Meanwhile, the politicians of Europe seem determined to make themselves irrelevant.
So, once again, the United States has intervened to save Europe from itself. And there we were thinking that the old 20th-century pattern had been eradicated. The Federal Reserve Bank made floods of cheap dollars available last week, having come to the blood-curdling conclusion that the global banking system could only be saved from catastrophic collapse by sending in the American cavalry – Europe’s own governing class being apparently incapable of effective action.
“What on earth is the matter with Europe?” asks the rest of the world in exasperation. Is it inherently obtuse – unable to see the mess that it is in and the danger to which its incompetence is exposing everyone else? Or do its political leaders simply buckle in the face of popular pressure, too fearful of electoral retribution to confront their populations with the only real options that are available? Angela Merkel is now making seriously uncompromising noises about fiscal union: it is to go ahead, whatever anybody else says or thinks. No more messing. And Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be accepting this – for the moment. But watch this space. Rather belatedly, the European Parliament has woken up to the threat this represents to democratic principle: it has announced that if tax and spending policy is to be decided centrally by the EU, then it, being the only body elected by the people, should have co-responsibility for those decisions with the European Commission. In other words, since fiscal policy will be out of the hands of national governments, and therefore beyond the reach of a population’s own democratic process, it really ought to be accountable to some representative body. (The most extraordinary thing about this is that it was just an afterthought.)Read the rest here.