party from government because “it would send the wrong signals to financial institutions”.
Pro-EU, pro-big business sock puppets like Mariano Rajoy of Spain and Matteo Renzi of Italy may feel safe now in their belief they are in control but their puppeteers’ attempts at whitewashing dissent and the open threats by sinister figures such Michael Froman betray growing desperation on their part.
Sure, more parties will be barred from power, perhaps another country will be made an example of as Greece was, the threats and the propaganda will continue but it’s a historical inevitability (eh! eh!) the EU in its present form will fail.
As someone once said “No government, no matter how tyrannical, can survive for long without at very least the silent consent of the majority”.
Consent for the EU is not just waning: it’s quickly turning into open contempt if not downright hatred.
Yet EU so called leaders continue to display the same infinite arrogance, forgetting Ho Chi Minh’s priceless advice “Always be humble, even in victory”.
That is a brilliant piece of summing up. Well done “MC” and thank you.
Of course, I then realized that I could not just leave the story hanging in mid-air. So here is Don’s complete article as well.
The name of the game is fear.
Brexit poses a far greater threat to the European establishment than Grexit ever did. The UK may not be in the Eurozone, but it is Europe’s second largest economy. Hence the rabid fear-mongering about the potential consequences for the UK of a yes-vote in a future in-out referendum.
Millions of jobs will disappear, the doomsayers warn. Universities will lose their funding. The City of London will decamp to Frankfurt. British farmers will lose their subsidies. Human rights will vanish into thin air. Planes will fall out of the sky. And one day the lights will all go out.
This endless parade of doom-and-gloom scenarios is an essential part of Europe’s eternal extortion game. The same extortion game has already played out in Greece. And before that, in Ireland. The name of the game is fear, and its ultimate aim is to ensure that no meaningful change is ever allowed to take place in Europe’s bankrupt political system.
The latest warning of Brexit doom and gloom did not come from London or Brussels; it came from across the Atlantic, from arguably Britain’s closest historic ally, the U.S. of A.
The chosen messenger was U.S. Trade Rep Michael Froman. The message he delivered was unequivocal: the US is “not in the market” to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with “individual nations” like Britain. Once out of the EU, the UK would be a nobody nation, a friendless state shunned by its erstwhile allies. No more special relationships, no more five-eye meetings, no more invites to White House black-tie dinners.
In a 2009 article for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi described Froman as one of the most egregious examples of the way the revolving door works between business and government. Like Larry Summers, Froman is a Bob Rubin protégé. Along with them, he helped lay the foundations for President Clinton’s deregulation of the U.S. financial system. And like them, he is just as comfortable in Wall Street C-suites as in Washington’s corridors of power.
In his current role as U.S. Trade Representative, Froman is negotiating on behalf of the U.S. government (and corporate and banking sectors) some of the most far-reaching trade agreements (TPP, TTIP and TiSA) of modern history. And according to Froman, if the people of Britain aren’t careful, they will be excluded from them (an outcome that some might actually view quite favorably).
“I think it’s absolutely clear that Britain has a greater voice at the trade table being part of the EU, being part of a larger economic entity,” Froman told the news agency Reuters, adding that European Union membership gives the United Kingdom more leverage in negotiations.
Another BRIC in the Wall
Froman’s stark warnings are a slap in the face for campaigners in Britain who are making the case for leaving the EU, reports Politico. The “Better Off Out” campaign cites “freedom to make better trade deals with other nations” as the first reason to leave the EU.
Yet according to the man who negotiates trade deals on behalf of the government of the world’s most powerful nation, if Britain leaves the EU, it “would be subject to the same tariffs, and other trade-related measures, as China, or Brazil or India.” Ouch!
If we are to take Froman’s blustery words at face value, a post-Brexit Britain will be just another BRIC in the wall. To make sure the message sinks in, Standard & Poor’s followed up with its own analysis, warning that if Britain voted to exit the EU it may lose its triple-A credit rating, for the first time since 1978.
Why All the Fear?
It’s not hard to see why the US government might be concerned about the prospect of a British exit from the EU. As its biggest trading partner, the U.S. wants a strong, healthy Europe. Which means a Europe that is not in the process of disintegrating.
The UK accounts for one sixth of the EU economy. It is also an important source of external demand and is currently the second largest net contributor to the EU’s operating budget in absolute terms, behind Germany, and the fourth largest as a percentage of GNI, behind Sweden, Denmark and Germany. If Britain were to leave, the EU would need to either cut spending or increase contributions by other member states, up to a maximum of 5.8% of current levels, in order to make up the difference.
That is a big ask for a region that has spent years languishing in economic purgatory, with some governments already in virtual bankruptcy. Meanwhile the region’s sugar daddy, the German economy, is watching its largest bank and car manufacturer suffer their worst quarterly losses in decades. The last thing the EU needs right now is to lose its second biggest source of funds.
Crossing the Threshold
But it’s not just about money. Naturally the U.S. would much prefer to deal with just one partner – Brussels – in its convoluted trade negotiations with Europe. It also wants to safeguard Europe’s transition to a fully supranational system of governance, a project that the U.S. government has strongly supported and actively (and covertly) assisted since the creation, in 1951, of the European Coal and Steel Community. That’s over half a century worth of political capital.
And now that capital is at risk. The British government, largely in response to public pressure, has done the unthinkable: it has offered the people of Britain a democratic choice between continued membership or exit of the world’s most ambitious experiment of regional integration. If the people vote for the latter, they will force open a door that doesn’t yet exist. Once open, that door may prove difficult to shut. Others may be tempted to cross its threshold.
For that reason alone, the business and political establishment in Brussels, London, and now Washington will stop at nothing to make sure that when the big day comes, the British people, like the Irish before them (second time around, of course), vote the right way.”