In my recent article “Deutschland über alles”, I offered the opinion that Great Britain will not bow down before Brussels, but rather stick to her Atlantic identity and Commonwealth world view. Before Christmas, in preparation for a meeting of the European Union Council, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, sent a letter to Herman Van Rompuy, European Council President, in which they proposed a “stability and growth pact”, with its rules and regulations to be included in the EU treaty. David Cameron, UK prime minister, lived up to my expectations, and very wisely decided to veto the proposal.
Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, wrote on the 14th of December, that the European Union’s Council failed utterly in devising a credible remedy for the ills of the currency union, and that their proposal instead, tightened the screws on fiscal deviants. And that, Mr. Wolf writes, may feel good, but will not work. Hence the “stability and growth pact” is in reality a recipe for “an instability and stagnation union”, he writes. While I find Mr. Cameron’s veto sensible and logical, Mr. Wolf seems to share the rather common view that the veto was a political “blunder”, although, he writes, “that of the Eurozone looks far bigger”.
Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, is a newspaper that has bowed down before Brussels, hence representing the bow of approximately 25 per cent of all Norwegians. Eirin Hurum, Aftenposten’s correspondent in London, wrote about Mr. Cameron’s “blunder” on the 27th of December. She described the conservative anti-EU sentiments in Parliament, the strain in Government between the conservatives and the liberals, and the widening gap between Great Britain and continental Europe. After the “blunder”, she writes, the euro-sceptics made euphoric speeches full of victories, bulldogs, bowlers and Churchill. She offered the opinion that Mr. Cameron’s “blunder” has rendered Great Britain friendless on the Continent, and made London less interesting for Washington and Beijing. Ach so!
In Norway, a solid majority of the voters are dead against membership in the EU. In Finland, a member in the Eurozone, the conservative party “The True Finns” is supported by 19 percent of the voters, mainly because of its anti-Brussels policies. It is good reason to believe that euro-sceptics in Norway and Finland will gather further strength by recent developments in Great Britain.
However, while British anti-EU sentiments are spreading, Denmark holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2012 (January 1 – June 30). In a very interesting article in Aftenposten for the 29th of December, Odd Inge Skjævesland writes about some of the challenges the Danish government will have to tackle.
Today, the youth wing of the conservative party (“Konservativ Ungdom”) wants Denmark out of the EU. Other conservative leaders want Denmark to re-negotiate her agreements with Brussels. A negative view on the euro is widespread. A quite common criticism is that Brussels has far too much power over the members in the union. And it has not gone un-noticed that the democratically elected leaders in Italy and Greece have turned leadership over to beuraucrats whose loyalty to Brussels and the international banking sector may outweigh their loyalty to the nations they have been selected to serve and lead.
While Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark’s socialist prime minister, may be ready to bow further down before Brussels, she has to consider “the British sentiments” in her own population. These sentiments are growing by the day.
We have seen the rise of the EU, with its Eurozone disaster, financial crisis and political turmoil. Let us hope that we now will see its fall, and the return of proud, independent and co-operating European nations. That will happen if a solid majority of the German voters rise against Brussels. Such a development should not be excluded.
Happy New Year!
STEINAR R. PAULSEN