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Why the Left must reclaim Euro-scepticism again!


Great piece by Owen Jones in yesterday’s Guardian. After Greece, the Left finally waking up to the fact this isn’t a Left/ Right issue. It’s about democracy and our toads in charge of all the main parties happily handing it away.

Greece should also be a warning to Scots of what happens when you live in a country where someone else controls your currency, as was the plan for an independent Scotland. I totally believe we’d have been sucked into the Euro, of course, but even if that nonsense idea of us being tacked to the pound had been carried out the idea of a larger, rival power controlling your interest rates and international value is precisely why Greece is in trouble.

Roll on 2017 so we can finally slay this EU beast in the referendum!



I have always been in favour of the European Union, and there are still a great many things that appeal to me about it. The freedome to easily cross borders into member states, the idea that you can easily live and work in these countries. The support that studying abroad gets, or initiatives that further an understanding between countries that used to be enemies. And so on.

But yeah, if, as it seems at this point, what the EU does is mainly badgering its member states into neo-liberal free-market policies that lead to a deconstruction of any social policies these states managed to build over decades… then yeah, it’d better be gone. Currently, no sane country should be applying to adopt the Euro, and I doubt they will.


I think there’s a great danger of equating EU membership with signing up to the Euro. Those two things are not the same, and given recent events I think it’s highly unlikely that it would be on the table for the UK for a very long time.

I also think that deciding to vote ‘No’ in the upcoming UK referendum at this point is premature: if Cameron does manage to renegotiate terms of membership, then that’s what we’ll be voting on, and we don’t really know what form that might take at this point.

Personally, I think I’ll probably be voting ‘Yes’ regardless, as I’m in favour of EU membership for the UK even under the current terms.

Is it a perfect institution? No, not by a long way. Are the recent events in Greece and elsewhere cause for concern? Of course.

But I don’t think the best reaction to that is to walk away from it. I think it’s to be part of the solution, and actively contribute to making things better.

Eddie Izzard used to do a great routine about how the UK always complains about the EU while at the same time refusing to engage with it on the same level as the other big European nations; how we want to be “in the driving seat of Europe” when actually we’re not even in the passenger seat, or the backseat, but we’re sort of running alongside the European car and refusing to get in.

(It was funnier than I’ve made it sound.)

Ultimately, I think we get many benefits from EU membership - not just economic, but also social and cultural - and it’s not something that I would want us to throw away rashly. Reform is needed, but let’s be part of that reform.


I am not sure about Euro scepticism, so much as accountability. The whole Euro group deciding on the fate of Greece was made of national Finance Ministers, obviously working towards their own national interest, which is why Greece ends up with the deal they did, 20 of Alexis Tsipras voted against the deal and there is the rioting in the streets of Athens.

The problem with the Euro project was that I think there was an unspoken understanding that all of the individual countries would become like Germany economically speaking…and that just wasn’t the case here in Ireland nor was it the case in Greece. Ultimately it has proven to have been an ill thought out, politically motivated idea.

But I don’t think that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. My country has been a very large beneficiary of EU membership, both from an economic and social standpoint. I couldn’t imagine what life would be like on the outside. I would prefer to argue for reform. I certainly think that after the events of last weekend in particular, the EU is a much less happy place to be. I don’t think that the German government made a lot of friends this weekend.

Fintan O’Toole had a good piece in the Irish Times on Tuesday on this same subject. While I don’t agree with everything he says (nor do I ever), he makes some good points


Trouble is, the EU answer to Europe’s plan is a more centrally controlled EU. There’s some nonsense on Hansard where they only make 25% of Britain’s laws or whatever, but a quick google shows it’s really upwards of 65% and this is only increasing. Nobody who voted to go into EU voted for the Euro, but they got it anyway and mark my words if a Yes wins in 2017 we’ll be in that project (which they’re doing everything to keep afloat) within a few years.

Choice is not an option sadly. I agree a common market has a lot of advantages, but the plan for big business is a fully centralised United States of Europe with easy movement for cheap labour, an elected President we can never get rid of and a complete removal of the link between voters and the people who run their lives. Greece is a great example of the contempt they have for the public. A firm No vote just ignored and they move on, offering a worse deal than before.



The ‘No’ vote in Greece was an internal matter: the Greek people rejecting the package offered by their own government. It’s something that the Greek government was (or should have been) accountable to, but not the outside forces they were negotiating with.

Certainly Greece was coerced into taking a deal that it didn’t want, but it was the government that ignored the will of the people by accepting it.

[quote=“Mark_Millar, post:5, topic:1154”]There’s some nonsense on Hansard where they only make 25% of Britain’s laws or whatever, but a quick google shows it’s really upwards of 65% and this is only increasing.
This is one of those things that’s really impossible to quantify in such terms. We have statutory instruments that allow EU law to be recognised and implemented in our country, so in a sense all UK law is made by the UK, we just choose to agree to incorporate law generated by the EU.

Even without that semantic distinction, there are entire areas of our law that we don’t allow to be governed by EU legislation, just like other EU members.

And even ignoring that, I’m not sure how you quantify law in this way. Is it by the word? By the individual statute? By the scope of its impact?


It is probably an easier choice for a country like the UK, but for a smaller country like Ireland, dependent as we are on international trade, it would be a much bigger change. We have a team in the Department of the Taoiseach (our Prime Minister) working on contingency plans if the UK leaves the EU. While it wouldn’t happen (our Government were very much the good soldiers in admonishing Greece over the course of those negotiations), I suspect their collective heads would melt in a scene reminiscent of the end of Raiders if they had to consider an exit from the EU.


Eurosceptics have been trying to keep us out, then trying to get us out, of the EU for decades. It’s taken until this crisis to really have an issue that the general public can get behind.

This is bad. The way the UE and IMF and the international financial sector in general is treating Greece is really excessive and indefensible.

But that’s not a reason for ditching the whole concept of a common European market or even a common currency. It’s a demonstration that people can be dicks and that powerful people can do a lot of damage when they are dicks.

This needs reform and it needs it soon, but throwing the baby out with the bath water just doesn’t seem like the way to go.


And I mean this with total and heartfelt admiration, but that is some of the best political commentary I have read since this whole Euro crisis blew up.


Steve’s right that in the end, it’s the execution as much as the idea most of the time.

There’s much made of Norway being outside the EU but they have so many various agreements they may as well be in. They are in Schengen so have no borders within the EU while the UK and Ireland are in the EU and do. A lot of the members have various opt-outs and compromises, for example the UK has an exception to the working time directive where you can sign away the right (I did it once on the past because I was young and the overtime pay was great).


I just saw this in the Guardian concerning criticism of the German government’s approach of the negotiations with Greece.


I’m in disagreement with Mark about this. I think in the quest to stay local the perspective on global and what that really means is being lost. Europe really does need to become a United States, with a similar model of federal and state law control. Standards needs to be agreed on everywhere on things like retirement age, health coverage, pension levels, education standards, basic welfare services and so on. Many of those should reach common ground, and not having that in place is one of the reasons Greece is such a total shitshow.

It works, even though people raised in a separated Europe might not see it. States still have their own flavor, don’t lose their individual identity, can keep their traditions, don’t see their labor forces move away or their jobs disappear, each state is seen for it’s particular strengths and the removal of barriers only stands to help things.

And a single currency is one of those things that facilitates so much business that not having one creates a real barrier that technology can’t easily compensate for and will allow for the manipulation of the price of goods that doesn’t really stand with one visible standard. It’s a bit like having a single language, which is coming too (it’ll be the language software is developed in).

I think if Europe remains divided it’ll have weaker standing particularly as the Asian nations figure out their own united framework (which has to happen in the next 20 years or so). I’ve always thought the quest for local control is a bad one as there’s a belief there’s more accountability and local support, but I’ve found instead that there’s far more corruption sold as a much lower cost. You only need to look at the actions of local councils on things like community development, commercial contracts or planning permission and you see an absolute ton of handshake deals happening everywhere.


I can see the logic of that, but I wonder whether it would really appeal in the short term to EU countries that currently still have such differences between them, whether economic or cultural.

I think if the EU did move toward that federal model (which is an eventual possibility), it would happen over a very long time so that the necessary transitions could be made to bring everyone to a similar level (living standards, pay, healthcare, education, legal harmonisation etc.).


I can see the logic in Jim’s argument, but I think that sort of change is years away. We have seen the rise of nationalism throughout Europe in the last couple of years, in sometimes a benign way and sometimes a much less benign way, and a lot of politicians hitching their wagon to that issue.

I have been working for one multinational or another for almost 20 years now, and believe that sort of thinking is becoming more and more obsolete now. However I think that there would be a job of work in getting people to sign up to a more Federal Europe, particularly after the Greek crisis.


Europe hasn’t had a visionary leader that has sold everyone on what that future could look like. As a result without a vision everything happens very slowly and unsexily. The differences in languages make that quite difficult for any one individual, but it’ll have to happen as there might not be a very long time to get things on the right track. It’ll probably take a generation, but it’s a shame if it does.


There’s no doubt that the bloody minded way that Greece has been handled has damaged the image of the EU and greatly reduced any chance of increased integration.

But then it should, it shows that reform is needed on what we have already, let alone any more.


I can’t disagree there at all, local politics where I come from is full of that crap. I’m happy that say at the Welsh assembly level those back scratching things aren’t pervasive, which I guess would be comparable to state level, but at the local council I would’t trust any of them as far as I could thrown them. They are making decisions like whether their pal’s aunt gets a council house.


A common currency will work when there is a common financial policy, a common sharing of the burdens, and common financial interests. That is certainly not the case at the moment in the EU. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands may say they’re trying to save the union, but they’re not subjecting themselves to the same pains and burdens as Greece, and the politicians are doing almost entirely what their own population is demanding, rather than something that benefits the whole EU.

That said, some things about the EU are good. The EU is good for moving around without border checks and not having to exchange money when traveling in the eurozone, as well as cooperating in things like law enforcement, human rights, and foreign policies. But when the EU thinks it can dictate policies to member states, they are seriously mistaken about their posittion. It will al blow up in their faces.


C++ ? :confused:


Merkel does seem a very sympathetic character. “F*** you, now let’s hug”.