Why is Germany so weak in European negotiations?

Angela Merkel is a skilful politician who has stayed at the top of German politics for a long time. This is not the same thing as a strong Germany. She inherited a tradition of making compromises for the Euro and the EU, and has made many more as the contradictions and tensions of the Euro scheme have come to the fore. Judging by what Germany has done on a whole range of “red lines”, we must conclude that Germany does give in to pressure if the cohesion of the Eurozone or the EU is under attack.

The long retreat from German principles began under Mrs Merkel’s predecessor when Germany allowed Greece and other countries that came nowhere near meeting the criteria to join the Euro to be part of the project. Under Mrs Merkel Germany has conceded over the issue of making all member states keep their budget deficits below 3%. Only recently again France has been allowed more leeway. Germany unsuccessfully opposed lending large sums to banks in trouble in the zone. Germany gave in over the huge programme of quantitative easing. Germany has been persuaded to accept a currency that regularly devalues against the dollar, yuan and sterling instead of maintaining a strong currency as Germany always argued for.

The concessions have been biggest over Greece. Germany stated strongly that Greece would not be able to borrow a Euro more unless it stuck to the loan agreements and continued with budget austerity and economic reform. Instead in recent months the European Central Bank has made available large new sums to Greece. This is money some commentators think the ECB and its main shareholders including Germany will not get back. The European authorities have also allowed Greece to borrow more through Treasury Bills to pay for the costs of government. Meanwhile Greece refuses to cut pensions more, to implement labour market reforms, and to cut the deficit as much as the European authorities want. Now there is talk of Germany relaxing the requirements for reform to allow new longer term loans to start to supplant the weekly doses of more lending from the ECB.

It appears that Germany, like the ECB, is extraordinarily flexible. It appears that the budget deficit targets, demands for economic reform, limits on borrowing and requirement for a strong currency mean little, and all can be changed if a country digs in enough. Mr Cameron should take note. It appears Germany wants to keep the UK in the EU. That means we have plenty of bargaining power, given Germany’s well known flexibility. If Germany can be flexible on printing money, on lending more to countries that have already borrowed too much, and on having a weak currency, I am sure she could also be flexible on how many EU decisions the UK just has to accept. They can carry on selling us cars whatever happens, but at risk for them is the UK’s large financial contribution to the EU.

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  1. Peter a
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    Off topic (sorry John) But just read this excellent article in telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11669159/Austerity-at-home-profligacy-abroad.html about the absurd foreign aid program. Just one ridiculous aspect being that as the definition of foreign aid is not set by us the costs of deploying HMS Bulwark in the Med doesn’t count! Of course Europe also gets to divert some of this money on their programs including to cash-strapped Argentina , who are currently buying warplanes!

    Interesting discussion over a very decent red, provided by a socialist friend, last night. He rued the fact that we don’t take enough boat people and that in the past we’ve taken many thousands after other international blow ups. I did point out that taking in 50,000 iranians during their civil war was somewhat easier as immigration was only in the tens of thousands then. They’ll all be given EU passports sharpish and be here in 2 years anyway.

    It’s also true that the armed forces , have seen a commensurately declining budget as the foreign aid crap has gone up.

    If I were starting a career now; I’d get into that field. Money for old rope and very little accountability. It’s astonishing that the very many good Tory MPs out there, yourself included John, tolerate this waste of taxpayer’s money.

    Reply We did not support the increases to 0.7%

    • JoolsB
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply:-
      Time to stand up to Cameron and the Cameroons then isn’t it John? The backbenchers have never been more powerful than they are in this parliament with the small majority you have. Start holding Cameron’s feet to the fire on foreign aid and on justice for England.

      • sjb
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        I think there is little appetite in the Conservative Party for a rerun of what happened under John Major’s premiership. In any case, wouldn’t the opposition parties’ votes trump 50+ Tory backbenchers on foreign aid?

        Much to my surprise, Cameron increased the Party’s share of the vote whilst in government – something Mrs Thatcher never achieved. With the demise of the Coalition he now has more ministerial posts at his disposal; I forget the backbench Tory MP who organised an anti-EU proposal (?private member’s bill ?2011 ?2012) … failed to continue to support it … appointed a minister.

      • DaveM
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        Hear hear.

      • Jerry
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        JoolsB; “The backbenchers have never been more powerful than they are in this parliament with the small majority you have.”

        Only true if the opposition are also going to vote against the what ever, otherwise a bit like the SNP declaring that they will oppose the EU referendum Bill when the rest of the house are in all but unanimity – a lot of noise but very little else. Choose ones battles carefully…

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Indeed and force Cameron to start some substantive EU renegotiation, rather than the current joke/faux renegotiation/photo ops.

        • Jerry
          Posted June 14, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

          @LL; Mr Cameron can not be “forced” to do anything, if he can’t rely on his own back bench then he will look for support from the opposition, if he can’t do that either then he will be asking turkeys to vote for an early Christmas if they do not like their “accommodation” -after all he has already said he will not be party leader by the 2020 GE, and if treated like John Major was he might like the ideas of early retirement!

          Time for some europhobes to grasp some reality, it is they who are in the minority, they are in no place to dictate anything.

          • Edward2
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

            However polls show it evenly balanced.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; A 50/50 chance of things being even worse for the eurosceptics then, and we all know what happened to Heath when he asked the electors to either “back me or sack me”…

          • Edward2
            Posted June 15, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

            Back me or sack me was nothing to do with the EU
            It was about trade unions like the miners striking for huge pay rises.

          • Jerry
            Posted June 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Oh do stop picking arguments without first checking basic historical facts! “Back me or sack me” was about the EU (remember Major’s previous ungraded “Bastards” comment, referring to eurosceptics within government), ask our host.who resigned from the Cabinet and stood against Major (being the only other candidate) and ran on a largely Eurosceptic manifesto.

            Edward, do you actually remember the 1990s!…

          • Jerry
            Posted June 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            @Edward2; Sorry, getting the two Conservative party leaders who asked to be “backed or sacked” confused [1], indeed Heath’s needless out-bust was about the union power and pay, but my point was actually that Heath thought he would be backed [2], just as you hope the Tory party would be backed if there was a snap election caused by the eurosceptics – when at best it is a 50/50 gamble.

            [1] whilst also listening to our host excellent speech regarding the Scotland Bill

            [2] not sacked, which was the result of his errors of judgement

          • Edward2
            Posted June 15, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

            Jerry you first spoke about Heath.
            Then you switch to the 1990s and Major.
            Two completely different things.
            Im confused but you are completely confused

          • Jerry
            Posted June 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            Edward2; “Im confused but you are completely confused”

            Indeed, perhaps, but that is what comes from debating a point about pre-EU membership political events in a discussion about current EU affairs, whilst listening to a HoC debate were much discussion was had about the future of the UK’s four devolved nations should their be a Brexit… The way the SNP were [cough]rattling on I’m just surprised that I didn’t start on about Mary Queen of Scots! 😯

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Australia stick to their guns of disallowing the boat people on to the continent and do not ponder on the ethics of it.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        Yes, can you imagine the furore if we started planting illegal immigrants in caged camps on a remote Scottish island? Somehow the Australians seem to get away with this, as with their points system for legal entry. It’d be interesting to know where all their bleeding-heart socialists are. Perhaps they’ve always been made to work. Our relaxed benefits system this past 30 years has a lot to answer for.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 13, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          Remote Scottish Island? That would certainly act as a deterrent to me.

          • Jagman84
            Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

            Or , in fact, any part of Scotland.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        The Tony Abbot route is unfortunately the sensible way to go. The other strategy (perhaps call it the bleeding heart Diane Abbot path) will cause far more drowning and misery in the end. The road to hell is surely paved with people who “think” like Diane Abbott. Indeed does she really think this or does she just want to sound “nice and kind” on the radio?

        Tony Abbot seems about the only sound Oxford PPE graduate that I have found so far.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Did you support its enshrinement in law?

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron has indeed plenty of bargaining power, she would indeed be flexible on how many EU decisions the UK has to accept if she has to be. But Cameron is not playing his cards well, nor is he even asking for anything substantive. He has not even stated his bottom lines. This should have been his first action. Once stated they have to comply or Cameron would have to call for the UK to leave.

    Changes to benefits for migrants is totally trivial in the scheme of things, it is no where near enough. He need learn some negotiation skills.

    I think you told us Cameron was a Eurosceptic at one point, do you still think that?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      I always find the honours lists rather depressing perhaps 20% richly deserved and 80% political hangers on, failed politicians, state sector time servers, second rate TV celebs and the likes.

      I see that Sir Jonathan Stephens, chair of the honours committee has said: “This list is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things on behalf of their community.” But, he added: “There is still more to do in making the list truly representative.”

      Why on earth should it be representative? Surely it should choose the most deserving regardless, instead of having targets for certain sectors of the community. Anything else is just blatant discrimination against those not in the fashionable preferred groups. Surely honours are not representative by their very nature.

      Perhaps the most blatant discrimination is towards the state sector (which is only about 20% of workers and is hugely over represented), also anyone who has been on TV a lot (almost regardless of talent or ability) and anyone who pushes the current fashionable PC or greencrap drivel.

      Rather too few top engineers, doctors, business people and scientists I think.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        This type of thing is classic establishment gorging on itself and should be stopped anyway. People should be doing things because they enjoy it or get paid for it, preferably both, and not because they might get called Sir this or Lady that. Most forms of work help people one way or another, whether gardening which might give joy to some folk or being an equal opportunities campaigner.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 14, 2015 at 4:25 am | Permalink

          “An equal opportunities campaigner” – I am not sure that they do much good. They usually want people to be selected not on merit. They are thus campaigning for active and often very severe discrimination against the other groups, usually white, healthy males.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted June 14, 2015 at 4:28 am | Permalink

          “An equal opportunities campaigner” – I am not sure that they do very much good. They usually want people to be selected not on merit. They are thus campaigning for active and often very severe discrimination against the other groups, usually white, healthy males.

          This ensures that the wrong people are in certain jobs and makes everything less efficient.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      I agree LL. My instinct is that he is joshing around, having private conversations along the lines of “what can we do to make it look as if I’ve been tough and implemented the promises in my election manifesto?”

      Mr Cameron has totally the wrong end of the stick regarding benefits and immigration. We’re fairly generous in this country and wouldn’t want to see anyone starving on the streets – it would be interesting to see an honesty poll amongst immigrants to see who really did come here just to scrounge; I reckon it would be a pretty low percentage. The issue is that we cannot currently sustain the rate of immigration therefore have to have full control over our borders, spending foreign aid money (refer to today’s first comment) on a strong, well structured, professional border force, and spending EU subscriptions on NHS, schools, defence, transport, etc, until we’re ready to take more people in.

      We have excellent diplomats who can negotiate trade deals with countries like India. Tata itself could build a new town based around a car factory!!!

      In answer to JR’s title: because, as we have seen in the past, Germany is the undisputed world champion when it comes to concept, doctrine, and rhetoric, and the undisputed perennial underachiever when it comes to acting on an international and world stage. They’re good at making stuff and playing football though.

      • DaveM
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

        Apologies for continuing my own conversation. That last sentence was meant to be flippant, but thinking about it, German football sums up their national character.

        They play their own game. It is clinical, well structured, skilful, and generally concentrates on dominating and dictating the game through possession – this usually results in them winning. However, when they come up against a team that plays with flair and is more skilful and passionate, they either lose, or win on penalties – penalties of course being a situation which can be planned and executed clinically and where they can dictate the terms with minimal opposition.

        Likewise they make their OWN cars – I may be wrong, because I can’t be bothered to research it, but I would imagine they have very few Nissan factories and the like, because to lure foreign firms to their country would require diplomacy, haggling, and negotiation.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Changes to benefits for migrants may well be “trivial” by itself. It is the collective amount of damage ( financial AND social) that the sheer number of migrants coming here that is the problem. The cost in benefits, the cost to the NHS, the cost in housing, the cost in schooling, the cost in changing to whatever THEY demand WE should do. These costs are there till the migrant dies, by which time they will have done what they are very good at – increasing their number. In this country, that equates to a “wage rise”. More kids = more benefits. In their view – why work when the stupid British leaders give us more for NOT working? Why struggle to work in the bad weather? The migrant, in their supplied house, knows they won’t lose the roof over their heads, because they will be supplied with another, rent paid from the benefits which are constantly supplied from the taxpayer. The migrant does not care about the cost ( to us ) they bring – only that it is free for those who get here (no matter how illegal their entry).

  3. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    My view over the years is that there appears to be a group type that has to destroy economies… a repetition of. It has taken the Tories to repair such events up until Thatcher/Major. This time though, its not easily repairable and the EU is yet a further irresponsible drain in the guise of a good for all. Its a wider destructive (fanatical) group type in operation currently.

    Would appear really that Germany is to be destroyed financially this time? Greece is perhaps our only hope of causing reversal of the repetitious trend we are accustomed to.

    Pity the punters….again!!

  4. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    It seems as if the continent isn’t properly understood in Britian. Countries like Germany are far more consensual, maybe because in coalitions, compromise is very normal.
    Cameron won’t be negotiating with Merkel but with a coalition of 27 countries. It could lead to the very “creative” solutions or “fudge”, as it is tried to please all participants and reach some form of consensus. Germany and France, as proponents of North and South mindsets are very important, but by far not the only determining participants.
    That part of Britain that has a mindset of its glorious past will find itself in the cold. (remember the December 2011 summit?) Only a flexible UK can hope to make a suitable deal.

    Reply Or in the future based on global vision and a whole internet of relations and contacts

    • JoeSoap
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply:

      Indeed, and this should be your positive line, Mr R, trade with the world, not just with the select few. Allow immigration worldwide on a points system, not on a racist and discriminatory basis. Discriminate on immigration by the needs of the country, not by race.

      All the do-gooder cards are stacked in our favour, really.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Infact if anything we should discriminate in favour of English speakers, of which there are rather more in India alone than the EU. Of course your Dutch correspondent might call India part of our past rather than the future, but I think to us in the UK, India is a healthy part of our future.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: In that global vision and a whole internet of relations and contacts, the UK, helped by its language, could take a leading role!But that doesn’t rhyme with disentangling yourselves from your physically nearest neighbours, the EU.
      Thinking in terms of “Anglosphere” as some eurosceptics do, begs the question why this is not positively responded to by the other parts of this utopia: Countries like Australia clearly want the UK to be a full-fledged EU member. Personally, I fear that, although every Briton knows that the glorious past is indeed the past and won’t return, deep in the unconscious of the British mindset, it cannot say farewell to this past, it can not even start to think about concepts like deep interdependence coupled with items of shared sovereignty. It is really curious to me that this fear is “explained” in terms of restoration of democracy and that one would much rather be blind for the imperfections of the own national system than having to share even small parts of its democracy with other countries.

      • JoeSoap
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        Some of us are open-minded to trade with the world, not just our “nearest and (sometimes) dearest”. Why do you persist in thinking so locally? Why do you think the regulations of Brussels are so much better than those of Singapore or Canberra?
        Look beyond your rose-tinted spectacles and even beyond European shores! There’s a BIG WIDE WORLD out there!

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

          @JoeSoap: having worked and lived for eight years in Africa and Asia, learning Kiswahili and Bahasa Indonesia in preparation, having experienced first hand how the Dutch outperformed both the English and the Germans with their respect and adaptation to local culture and language, I would now claim that Eurozone citizens are every bit as open to the world as anybody. OK?
          More than that, I’ve learned a thing or two about interdependence and sharing sovereignty in my life.
          My argument would be that with all the new possibilities of the internet, there are even Dutch shopping websites which operate from Hongkong and China, ultimately the goods I order have to be transported to me. That is when I realise that physical proximity is important.

          • bluedog
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

            PvL boasts, ‘having experienced first hand how the Dutch outperformed both the English and the Germans with their respect and adaptation to local culture and language.’

            I suppose the Boers in South Africa with their policy of Apartheid would be the outstanding example of Dutch supremacy in this regard.

      • Timaction
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        “Shared democracy” What absolute nonsense you are talking Peter V EU. The EU is in no way democratic. It is all a façade with a pretend parliament that ratifies the Dictator Commissioners laws. That’s why we want out. We have more trade with the rest of the world than the dying behemoth of the heavily regulated and costly EU!
        You even write the language of dictators. How much are you costing English Taxpayers Peter?

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

          @Timaction: Maybe that unlike you, I have actually made some study of the EU. You still seem stuck in name-calling.

          • Timaction
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

            unlike you I actually made some study……….but I have Peter van EU. How do you think I can produce the facts and figures? I know my enemy. That’s why I KNOW it’s a dictatorship that costs us a fortune. We can argue all day about the competencies successive legacy parties have given away but it all adds up to WE WANT OUR DEMOCRACY BACK FROM EU DICTATORS!

      • Alexis
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        – Most of the British electorate are not old enough to remember any glorious past. It doesn’t inform their decision making, any more than it might inform yours, or that of your family.

        – The relevance of physical proximity to any particular country, or group of countries, has never been less important than today – either for trade or defence reasons.

        – interdependence – regarding what? Military? Trade? Environmental? Where expedient, countries can and do co-operate without needing to subsume themselves into a political union, under one flag

        -‘Shared sovereignty’ is a nonsense term which enticed countries into the EU into the first place. It is not possible to pool or share sovereignty; only to possess it, or give it up.

    • forthurst
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Europe is replete with glorious pasts; it is now in relative decline compared to those parts of the world which simply wish to trade with each other, which we would like to join, not to recreate our particular glorious past, but to avoid going down the pan with those who believe that political dogma is more important than sound economics.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: The Dutch “glorious past” is three or four centuries ago, long enough to leave no imprint in our subconscious. Europe’s relative “decline” is in proportion of world population. Its income per capita is among the highest and it trades openly with all parts of the world. Trying to revive the Common Wealth smacks of nostalgia and is not reciprocated by the others (Canada and Australia love to trade with the EU). Peace and stability is just as important as our e.g. Dutch and German sound economics. Why do you think that the USA implores the UK not to perform a Brexit?

        Reply Which country will invade which country in the EU if the UK leaves?

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted June 14, 2015 at 7:20 am | Permalink

          Reply to reply: You are right, you don’t have to stay to keep us from fighting eachother 🙂 Obama must have had other reasons.

          Obama said: “I would note that one of the great values of having the United Kingdom in the European Union is its leadership and strength on a whole host of global challenges. And so we very much are looking forward to the United Kingdom staying a part of the European Union because we think that its influence is positive not just for Europe but also for the world.”

          • Timaction
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            OBAMA has USA interests in wanting the UK to stay, so he has a legacy party UK puddle in the EU camp.

          • forthurst
            Posted June 14, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

            “Europe’s relative “decline” is in proportion of world population.”

            Whatever the reason, the world outside the EU is growing and therefore the trade potential is growing. However, the EU does not grow because its political agenda is more important to it than sound economics, hence we have the Euro wrecking the economies of Southern Europe and overregulation and savetheplanet™ green crap increasing the industrial cost base and driving high energy users far away to where the same amount of energy would be consumed, but more cheaply, more reliably. Meanwhile China’s Gross Domestic Product per Capita at Purchasing Power Parity has grown in twenty years from $1570 to $12,763. -wiki.

            Are the interests of the USA, or the EU aligned with ours? No, they are not. We have to decide what is best for us. Such statements as Obama’s would have more credibility, if he explained why being in the EU is also better for us. We know why the EU wants us in, so they can steal our money, steal our fish, hamstring our farmers, offload their surplus manpower to be mollycoddled by our taxpayers’ funded welfare system, and ultimately steal our inalienable right to our own soverereign state.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      You took the words right out of my laptop John.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      “the continent isn’t properly understood in Britain.”

      Well done Peter – you summed up every one of our issues (with the EU) in 7 words.

      The opposite is of course just as true – the continentals have never understood Britain either.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        @DaveM: At least I haven’t given up trying! 🙂

        • F.Cunctator
          Posted June 15, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Peter van Delusion. How right you are; I have never come across anyone quite so trying as you are.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Peter vL

      Sorry Peter you’re deluded. The EU isn’t flexible its desperate. It’s unelected leaders and promotors need to keep it together at all costs. As you aren’t a business person I guess you wouldn’t understand this. Negotiation is something that takes place from either a strong or principle base. The EU has neither.

      As to your other comments about the UK. It shows you how out of touch eurocrats and their apologists are. The EU is a vehicle of the post WW2 20th century. In the last 70 years free market innovation has brought MASSIVE change to the world. You’ve obviously never heard the term Global Village. Whilst there are some old school UKIPPYs on this board and a few ageing right wingers of the old type, the future is actually arriving at high speed . The future is open trade ANYWHERE with ANYONE we no longer need government in the way we once did.

      All we need for a happy and successful continental Europe is a free trade agreement and free movement of people ( without access to benefits, welfare etc etc). We can scrap the whole costly edifice of the EU, the laughable EU “parliament” , MEP’s and all the hangers on. Oh and the disastrous Euro can go to.

      The future is free Peter, your grand children and great grand children will thank the British as your grandfather did for rescuing you once again from attempted Euro Empires

      • acorn
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        Libby; tell me, at night-time, does someone lock your doors from the inside or the outside???

        • libertarian
          Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:48 pm | Permalink


          I don’t need locked doors fella. I’m just a businessman with very successful businesses that trade all over the world in a number of fields, while you’re just a cut past theorist who’s never actually done anything.

          You cut and paste theoretical economics without any understanding of how things happen in reality.

          How many people do you employ in your business acorn? How many countries do you trade with acorn? When you let me know the answer to those questions we can chat some more but until then I will continue to think of you as a small town college lecturer etc ed

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

        @libertarian: It seems that with all the name-calling I’m challenged to write my personal CV, which this blog is not meant for. But yes, I have worked in hard-nose business, including large amounts of negotiations, and I personally have played my part in creating this Global Village as early as from the nineteen eighties, when the term was hardly known. I’m absolutely thrilled by the huge changes (internet of things, bio-engineering etc.) still in store for us. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not as deluded as you assert. The future is free indeed libertarian. There are no Euro Empires ahead! Your obvious fear for that may possibly have more to do with your island past and the stories that you’ve been fed by your foreign owned media.

    • bigneil
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Cameron won’t be negotiating with anyone. He will give them any amount of money and sell this nation onto bankruptcy and oblivion – his aim ? – a seat in Brussels.
      28 countries ( and more want to join) will NEVER harmonise. Money is being took from some, and thrown at others. Stupid schemes waste billions. We are being told to build a house about every 6 minutes, just to cope with what we have – yet the EU want us to ALSO take the flood from across the MED??? – -yet in Spain whole towns were built, and left empty. Why not move the incomers there? Weather they are more used to, no need to concrete over the UK, no mass of extra infrastructure needed here to cope with them – the difference is that giving them a life in Spain won’t destroy Britain and the British – which the EU want.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        @bigneil: Remember 11 December 2011? 25 EU member states decided to create a fiscal compact which Cameron had tried to “veto”. All kinds of EU harmonisation is taking place voluntarily as we speak. With even higher population density than yours the Netherlands takes in as many migrants as you do. For getting migrants to move to empty towns in Spain, you would need a lot more EU, not less. There is absolutely no interest or gain in “destroying Britain”, but nobody can help the world changing. Rotterdam boasts having some 170 nationalities among its citizens. That is not the EU’s fault. That is society changing, the world getting ”smaller”.

    • lojolondon
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      It seems that Britain is not properly understood in the continent – say what you mean and mean what you say, stand by your commitments, everybody pull their weight, no freeloaders – nope, they don’t understand us at all!
      Keep talking about us being in the cold and alone etc, but we are the overwhelming losers in the EU – donating over £12 Billion each year, and unlike Germany, not profiting from the weakness of the slave states to aid our exports. The time to leave is right now, we will never look back.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        @lojolondon: ” say what you mean and mean what you say, stand by your commitments, everybody pull their weight, no freeloaders ” – you sound like the mayor of Rotterdam! How can you be the losers in the EU when your GDP is growing so nicely of late! It seems to me that in/since the time of Thatcher you have moved from goods to services, and you are champion exporters of services! With a huge service export surplus to the rest of the EU! And all that for a mere 1% of GDP (like everybody else). If you want to leave us (sob sob) it cannot be for economic reasons.

  5. Peter a
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Germany is weak because they will be the biggest losers if we exit.

    You are right John! Daniel Hannan was right the other day too. If you take British money out the other contributor countries will suffer. They WERE fwarful of this. Logic dictates a strong negotiating stance. An M&A negotiator or another experienced in business or industry would know that you play hard ball and both sides concede from positions of strength. I would be out of a job and my company bankrupt if I negotiated like CMD.

    Cameron has undermined his own negotiating position by saying he will stay in regardless. His softly softly approach is scorned by the unelected emperors of Europe. He should be playing hard ball with those Northern European leaders who understand what an EU without British largess with be like. The rest are just socialists and believe in the magic money tree, they care not for sound economics.

    Pull out. Slash corporation and business taxes. Become a tax and business haven. Support not attack creative tech and financial services (as the Irish Gov supports biomechanics and the Germans automobiles) . Stop the foreign aid junket and build coastal, naval vessels to protect our repatriated fisheries. Frack our way to a position where we can onshore industries just as the US has done. While we’re at it scrap completely the unfair; unequal subsidies to a Scotland living well on English taxes. Oil projections are down again. Fiscal autonomy: put up, or shut up.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      You’re right, but we have Mr Nice in charge, so it won’t happen.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Peter a

      Totally agree

    • Timaction
      Posted June 14, 2015 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree. Unfortunately we have Cameron in charge when we need Thatcher or Farage

  6. Alan
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    It might be that Germany is “weak” only in the sense that it prioritises the creation of a successful EU. However the UK is only a part member of the EU (in the sense that we are not in Schengen or the euro), and may be trying to separate itself even further. Just as Germany appears to be losing patience with Greece, so it could be that it will lose patience with the UK. In that case Mr Cameron may find it more difficult to get concessions from the EU than he apparently expects.

    The UK (and many other nations) seems to prioritise making itself richer. It would be interesting to see what subsequent generations make of Germany and the UK’s differing priorities, and which will be more successful in achieving their objectives.

  7. agricola
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I suspect that Germany, politics and people, are reacting to what they now know to have been the unbelievable evil that was Germany under Hitler, when almost everyone was a Nazi. I believe they are very reluctant to enforce their ideas on any other country even though they believe the ideas are good ones. Ideas and a philosophy that work in their own country. In contrast to the success of their own economy, they play the gentle giant in Europe, not wishing to impose on those who are not like themselves.

  8. Douglas Carter
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Perhaps she’s simply betting that path-of-least-resistance acquiescence in these cases will turn out to be financially less costly and less destabilising to the Eurozone than attending to them properly in the short term.

    Whether she’s sought the post or not is debatable, but Merkel finds herself in the position of defacto EU leader. When there’s a problem, it has become a commonplace feature that the collective of EU countries eventually turn to her Germany to press the ‘fix’ button. Greece, Mediterranean, French economic failure, Putin and Ukraine. USA retreating from the western stage AND leadership of both the EU and the Eurozone and that’s just the obvious tip of the iceberg. She doesn’t have the Political resources or reserves to go to the brink with each and every problem.

    There is also the fact you’ve reminded us of so very many times John, that Merkel has conceded already in plain attributable language, and well in the past, that outside the EU, the UK would be given an advantageous and stable facility for European trading links – the apocalypse scenarios set up by the Europhiles are just houses of straw, transient against an already established set of historic facts.

  9. bluedog
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    What’s the point of Germany, Dr JR?

    One could argue that since the re-unification of the five Eastern Lande with the Federal Republic after 1989, it’s been all downhill with a reunited Germany awkwardly dominating the EU. At the time both Thatcher and Mitterand had profound misgivings about the impact of a German behemoth, and if a united Germany is completely inhibited from using it’s power within the EU, the solution is obvious – repartition Germany in the interests of a more balanced EU.

    Your correspondent suggests that four German nation-states be created out of the current entity. Clustered around the great cities of Bremen and Hamburg one can envisage a north German state that would spread east into Mecklenburg. Further south and west, Cologne and Frankfurt are the rivals as the capital of a re-emergent Westphalia. Munich should remain the capital of an independent Bavaria, including Baden-Wurttemberg. In the East, German traditionalists would rejoice in the resurrection of Prussia with its capital of Berlin. Prussia would include its ancient rival of Saxony and its rebuilt capital of Dresden, but alas, not Silesia in this iteration. No, no, no, don’t even think about it.

    All four German states would of course be immediately welcomed into the EU.

    • formula57
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      “All four German states would of course be immediately welcomed into the EU – alongside Wales, Wessex, Mercia and Scotland perhaps?

      • bluedog
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        ‘– alongside Wales, Wessex, Mercia and Scotland perhaps?’

        Indeed. But democracy intervenes and the fragmentation of the UK is not yet a reality, and may never be. However one notes that the Bavarians are becoming separatist within the Federal Republic and it wouldn’t take much to re-invent Prussia, which was only abolished in 1947. It is possible to envisage the re-partition of Germany may become a condition of the survival of the entire EU. One can scarcely imagine that the French would object. Germanic client states have always been a staple of French diplomacy.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      “What’s the point of Germany, Dr JR?”

      I’d extend that sentence – what’s the point of Germany being in the EU?!!

      Surely if there’s any country that would be better off out, it’s Germany. They’ve got more leverage than anyone in Europe when it comes to dictating trade terms because they offer things that no one else can. It all comes down to the inherent German desire to form a Nation of Europe. Let’s not forget how young Germany is and how that area of Europe has gone from one attempted German-led Euro-empire to the next over the past millennium. They’ve never attempted any of this through negotiation though, it all has to be done via a German-devised plan which inevitably goes wrong when it meets opposition of any kind.

  10. David Cockburn
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    No doubt our financial contribution is a consideration but I suspect that what Britain really contributes to the EU, in German eyes, is global political legitimacy and relationships. In this view the EU is primarily a political project in addition to providing a large ‘home market’ for German manufacturers.

  11. Richard1
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Yes Germany has shown infinite patience and flexibility in the interests of the over-riding goal of keeping the EU show on the road. I dont think it would be that hard to get a Switzerland type arrangement, albeit remaining nominally ‘in’ the EU. This would mean continuing to pay the contributions- but perhaps that is worthwhile for a c. 80% national consensus on the issue for the next 1/2 century or so?

    • Mark B
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      It would be very hard to get a Swiss type arrangement. Neogitiations would take years and years. Better go for a simpler and quicker route. ie FLEXCIT.

      Issue an Art. 50 notice to quit the EU. Negotiate an exit where the UK still maintains access to the EEA. Trade will continue. Not perfect, but it removes our commitment to EVER CLOSER UNION.


      • Richard1
        Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        There is no mandate and no majority for that.

    • sjb
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      Member states are fed up with the Swiss arrangements (?120 separate agreements) because these have to be renegotiated each time the EU takes another step towards ever closer union, Richard.

      Do you think the ‘Out’ campaign will set out precisely what the alternative landscape would be if we left the EU? There seem to be a number of options: EFTA, EEA (e.g. Norway), Free Trade Agreement (e.g. Korea), Customs ‘union’ (e.g. Turkey), Bilateral sectoral agreements (e.g. Switzerland), and trading under WTO rules. I suppose they could offer all these as alternatives but that might risk confusing the undecided voter. Do you think they might just settle on one of these and, if so, which?

  12. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    There is usually always a point where flexibility is required to keep the peace. Radical things happen when one side won’t give way . It is how wars begin and after all the union was created in the wake of wars.I consider it to be strong to be able to say I will relax my principles somewhat for greater cohesion. Strength is not always being a brick wall, but rather knowing when to say I will bow a little for the greater good.This being my case though, there is a point when bowing becomes groveling.

  13. Stuart B
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Sometimes, ‘weakness’ is not weakness. Unless Germany’s actions are unintentional (and the country would have to be in a parlous state, reminiscent of Weimar, for that to be true), then it is surely more a case of divining their true intentions. I have no expertise in that area, but you imply that Germany is more interested in protecting its market position than in hoarding euros.
    Understanding the true intentions of those you wish to negotiate with is presumably a necessary condition for dealing without surrendering your own requirements. Of course, it always helps to have internal agreement on your own side as to what are your own true intentions. This, if anything, is what might be lacking (or embarrassingly revealed) in Mr Cameron’s current round of personal ‘negotiations’ around the EU member states. If it is known that, whatever the outcome of these talks, Mr Cameron will recommend staying within the political union, then he has of course thrown away any possibility of a fruitful deal.
    This could all be a sophisticated ploy, to lull the EU into offering so little that it is obvious we should remove ourselves from it. Perfidious Albion indeed! I think it more likely, though, that it is similar to the way the Scottish ‘independence’ referendum was completely spiked at the last moment, by the internal No-side coup that was the Offer. Mr Cameron might as well outsource his negotiations to a helpful bureaucrat from the EU itself. He could save himself the travel and simply await the e-mail to tell him what they have decided to award us by way of concessions.

  14. Ian wragg
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    What Germany wants Germany gets. Let’s drop this nonsense about a Union. It’s a Tuetonic stitch up for their benefit.
    If Angela is in a good mood Dave might get some crumbs and be sent on his way being told to keep on sending the cheques

  15. JJE
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Why is David Cameron so embarrassingly incompetent and amateurish might be a reasonable question to ask. At least Germany has respect. Cameron is met with indifference and hostility and makes things worse every time he opens his mouth.
    It seems he can’t cope with dealing with people who don’t have to take his orders. Our European friends might say that makes him a good representative of ours.

    • JoeSoap
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Probably we have to threaten to walk away to get anything half-decent here, and that isn’t in the nature of the beast. He’s a nice enough chap, reasonably intelligent, has a balanced work-life view in the way which is currently fashionable, but he is no Lord King (of BA fame) or Margaret Thatcher-people who just were single minded enough to get their way regardless. We really need some tough military types in this negotiation, not left-leaning folk who will just bend with the wind.

  16. Graham
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Pity we don’t have an experienced man at the helm to exploit the position. Wish washy Cameron will still lose the focus despite everything you say.

    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Why is Germany so weak in European negotiations? A difference in meaning, possibly, but this question is on a par with ” Why didn’t the dog bark ” and “Where is the smoking gun?” though with the latter I have a mind to change it to “Where WAS the smoking gun?”

    Given Germany’s history particularly in the last 100 years, it extraordinary if not downright bizarre that she should accept the highest level of immigration in Europe; agree to anything but the most austere economical procedures. I believe the meaning of “austerity” in German is not so much cutting wages or welfare but more to do with Order in the economy.

    My own feeling is Germany, since the end of the smoking guns in Europe in 1945, has been rather less free than people imagine to govern her own economy and political discourse.Like the UK… it is not a valid argument in Germany, to have but the minimum of immigration. If it is a question of a ” growing and successful economy ” as Mssrs Osborne and Cameron would have it then it would make more sense to build and own industries in the country of origin of potential immigrants where they can buy the products they make.
    Agrian countries like Romania and Bulgaria and we have their graduates plucking carrots in Norfolk and Dresden.

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Have you any idea what exactly Cameron is trying to renegotiate? It seems there are vague references to reducing benefits to EU migrants, talk about the UK not wanting ever closer union but very little else.
    As for Germany’s stance, they have shown repeatedly that they will do anything in order to preserve the EU ‘project’. Ever closer union is a prerequisite for its success. That is why all existing and future member countries (I think there are 6 waiting to join), other than Denmark and UK, have to adopt the euro. If Cameron succeeds in persuading the British people to remain in and thereby be governed by the EU the next step will be adoption of the euro in UK.
    Call this fatuous if you must but there is an inescapable logic that a country such as the UK would not want to be excluded from the decision making of the overwhelming majority in the eurozone and the Germans would be delighted to have us share even more of the costs and liabilities of this organisation.

  19. formula57
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Indeed so. History indicates that the EU responds to threats with all manner of concessions and compromises, although typically nothing that would do more than delay rather than force deviation from its preferred ends. (The most significant concession to the UK in recent times of course has been the Euro currency opt out – although it must be doubted Eurocrats et al expect the UK to retain Sterling for ever.)

    So whilst we might recall with satisfaction Finance Minister Schäuble saying in a “Financial Times” interview that “It is not just Germany that should reach out to the UK. The UK is vital to the EU and all its institutions and member states should listen to what London has to say” let us be wary that those parties have the UK’s intended futue mapped out whatever concessions are won by Mr. Cameron et al pro tem.

  20. Mark B
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Everyone knows (except CMD) that you start your bargaining position demanding the next to impossible. Over time you change your stance as your opposite changes theirs. Eventually, you come to an agreement.

    If our kind host and others thinks that we can renegotiate new terms and remain in the EU, then they are very misguided.

    You are either in, or out !

  21. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    S&P and SNP both in the “in”-camp! 🙂
    Minor but significant entities, which the UK wishes to take seriously, be it for different reasons. Let’s hope that Germany and the rest of the EU will prove supremely “weak” and that a beautiful deal that no Briton can resist is on the horizon. 🙂

    • JJE
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      S&P we can just shrug and ignore. They know nothing that the markets don’t already know. And in any case it is daft for them to imply that the UK government outside the EU with control of it’s own currency would be less able to repay it’s debt.

      The SNP could become a more interesting issue I think.

      But I fear the negotiations are being incompetently handled. As with Grexit, so with Brexit. There are major differences and issues of trust that will need expert handling to resolve, but they are being managed incompetently.

      There are real issues that affect many nations – as others have pointed out having Romanian and Bulgarian graduates with professional qualifications picking carrots in fields or Amazon orders in warehouses is an issue for those countries as well as for us.

      My impression is that there is no desire to help Cameron out. He dug this hole for himself to stay in power and paper over the deep fault lines within his own party. And with any meaningful change requiring unanimous agreement and in some countries referendums the system is so deadlocked that it may be impossible to change even with goodwill and the desire on all sides. The EU is threatened because it has become unable to adapt. It is stuck, unable to move forwards or back.
      I think in the UK it will come down to a matter of principle. Any crumbs tossed our way will be token ones. Do we want to stay in with our eyes open and re-engage fully or do we quit.

  22. acorn
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    As pompous, arrogant politicians go JR, you are premier league today. Has somebody upset you?

    As far as I can gather, the next big move for the EU is to get its own federal type tax base. To do that it is going to have to have its own Treasury. Probably for the Eurosystem first; getting all 28 States,unlikely. The most unlikely and the biggest pain in the arse for such a move will be the UK. The loss of the UK subscription to the club, will be a small sacrifice for a much bigger goal.

    You will be aware that the first to bust the 3% deficit limit were Germany and France. There has never been a macroeconomic model that came up with 3%, it was / is, a guess, and an utterly pointless constraint for a fiat floating currency of any make. The 60% debt limit likewise, has no macroeconomic foundation whatsoever. The Euro exchange rate, kept low by club-med, is perfect for German exporters.

    The ECB balance sheet is at about 2,400 billion Euro, back in 2012 is was 3,000 billion when the ECB was backstopping its client banks. The ECB can expand its balance sheet to any value it wants. The ECB could pay this months Greek debt payments out of its petty cash box. It will eventually get all the Euro it has ever issued back via taxes and interest; and, it can wait till the end of time for that to happen, because it will cost it nothing; it is fiat money.

    • libertarian
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink


      Why do you persist in posting meaningless drivel? Having first castigated our host as pompous you then go on in your normal way to show us pomposity in action.

      All the stuff you posted may sound clever to you but its not. One thing you’ll learn when you grow up is that there isn’t a fixed way of doing anything, the beauty of free markets is they evolve with changing circumstances.

      Your last paragraph made me laugh out loud. If you even remotely thought about the REALITY of that you would see why you are treated with contempt

  23. Boudicca
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Personally I hope Mrs Merkel/Germany remain inflexible. I don’t want slightly looser EU chains; I want free of them.

    • DaveM
      Posted June 13, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Quite – rigid chains are easier to break.

  24. JoeSoap
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    So you have a flexible Germany, a weak France and a non-existent Italy to negotiate with. Thatcher would, I think, have thought her boat had just sailed in, and be pushing for the best of both worlds. Instead, you have a leader who will go with the flow, whatever that is. As we all think, a couple of t’s crossed and commas added and call it a result.

  25. Sean
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    We are foolish to think Germany is weak. Germany is the leading nation in the EU Hello Hole, she will rule over the EU. I foresee Berlin becoming the Capital of Europe once the EU becomes a fully functional federal country. Mark my words

  26. Bert Young
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Germany is weak because of its past history of imposing its will on other countries in Europe . This reality has meant that it has bent over backwards , turned its head on regulations and failed in its efforts to maintain equality . Of course some of its decisions have maintained a healthy economic state for itself by staying within the Euro – were it not for this , German products would face tough times in the markets where it trades .

    Germany is the first to realise that , without the contribution we make , it is going to have to cough up more . Germans are already fed up with the load they carry and will do their utmost to keep us in . There is much “will ” in Germany over this matter ; no doubt the “way” will follow .

  27. John B
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Germany need not act tough when it is net beneficiary of the euro and EU.

    Germany (and France) saddled themselves with a regulatory burden in the business and labour market which made them uncompetitive with the likes of ‘sweat-shop’ Britain (tm Jacques Delors) and poorer developing Southern Europe Countries.

    Thanks to the EU ‘homologenisation’ , that regulation process in which Cast-Iron Dave thinks it is essential for Britain to take apart, has shackled everyone else with the same drag-anchors thus effectively eliminating competition because they, Germany (and France), have had longer to adapt and price in the costs.

    The euro aka the Deutschmark, is undervalued for Germany and overvalued for nearly everyone else in the eurozone giving Germany a competitive advantage.

    It is therefore easy for Germany to appear at first reticent then give concessions when these cost her nothing and she gains by keeping the show on the road.

    The EU and euro was, is, and will be the means of Franco-German Government of Europe by means other than warfare… tried and failed… and the Franco bit is not so assured these days so the prospect of (a German led EU ed)albeit peacefully achieved is not far off.

    Of course Germany wants to keep Britain inside the tent rather than being outside ‘raining’ in on their parade: that will be worth something to the Germans.

    That the majority of the British political claque cannot see this is perhaps no surprise given the calibre of those in it.

  28. Kenneth
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Why is Germany so weak in European negotiations?

    I’ll take a stab at this. If Germany was a person under the psychiatrist’s chair, this could be the conservation…

    P: What is troubling you?

    G: I want to please everyone but I end up pleasing no-one

    P: Sometimes it’s best to ‘look after no.1’

    G: No. That caused a whole lot of trouble a long time ago

    P: Yes, I know all about that. But you’ve changed now

    G: Have I? Who knows? I don’t want to go there. I would rather compromise

    P: But you will end up getting more frustrated

    G: Yes, I am already. Because of what happened I joined a club, in fact I joined many clubs, so that I could be more of a team player. The trouble is that I have lots of money and my friends keep asking me to share it with them. I am doing this, but the more I give the more they want. I’m worried that I’ll end up being as poor as them

    P: You won’t be much of a friend if you just keep throwing good money after bad

    G: Exactly. I have told them that they should work hard like I do and will do all I can to help them do this.

    P: But hang on, doesn’t this bring you back to your old trouble. Asking others to change their whole culture so it matches yours is surely going too far. You had trouble before accepting that others were different. Why don’t you live and let live. You can be friends of course, but surely you must accept that you are all different. Just tell them you won’t give out any more money but you wish them the best of luck and you want to remain as best friends.

    G: You don’t understand the rules of the club. That will be the end of the club and I may lose my friends. I may then be back in the dark place that I tried so hard to get away from.

    P: Have you thought that perhaps it is the club that is the problem. It seems designed to put you in an impossible situation

    G: No, the club is everything

    P: Is it? Why can’t you start a new club, or encourage your friends to do so? Perhaps with less rules and regulations? Or perhaps just make individual friendships with the members and forget having a club at all?

    G: But the whole point of the club was to keep me in check and stop the old animosities from resurfacing.

    P: But it’s not working. These animosities are getting worse. Your friends are no better off despite the money you are providing. I would suggest that they will do fine if they can go back to doing things the way they want to and you do things your way. You need to learn how to be a good friend without expecting others and yourself to compromise your principles and way of life. You are different people with different approaches. Expecting everyone to be the same will lead to untold misery.

    G: You’re right. That’s exactly what is happening.

    P: You are shackled by your miserable past and your friends are also feeling the pain

    G: But if I want to change things I will have a problem.

    P: Problem?

    G: Yes, France is the problem. She always sides with our poorer friends and she is a big influence. She will not look kindly upon me making a stand. On the other hand I have a few other friends who may be more sympathetic to my point of view and they are big players too

    P: It sounds like you have some frank talking to do. It also sounds like your club is the problem and not necessarily the individual members of it

  29. Atlas
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I’m not so sure Germany is weak. Just consider the way they get together with France and stitch-up the rest of the EU. The French and the Germans have got an Empire now that was only in the dreams of some of their political predecessors. Just look at the way the low-lands of Holland agree with EU diktats as an example of how the rest are cowed into submission.

  30. Matt
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    In 2001 we signed the Nice treaty which commits us to “ever closer union”.
    Any talk of a 2 tier Europe is clearly bogus bogus whilst that commitment is law.

    The pro-EU case is a con.
    The plan is to get the UK people to vote to stay in the EU thinking that they won’t get sucked into a single European state when in fact they almost certainly will.

  31. ferdinand
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I fear some Germans still have a slight guilt complex plus they are usually very polite and not easily forthcoming, least the ones I worked with were like that.

  32. Rods
    Posted June 13, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it will be that difficult for Dave to get 27 EU countries to let us decide on how curved our bananas and maybe even our cucumbers are, so regardless of size and shape they don’t break EU regulations and our shops can sell them.

    This is providing, of course, that Dave’s ‘in-depth’ renegotiations are this ambitious?

  33. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 16, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Helmut Kohl deliberately conceived the Euro as a flawed currency, knowing full well that common fiscal control would eventually be needed to make it work, and he was Angela Merkel’s mentor. The 3% of GDP rule was a necessary interim measure.

    Angela Merkel has been discovering that there is a lot of resistance to common fiscal control. Ireland doesn’t accept the idea of a minimum rate of Corporation Tax, France believes that its control of its own fiscal policy is ‘sacred’, Spain said that it would do its own deficit reduction without reference to the dreaded Troika, and there is also resistance from Portugal and Italy. As for Greece ……………

    Greece and Italy have had changes of government, and the French and Spanish electorates would change their governments given half the chance.

    Meanwhile, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats are in coalition with the pro-EU Social Democrats but the anti-Federalist opposition party, which polled just below the 5% in the last general election, is now polling well above 5%.

    Angela Merkel probably still wants EU fiscal control but can’t see how to get it. This gives the UK an opportunity to wreck the Euro project by encouraging a Grexit and other exits. It has been our foreign policy for centuries not to allow one continental power to become too dominant.

    By the way, Iceland has withdrawn its EU application because of the perceived interference in its financial autonomy.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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