Friday, October 07, 2011

Amidst the torrent of words, a creeping towards more EU integration

Gavin Hewitt
With the Eurozone being walloped yet again with rating agencies downrating EU bank debt, with politicians all over the map, and the UK's David Cameron trying desperately not to even be on the map (the EU is a massive wedge issue in the Tory party), and with even the financial advisor to Obama flying across to the EU to lecture them on how to solve their second meltdown crisis talk about hubris!), we still find gleanings of hope for a more integrated Europe.

Gavin Hewitt, the European Editor of the BBC News, hit the nail right on the head when he wrote this:

When President Barroso was meeting Angela Merkel yesterday, they used a much-feared phrase: 'treaty change".

"We may need treaty change for more integration, if current financial mechanisms are proved not to be enough."

Treaty changes move slowly through the European thicket, but they are words that David Cameron does not want to hear because - if it happens - his party will expect him to bargain, to get something in exchange for Britain's support.

Writing in the Financial Times, Howard Davies and David Green call for more candour from Europe's politicians, explaining why in a monetary union responsibility for debt has to be shared, or why purely national budgets cannot continue.

The truth is that in Europe there is a torrent of words but little clarity, and little levelling with the voters. Having a ringside seat at the eurozone crisis is to witness a torrent of daily comment about Europe and its troubled currency.

National leaders, unelected commissioners, IMF officials, the European commentariat can't stop talking. It even prompted the US Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, to urge Europe to speak less and, when it does, with one voice.

That is, of course, impossible because there is not an agreed plan. And often it is in what is left unsaid where truth lies.

Hewitt is right about Cameron running for the hills on the issue of exactly what the EU was, is and wishes to be.

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