Mr Juncker wants our pity as well as our money

Mr Juncker’s 29th June press conference is already infamous for his parting jibe that the Greeks should not commit suicide because they are afraid of death. There is a serious problem of suicide levels in Greece thanks to the economic misery the Euro and its policies have created. This made the remark crass. Talking of mortality as a simile for the Euro and its policies also showed a curious lack of judgement.

As remarkable was the way Mr Junker decided to talk about the crisis as being about him. He explained how personally saddened and aggrieved he felt by the events of last Saturday. He felt betrayed by the failure of the Greeks to respond to all his personal efforts to bring about a deal. (Je suis profondement afflige, attriste, par le spectacle qu’a donne L’Europe samedi dernier…..apres tous les efforts que j’ai deployes…je me sens un peu trahi parce qu’on prend insuffisament en compte mes efforts personnels…). Highly paid officials do not usually vent their feelings in public about complex negotiations they have to conduct on behalf of their organsations. Mr Junker is paid around £300,000 a year in salary, expenses and benefits to be a professional. Most people could put up with a few difficult meetings for such a large public reward from taxpayers.

In the wider scheme of things Mr Junker’s feelings are of little significance. They do, however, reveal the growing gap between the lives and views of the EU ruling class and many of the voters and taxpayers who have to pay their salaries and live under their unsuccessful policies. The suicide comment is Mr Junker’s “let them eat cake” moment. It could prove to be almost as memorable as its predecessor should Greece dig in and be forced out of the Euro by its lack of cash, the intransigence of the rest of Euroland and its own high spending and borrowing inclinations. Mr Juncker’s personal quest for recognition and for our sympathy for his hard and so far fruitless work to find a compromise or agreement is more a sign of incompetence than proof of a worthy and trusted official who has been treated badly.

Perhaps Mr Juncker should now apologise to the Greek people for his remarks. His closing words in his press conference were a direct appeal to the Greek voters in their forthcoming referendum. He tells them to vote Yes whatever the question. As far as he is concerned he says the real question that the referendum decides is whether Greece stays in the Eurozone. The Greek government say the question is the one they put on the ballot paper, which is about whether to accept the last offer from the rest of the Euro area or not. His speech implies he thinks the question is whether the Greek people come to recognise the talent and hard work of their EU President of the Commission, and whether they give him carte blanche to override their government and sentence them to a few more years of Euro austerity.

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120 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is amazing how some people at the EU can become some out of touch only mixing with people of a similar group think mind set. But then we had Major and his predictable group think ERM disaster. “It is is not hurting it is not working” – homes, lives and jobs destroyed and lots of suicides then too.

    On a (largish) train from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells about 10 people in total on it – three seem to be cleaning and other staff plus the driver.

    • Hope
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:24 am | Permalink

      Greece should vote a resounding NO.

      Junker’s remarks were absolutely disgusting. People have died because of his fanaticism over a pointless political ideology to create a superstate causing destitution, homelessness, unemployment, mass exodus of the country and suicide because of the decisions imposed by the Euro for the EU project. He, and the likes of him, who are paid vast sums of our taxes, £300,000 plus expenses, cars and the rest of the trappings while ordinary people suffer needlessly for his pointless dream.

      Osborne needs to be held to account for his reported despicable remarks and scare tactics as well. We need to know what the govt is trying to influence inside the IMF with our money. It is our taxes. The UK has a greater deficit than Greece and Osborne was not aware when asked. Perhaps he could be reminded the deficit is around £90 billion when he claimed to have cleared by now! The debt is now £1.5 trillion. So before he makes insidious remarks he needs to look in the mirror start working a full week at the Treasury and get the UK books in order. Putting the UK economy ahead of soirée on the U.S. President’s plane to watch a basketball match! One start would be to cut the £14 billion EU club fee for nothing in return, or the £12 billion overseas aid bill, billions wasted on consultants and fat cat salaries and Lear jets for Ugandan presidents.

      We also have the coalition partner of Germany making equally undemocratic remarks that the plebiscite should be killed before any new talks. These people treat the public with contempt and disdain forgetting they are meant to be in office to work for and represent the people. Ditto for Cameron and Osborne. Time the EU fanatics at home are taken to task by MPs and everyone else. Starting with Cameron made to explain what he is renegotiating. No more weasel words, deceit or false promises, the truth.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        My guess is that the Greeks will capitulate. Greece is not just the small and weak country that it has always been but now a country with a bankrupt government, and there as is no way that they can withstand the might of Germany unconditional surrender might seem the best option.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

          The will be less bankrupt once that have written of the debt, they have a small primary surplus before interest on the debt.

    • Sir Graphus
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      The ERM fiasco was the best thing that ever happened to the UK. We dallied with pegging our exchange rate for about a year and saw what damage that could do.

      After that, there’s no way we’d join, even though Blair tried his hardest.

      Shame Greece et al weren’t watching.

      • Frankfurt13
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        George Soros should be given an honorary knighthood. He saved the UK from the Euro… indirectly.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        A shame half the Tory party (the Ken Clarke/Major/Cameron/BBC think wing) learned so little from the hugely damaging experiment. An experiment that went so predictably wrong. Even now no apology from the guilty men and women.

        Similar group think nonsense now on the climate change exaggeration too. How many more years of no global warming are needed to wake them up? Doubtless when they finally do they will just falsely claim that they helped solved the (largely non existent) problem.

    • Anonymous
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic – was…”On a (largish) train from Charing Cross to Tunbridge Wells about 10 people in total on it – three seem to be cleaning and other staff plus the driver.”

      Ah. But it did have at least one VIP on it, Lifelogic.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the driver I assume you mean. True the ones coming in to London were fairly full, but on balance (with in and outgoing trains) perhaps only 40% average occupancy even during London rush hours.

  2. Martin
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    So who is preparing a do nothing fudge to block £147 Billion of growth and 70000 jobs?

    The EU or the Conservative UK government?

    I expect the Conservative spin machine will be talking about anything but Heathrow today!

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

      I think you meant to include Gatwick in your post. Other airports are available. In Hillingdon we want neither an expanded Heathrow nor HS2

      • Lifelogic
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        We need a runway at both airport and an HS shuttle link – thus giving a five runway Heathwick hub airport.

        Doubtless they with still dither over it for 10 years or more.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted July 2, 2015 at 8:24 am | Permalink

          We really don’t.

          That would be government paying people to fill holes

    • ChrisS
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      Expanding Heathrow would be like squashing a quart into a pint pot. The area is already so overcrowded and traffic is a nightmare – ask anyone who regularly has to drive round the M25 to get to the channel ports, for example.

      This decision has to be about more than just economics. Forget the platitudes about noise and pollution, the effect on millions who live in the area would be appalling.

      Gatwick would be a far better option from a practical point of view and is a lot closer to the capital than many other major European airports. All it needs is a better rail link and a better motorway linking it to areas North of London.

      A second runways there will surely give more capacity than a third at Heathrow as it will enable more efficient use to be made of the first runway.

      Gatwick would need some change to accommodate more long haul flights but some European flights could be relocated to Southampton which is under-utilised and only an hour by train from Waterloo with the added bonus that the station is right next to the terminal.

      • stred
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Chris S. Agree totally about Heathrow traffic. It is also a horrible journey lugging suitcases on the tube. Last time we nearly missed the flight after delays. Parking and pickup is already a nightmare.

        The £20m report says that air quality will be made a legal condition to comply with EU rules. Sir Howard said on the news this morning that this could be achieved by making the area around a pollution limit area, like the one coming for central London. We will have to use electric cars instead. Most of the traffic is on the M25, which will have to be put in a tunnel, with the runway over, while the M4 runs alongside. They must be expecting normal cars to be banned by the time it is built. One of the commissars is a green energy expert. How can 5 experts manage to spend £20m on a report, and how much per hour have they been paid?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 2, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink

          “One of the commissars is a green energy expert”

          Any green energy expert (or indeed any decent engineer or physicist ) would advises the green energy is largely an expensive uncompetitive and intermittent nonsense. Other than in very special cases.

          I assume therefore that a “green energy expert” is someone who just knows his way round the bonkers tax payer funded grants system that keeps the show on the road, knows the powerful contacts in government required and knows his way round the legal and regulatory regime of this largely nonsensical & artificial industry.

    • libertarian
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Martin

      Stop talking nonsense 70,000 jobs…. ha ha don’t make me laugh

  3. agricola
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I like your “Let them eat cake” comment but look forward to Junker’s “Et tu Brute” follow up moment

  4. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    One point which appears to be missed in the Greek scenario is that whatever the outcome, a political force/party/group must for social safety sake have the following of a sizable number of the populace and a goodly part of that must be composed of the financially insecure.

    Mr Juncker’s spirit is broken, hence his inappropriate verbal behaviour. But his personal failure does not matter in the larger scheme of things. If the Greeks through what some regard as threats by the EU ditch the left-wing alliance Syriza and the smaller right-wing The Independent Greeks and vote Yes then just who and what will be their leader? Political vacuums are notoriously dangerous. An utterly defeated people, in their own eyes, will seek somehow to regain their honour. And they may feel affable talking and negotiations pointless.
    Obviously for Mr Juncker to urge any country’s voters to vote Yes except perhaps those of Luxemburg is as wrong as a kangaroo with an inside pocket. Also beyond satire as from get-go he said the very idea of a referendum was invalid. Curiously his back-to-front-inside-out logic sounds much like the British Labour Party’s new view on the UK’s referendum. My guess is they exchange secret love-notes.

    • Horatio McSherry
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Indeed, and what happens if the Greeks vote to accept the deal, Tsipras is forced to dissolve the government, and the Greek people vote in another anti-austerity government? Do we just keep going round in circles?

      Handy for Dave though, if they do.

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    The offer on the ballot paper has expired and doesn’t exist anymore. Thus, the referendum can better be seen as a broad choice for or against its cooperation within the eurozone.
    The press conference mentioned made clear that the previous offer was grossly misrepresented in Greece (no income cuts, no pension cuts, higher taxes for large ship builders etc.) The Dutch public apparently trusts that the euro will easily cope with a (temporary) exit by Greece. Taking a jibe at well paid public servants (MPs, MEPs, presidents) is cheap.

    Reply So you think Mr Juncker made the right remarks to help the crisis and get the Greeks to vote the way he wants?

    • Hope
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Total drivel PVL. Eau fanaticism is dangerous. The people have a right to self determination. To dictatorship by unelected bureaucrats who wish to impose their will on millions of people for self indulgent greed and ideology. Countries should be left sovereign and independent working in friendship with each other for trade. Creating an EU superstate has no sensible purpose and is not worth the severe suffering it has caused and is causing to millions of people around the continent of Europe. It should be stopped by each and every nation.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:54 am | Permalink

        @Hope: interesting then that the democratically elected Greek government wants to stay part of
        1) the EU 2) the eurozone.
        Are they undemocratic for wanting something different from you?

        • libertarian
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          Peter vL

          The democratically elected Greek government has democratically decided to hold a democratic referendum. Will you and your EUpolitburo chums abide by that if they vote no?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: But of course!
            If only we knew what abiding means? That they will leave the euro? What does it mean if the Greeks say “no” to a proposal that has expired and doesn’t exist? Do the Greeks know? Or should they listen to Mr libertarian’s interpretation?
            It is no surprise that the Council of Europe (47 countries, 800 million people) has warned that this “referendum”doesn’t meet international standards:
            Thorbjorn Jagland, who is secretary general of the Council of Europe, said the referendum had been called too quickly, with insufficient time for debate that would assist voters in making up their minds, and that the question being posed was unclear.

            Could it be that referendums are a convenient tool in the hands of hands of dictators and demagogues, as your Mrs Thatcher once remembered?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian: slight correction – it will be for the Greek government to “abide” by the outcome of the Greek referendum. The eurogroup will “take into account” the outcome of the referendum. After all there are 19 countries with 19 parliaments involved, not just Greece.
            Maybe this brief statement by Dijsselbloem gives you more clarity?
            http://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/video/president-of-the-eurogroup-dijsselbloem-statement-on-greece

          • libertarian
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

            Peter vL

            Thanks for that, your long winded bluster amounts to NO the EU will make up the outcome of the result they want. Cheers for clarifying

        • Richard
          Posted July 2, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

          Although the current Greek government would be quite happy if Greece were to exit the Eurozone it would not want to appear responsible for the exit.

          So the Greek government either wants the EU to continue to bail out Greece or to force it out of the Euro.

    • JJE
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      The Euro zone could have easily coped with a generous offer to Greece that would have settled this issue long ago before Syriza was ever heard of.
      But they prefer to stick to their principles rather than show some pragmatism and generosity of spirit.
      This affair will end up costing the Dutch public more dearly than they imagine.

      Juncker is understandably very tired and emotional given his recent impossible workload. I find it easier to forgive him than I do the intransigence of the creditors. He pushed extremely hard for a deal and understands what a disaster he now has to deal with.

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:23 am | Permalink

        JJE

        The fault is to lend money to people who have little chance to pay it back in the first place.

        If you let one let get away with a partial default, cancellation or extended terms, then the others who have borrowed will want the same terms, and who could blame them.

        As usual the major fault is with the politicians. who have failed the people by promising what they cannot deliver, for failure to collect taxes due, and failing to run a balanced economy.

        The people are also at fault for believing the politicians lies, deception and bribery with their own, and other peoples money.

        • JJE
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          But if you lend money to people who cannot repay it, eventually you have to accept that it will not be repaid. There is a reason that different interest rates are applied to different loans to reflect the risks involved.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted July 2, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

            As Mr Redwood indicated in his speech on the Scottish bill published today, in a currency union there needs to be common welfare, tax and money transfer policies. Without these the lenders were taking a huge punt. Time to take the hit which is similar to money transfer. Unfortunately afterwards Greece will still not have common welfare policies nor will the tax system be fit for purpose so they will need further transfers.

            Ergo the common currency is a dead dog. The sooner this is accepted the less money it will cost and the quicker the pain of correction worldwide will be over.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        @JJE: I have heard Dijsselbloem (eurogroup) declare several times that the euro has to show that it has to be taken seriously. Not being (able to be) lenient to Greek demands is related to that.

        • JJE
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          Well at least we get to see how the people we are being asked to share our sovereignty with behave in times of stress.
          Adversity tends to brings out our true nature.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

            @JJE: Dijsselbloem happens to have an awful lot of integrity and commands much respect in our country, but you wouldn’t know . . .
            The true euro’s nature will have to be that it is reliable. Which may require being strict to those who refuse to abide by its rules. Financial markets appear to appreciate that. You certainly have the right of a totally differnt opinion.

          • Narrow Shoulders
            Posted July 2, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

            @PVL

            Adhere to the Euro rules……

            No one does that, another reason for UK not to enter we would gold plate the regulations and hamstring ourselves when none other bother.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen,

      Was it a “previous offer” or would “previous set of demands” be a better description?

      ………………..
      True the list contains some sensible demands like reducing the size of military expenditure . I doubt that would be a sticking point as far as Syriza are concerned.

      I don’t think we need to go past item1 to know the absurdity of what the troika are asking for. The requirement that Greek runs a budget surplus of 3.5% in 2018 makes no economic sense whatsoever. It is a highly deflationary measure which will only serve to deepen the catastrophe of economic depression there.

      It is not only absurd. It is economically impossible. Experience tells anyone with any intelligence that a depressed economy returns less taxation revenue to government than a healthy economy. So, to get the revenue the geniuses (not) from the Troika will then insist on increased levels of taxation which will further depress a depressed economy.

      It’s sheer madness!

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: Juncker is a human being, quite fallible. As only one third of the former troika (now “the institutions”) I think he has tried to go the extra mile once or twice and culturally different from the British he also tries to be amicable (if you ever were to meet him, don’t be surprised if he gives you a kiss or slaps you gently on the cheek 🙂 ). So I’m not surprised he genuinely feels double crossed or betrayed.
      The decisions will be made at the intergovernmental level (eurogroup with Dijsselbloem, at higher political level the eurozone with Tusk, Merkel, etc.) and not by Juncker.
      Most people have said that Juncker shouldn’t have given a voting advice the way he did (interference, plus it may work counterproductive) but as a encapsulation of what the vote will signify, I don’t think that he is wrong. A “no” vote would be a vote against the current cooperation within the eurozone. I cannot see the other 18 countries prepared to help out without drastic reform in Greece. It seems the current government is pro-euro but anti eurozone. That will be difficult to explain to the other 18 countries with their own parliaments.

      • alan jutson
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Peter

        Perhaps only friendly if he gets his own way !!!

        Never met him, but there are plenty around, and I have met many like that over the years, its usually their biggest character fault, and often shows absolute arrogance of anyone else’s position or point of view.

        Easy to hold those views if you are on a large salary, a huge pension and expenses package, and have no fear of being sacked as you are in a non competitive environment.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      Have you ever known Peter van Leeuwen express the slightest criticism of the EU and/or its leaders? He has bought ‘the project’ hook line and sinker.

    • Graham
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      ‘Jibe at well paid public servants ‘ (others may call them something else)

      Does that include you PvL by any chance etc ed

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        @Graham: never been a public servant and now just a poor pensioner myself 🙂

        • libertarian
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          PvL

          As a suggestion Peter, as a poor pensioner you need to exit the EU and go live somewhere far more conducive. I feel for you having to cope in a country, regime and economy that is moribund, out of control and heading for a massive fall.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

            Dutch people are among the happiest on the planet, ranking no 7 as a country (Britain not to be found among the first 20 I see on internet). But thanks anyway for your concern and compassion for me 🙂

          • libertarian
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

            I didn’t ask about happiness ………………. I was advising you on how NOT to be poor.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      The EU President and its Commissioner’s act and behave the way they do as all Dictators do. They follow the example of North Korea!

      I see we still haven’t had anything reported on your leaders demands of the EU and no treaty agreement for our forthcoming referendum? UKIP have said and predicted this………..fo years! The Chamberlain moment delayed!

    • lojolondon
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      For those of us who hate the tyranny and dictatorship of the Fourth Reich and want freedom for our democracy to flourish, there is no downside. If the Greeks stay, the EU will drive their economy ever downwards for another three months until the charade is repeated once again. If the Greeks vote out then the EU cracks will be showing, and in 5 years Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland will be eyeing the economic miracle of the Drachma and wanting to follow suit – both good outcomes for EU realists.
      Let us not forget that the Greeks have defaulted on sovereign debt FIVE times in the last 200 years, it is going to happen again, the only question is when, and the lesson is to ignore the doomsayers – this is survivable and a natural consequence of the way they run their economy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Defaulting on debts is one thing, but leaving the eurozone is another very different thing, and leaving the EU is another thing altogether – whatever threats eurofederalist bullies like Juncker may make to try to intimidate the Greeks into voting the way he wants.

      • acorn
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

        10 out of 10 lojolondon. You say the only question is when, I say it is now. Greece has a unique opportunity, at this time, to do the whole of the this EU mess, a very big favour.

        I am not a religious person, but even I am praying that the Greeks vote to stick it up the EU, where the sun don’t shine. I am sure that the history books will record that the EU single currency experiment, was the biggest economic disaster in the modern world.

        • libertarian
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

          Acorn

          Whilst I agree with you on this and I hope you get your wish sadly I think the Greeks will be bullied into voting yes. I think lojolondon has it about right

  6. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I loved the carte blanche bit in the Telegraph! I did not know you were that witty!

    While the meeja have been distracted by the “Greek Tragedy”, Mr Juncker and his chums have produced the Five President’s thoughts alongside the Spinelli document. Although the Spinelli document is a very long read, the preamble is short – just 20 unbelievable pages long.
    In it, we are told that the Eurozone is going to turn into one Federal Democratic Republic (not in those words!) and that countries will be reduced to “States”. The parliament will be run on strictly federal lines like the Commission. Tax will be decided centrally. The army will obey the central government, as will the police, and the law will be made there too, then presented to the parliament. Tax moneys will be moved around the Federation by the central government.
    Those countries which have not yet adopted the Euro are called “pre Euro”.
    Meanwhile the EFTA countries including Switzerland and Britain will be offered Associated Membership, although what that means exactly is not really discussed fully. Turkey, too, may be offered Associate Membership.

    This has simply not been mentioned anywhere other than the EUReferendum blog as far as I can see. The “Greek Tragedy” has been what the world has been watching instead.

    • Hope
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      The works had been letting it happen. Obama even commented that the people could not take anymore. So what has he done to influence the IMF. Why not write off the debt? Why let the IMF break all the rules to save the Eau project and Euro?

      • graham wood
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Hope: “Why not write off the debt?”

        Indeed, why not? Let Greece return to the Drachma in spite of the severe pain for a limited period of time. That way real hope can be fostered and sustained.
        We should remember that the ‘fault’ is not all on the Greek side. Firstly it was the EU itself which allowed Greece to enter the Euro in the first place under false pretences which they surely knew, but did nothing about.
        Secondly, the EU disobeys its own rules in giving bail-outs to Greece, let alone on the scale that it has.
        Thirdly, where is the wonderful mutual support and brotherhood of the Eurozone members and the EU Commission which in theory they all stand for?
        It is at this final crisis in the Greek ‘problem’ which should move the Eurozone members to let Greece go, write off its debt, and encourage Greece to make a fresh start from scratch. But no, the political project called the “euro” is far more important than the sufferings of ordinary people.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      “I loved the carte blanche bit in the Telegraph! I did not know you were that witty!”

      Talk about damning with faint praise; nowadays, humour can frequently be misconstrued as thoughcrime followed inevitably by diminished career prospects, as those who read the papers will doubtless be aware, so I think JR wields his undoubted wit with circumspection.

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Sadly I think, the vote will goto Yes, hurry up and pay us the money. Never mind the debt loading that will never be paid back.

    Once the money gets short and the supplies necessary to live dry up or become difficult to get its obvious that cave in comes next. The VI’s will all be Yes of course, so its a threat to life that ultimately clinches it.

    Juncker and too many of them …..terrible people!

    • bigneil
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      And when the cave-in comes . . .they are all entitled to come here and register for a NI number. It has worked for thousands of East Europeans, even allowing them to have their homes, back in their country, renovated on the English benefits system, ( IDS must be SO proud ) from no contribution whatsoever. Why not the Greeks as well? Why not every country on the planet? and in the future, with space travel, will we be housing and paying for the beings from Galtrass 4/5/6 and 7. (other planets full of alien freeloaders are available ).

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    There’s obviously little scope for the voters of any nation to freely express their opinion in any referendum related to the EU when you have people like Juncker setting out to instruct them how to vote and making thinly veiled threats about what will happen to them if they have the temerity to vote the wrong way:

    https://euobserver.com/economic/129363

    “You must vote Yes, independently of the question asked”,

    and

    “No would mean that Greece is saying No to Europe”.

    But we’ve seen this before, for example when it was suggested that the Irish should be “booted out” of the EU because they had voted against the Treaty of Lisbon.

    How dare they defy the will of the eurocrats? And I don’t think the Greeks will.

    • Douglas Carter
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      I would expect of Mr. Cameron that he would publically and unambiguously request of Mr. Juncker that he makes no such intervention in the UK Referendum.

      I would also expect of the MPs of Parliament that they would similarly publically demand this of Mr. Cameron.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:20 am | Permalink

        I expect that you will be disappointed in your expectation.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted July 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

          Me too.

      • forthurst
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        The English do not like to be told by foreigners what to do, so bring it on (however, once they have worked their passage here at some point it becomes, “Yes sir/madam, no sir/madam, three bags full sir/madam”); most foreigners who wish to order the English about are wise enough speak through the mouths of our treacherous politicians.

      • DaveM
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Douglas, I presume your comment:

        “I would expect of Mr. Cameron that he would publically and unambiguously request of Mr. Juncker that he makes no such intervention in the UK Referendum”

        is meant in the sense that, as leader of the UK Govt and a sovereign state, he would not want any foreign interference in a UK only Referendum. I suspect, though, that the PM will make such a request for other reasons!

        Mr Juncker is an absolute gift to the OUT campaign. Anyone who didn’t get enraged by Merkel telling the UK Govt that, effectively, they have no powers to change the laws in their own country, either doesn’t care or is a Quisling.

        Can you imagine how fantastic it would be to see an unelected Luxemburgeois Eurocrat, largely unrecognisable, (etc ed), stand in London, broadcast on every national channel, and tell the British people that they musn’t leave the EU? Add in a Q&A afterwards with questions about law-making, sovereignty, Euro Army, unemployment rates in the Eurozone, border controls, benefits, the ECHR, etc, etc, (from people like our host, and Messrs Patterson, Cash, Gove, and a few from the other party) and the NO campaign could go to bed for a month. If he brought the patronising German Finance Minister and Martin Schultz as well, in fact, as many foreign EU-philes as possible, it would be even better.

        Does anyone genuinely think a few words from Juncker are going to sway Brits to vote YES??!!!

        Mr R – any news on EVEL?

        Reply Coming soon to a Parliament near you

  9. nigel
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    This whole issue has never been about Greece. It is and has always been about the Eurozone, and the increasingly desperate attempts by the elite in Brussels to keep their pet project alive.

  10. Douglas Carter
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I’m rather taken by a contemporary Political and Journalistic phrase emerging over the past few years which is becoming rather more fashionable.

    ‘Greece should never have been allowed to join the Euro’?

    The odd thing is the identity of who is using the term. People I can’t ever recall being anything other than gleeful enthusiasts of Greek membership at the time they joined. I’m wondering (in particular with the onset of the British Referendum buildup) whether these same people and journalistic outlets might sign a pre-disclosure form reminding all and sundry exactly what they said about the matter in 2000 and 2001?

    Following on from that, one of the elephants sedately patrolling that room is the fact of how Greece was permitted to join. It wasn’t by accident, Greece didn’t inadvertently sign the wrong piece of paper. A very large number of people participated in the process. If such an example of gross misconduct or criminal negligence occurred in any workplace I once occasioned, then prosecutions would follow. In a world in which it seems practically everyone now agrees ‘Greece should not have been permitted to join’, it seems a strange omission that there is no appetite to seek out and admonish the individuals with prime responsibility for the disaster?

    John – just for academic qualification, and a genuine question, are you aware of any economist with a credible record who believes that Greece will ever be able to pay its debt down in any realistic political or social timescale whilst remaining in the Eurozone?

    Reply. NO I don’t know of anyone who thinks the full current debt can be repaid with interest on time. I was one who wrote against Greece- and others – joining the Euro. I set out the chronic failure to “converge” the economies as planned, the necessary precursor to a currency union, in Our Currency, our country (Penguin)

    • Richard1
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      A couple of years ago a memorandum was released under the 30 year rule showing that the British Embassy in Athens, to its great credit, had warned the UK govt in the early 80s that Greece’s official stats were nonsense (even then) and that admitting Greece to the EC would be a liability (this was obviously long before EMU). The socialist Greek PM Papendreau promptly showed up to the Fontainebleau summit and said the UK should leave the EU after Margaret Thatcher secured the rebate. It was very clear indeed that Greece would be a liability – but as you imply in politics people are very rarely held to account.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Dear Douglas–It is a puzzle how every economist and his dog now says it is obvious Greece cannot repay when nothing has changed and six months ago the opposite was a given. I seem to remember somebody in the new Greek Government (I think the Finance Minister) saying very clearly that his Government’s plans were such that they were not asking for new money and would repay “every penny”. A clearer idea of where the borrowed money went would be good.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      But even if the UK government had agreed with you that Greece should not be allowed to join the euro at that time it would not have been able to veto that happening. As an EU member state the UK had a veto over which countries would join the first wave of the euro, but for subsequent additions to the eurozone starting with Greece the decisions are taken just by those member states already in the euro. It could be argued that as we are not in the euro it is none of our business which other countries are allowed to join it, but on the other hand clearly we and other non-euro EU member states are affected by those decisions and so there is an argument that they should each still have a veto over enlargement of the eurozone.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      The only way Greece can service its loan is to increase its exports. Another way of looking at it is to say that Greece can’t create euros but it can create holidays for German workers or whatever else Greece produces. So it has to earn money from exports to first pay the interest and then repay the loan. It has to expand its economy to do that.

      The loan itself wouldn’t be a problem if the Greece economy was expanding and was healthy. The easiest way of reducing the debt/GDP ratio, currently something like 180%, isn’t to repay the debt. It is to increase GDP.

      The policies of the Troika are designed to reduce GDP. Indeed they have reduced GDP by some 30% since 2008.

      It makes no sense at all to insist of more of the same.

    • stred
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I was at a party in London a few years ago when one of the uncles came up to one of the cousins and asked whether he would be repaid a large loan he had made to him too long before, and whether the cousin had a problem managing his money. The answer was ‘ Yes. You’ve got a problem’.

      Also, most of the EU supporters keen for Greece to stay in seem to talk about ‘leaving Europe’, and never put the choice as leaving the euro zone. Greeks should tell Mr Junker and his ECB and IMF functionaries that they have a problem and they have mismanaged the loans to this position on behalf of EU taxpayers.

  11. formula57
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    An unfortunate reference to suicide in the context but there is surely no disguising the fact that just like with the Scots and Alex and SNP last year, the people of Greece risk proving themselves unworthy of the leadership being offered by Jean-Claude and his fellow Eurocrats.

    Recall also this Greek wilfulness comes after Jean-Claude told them: –

    ““We will never let the Greek people down. And we know the Greek people don’t want to let down the European Union.”

    For their own sakes, let us hope the Greeks “do whatever it takes” to ensure that Mr Juncker and those who share his dreams are not disappointed any more. After all, it should not require the sacrifice of the well-being and hopes of more than one or two generations of Greeks.

  12. Ian wragg
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    What about the document by the 5 Presidents and the Spinelli group about the creation of The Federal Democratic Republic of Europe in the next few years. We can be associate members and still keep paying 20% of the cost but zero influence. Pretty much the same as now. Not much coverage in the UK press or BBC.
    The train rumbles on.

    Reply I wrote about the 5 Presidents approach here and raised it in the Commons.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Junckers comments just shows the arrogance of those who work in the EU.

    Government representatives or even the people do not count if they do not accept EU think 100%.

    Whilst Greece is in one huge mess, and its people seem to want the best of all Worlds in the form of low tax, more borrowing and the retention of the Euro, at least their Government is fighting hard on their behalf to get the best deal they can out of an awful situation.

    If only our Government were seen to be fighting so hard on our behalf for our interests.
    Well one can dream !

  14. Bob
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Someone once said that no one ever lost money by lending to the IMF.

    I can’t remember who it was.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Well, you could spend time trying to remember, or you could just put:

      “no one ever lost money by lending to the IMF”

      into google, when the names Cameron and Osborne would both come up.

      • formula57
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Conclusive proof if it were needed for how right the EU was to demand google adheres to the “right to be forgotten” ruling.

  15. Richard1
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I have always found it extraordinary the way these EU officials treat themselves as if they were elected representatives. m. junker is an official. We should no more be hearing his views in this way than the views of say Sir Jeremy Heywood. juncker’s foolish, self-important and self-pitying remarks bear out David Cameron’s judgement in seeking to block his nomination as commission president, and reminds us again what bad news was the Labour Govt which gave up the British PM’s power to block unsuitable people from this post.

    • sjb
      Posted July 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      The European Parliament elected Juncker as President of the EU Commission in July 2014.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Junckers’ remarks were untimely and ill-thought out . He was obviously over stressed from the negotiations and lost his cool . The cruel truth is Greece cannot afford the discipline required of the EZ and should leave it ; their debt mountain is beyond the limits of their way of life . Their dignity can only come from the restoration of the drachma and a return to a straightforward economy based on tourism .

    On Monday I watched the Parliamentary debate and questions put to Cameron on his return from Brussels . It was understandable that much of the time was highlighted by the Tunisian tragedy and the sympathies expressed ; what I did not like was the slippery way Cameron ducked the few questions put to him on his negotiations for a better deal with Europe . He was evasive and did not show much respect for the questions put either in content or in his manner . Frankly I would much rather have the Juncker exasperation than the Cameron wiliness .

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    JR : “He tells them to vote Yes whatever the question.”
    Typical reaction from an EU leader.
    How dare a national member country deem itself to have an opinion alien to that of those who know best; worse still, allow the nonentities who live there to express their opinions. Blind subservience to their masters in Brussels must be the order of the day.
    Democracy is anathema to the EU.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      Brian

      …”yes whatever the question….’

      Perhaps the question should be:

      D0 you want to leave the Euro !

      or

      Do you want us to regain control of our own Country

  18. Colin Hart
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Words left out ed

    I very much hope Juncker will make numerous interventions in our own referendum debate. Anything he says will do the OUT cause no end of good.

  19. Barry Sheridan
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    The people whose ideal is a United States of Europe are quite prepared to sacrifice anyone or anything in pursuit of their aim. But there is more going here than just Europe, for the EU is becoming the testing ground for a seamless world order run by unelected technocrats entirely disconnected from those beneath them. Integral to these goals are not only the destruction of elected government, but also those recognisable freedoms of speech and action and ability to determine your own path through life. The contempt displayed by Mr Juncker to the plight of the Greek people will be mirrored on a wider scale in this future.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      It is a little known fact that thanks mainly to Lincoln’s determination to preserve the Union at all costs, on largely specious grounds, the ideal of a United States of America cost more American lives in one Civil War than the total lost in all of the other wars in which Americans have ever fought.

    • Martyn G
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Quite agree and it seems to me that the book ‘1984’, without textual change, could usefully be re-titled as ‘2024’.
      By then its content – already much of it relevant to today – would fit perfectly into the envisaged EU Republic…..

  20. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    The Labour party crowed with joy when Mr Cameron tried and failed the block the appointment of Juncker, I assume then they are happy with Junckers egocentric behaviour – perhaps someone should ask them. At the same time ask why they, via their unquestioning support of the EU, support an extreme austerity programme in Greece whilst speaking against a very mild (actually non-existent) austerity policy in UK. Why do they support EU imperialism ?

    • Tim L
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Politicians in the UK and Europe were quick enough to call for Blatter to quit FIFA.

      I think you can safely say the mis-management of the Euro zone is far worse.

  21. ChrisS
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    None of the players in this tragedy have ever acted in the interests of Greece. Their only concern has been to ruthlessly safeguard the European project and the Euro.

    No country or its people can be allowed to stand in their way. (Words left out ed) No wonder European voters are becoming ever more cynical.

    We have ample proof of this :

    A damning piece in the Guardian yesterday described a report from the Troika which stated clearly that is will be impossible for Greece ever repaying its debts. Yet the intense bullying we have seen has all been designed to make Greece toe the line on Austerity without addressing the issue of debt relief at all. Ridiculous !

    If you haven’t read the Guardian piece it’s here : http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/30/greek-debt-troika-analysis-says-significant-concessions-still-needed

    Today we have an article in the Independent exploring the woeful record of the IMF in its dealings with Greece. Hard hitting is an understatement ! It accuses the IMF of acting almost like a second arm of the EU when its charter states clearly that its remit is to act in the best interest of the countries it is supposed to be helping, not the EU.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/greece-crisis-imf-was-pushed-around-by-angela-merkel-and-nicholas-sarkozy–and-now-it-is-being-humiliated-10356247.html

  22. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I do not think it is wrong to express a personal perspective of sadness at the situation, he could be lambasted for not having any feelings ( being on such a good salary and a target for dissapproval ) yet it is how one does it that matters. Language is very important ;notice how I put how ‘one’ does it instead of ‘you’. If I put one , I could be accused and ridiculed for thinking I am HM and if I put ‘you’ I could be talking directly about ‘you’.
    It was a let them eat cake moment and it shows how emotions get in the way of laying out an objective to be reasoned out ;yet we are all human and have these feelings which get in the way of our Vulcan times.
    The way he reacted is similar to the way many others react , yet what is applicable to one situation does not necessarily work in an alternative situation.This is the frightening thing about logic and AI .
    We will no more by later today .

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      Of course that is know more ; simple semantics

  23. Kenneth
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    It is my impression that many Germans and many other Europeans (the Dutch especially) are sick of paying for this crisis management.

    Most European countries are used to things running in an orderly way. The eu, by contrast, is amateurish and bungling.

    The obvious thing to say is that this thing is not working and cannot work due to the conflict between democratic states and the so-called ‘solidarity’. Instead of admitting this, the bureaucrats continue to take German, Dutch and other European taxpayers’ money and flush it down the toilet.

  24. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Perspectives differ: while my eurosceptic friends view the EU as antidemocratic, the Greeks, in their demonstration last night want the EU (and the euro) as an assurance of democracy. In spite of current problems they don’t lose sight of that (i.e. the Copenhagen criteria). Don’t be surprised that countries like Croatia would like to enter the eurozone. Euro troubles hopefully will be temporary problems.

    • ian wragg
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Of course countries like Croatia want to join the EZ. What’s not to like, sucking at the teat of the European taxpayer and when all goes tits up holding out for a handout.
      What has Croatia and the like got to offer the EZ, nothing as far as I can see except something else to depress the value of the Euro so Germany can keep on exporting.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        @ian wragg: for one, they’ve got better beaches than Britain and once they pay with the euro, that would make it easier for me too as a tourist.
        On their down-side – many of their brightest young people move to wealthier countries like the Netherlands and Germany, so it will be important to help Croatia becoming more attractive to its own citizens. Something that we already see happening in Poland.

        • Margaret Brandreth-J
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          Peter I remember many years in Croatia( The old Yugoslavia) hurting my feet on the rocky shingle beaches and getting urchin spikes in my feet. We have exquisite beaches here.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

            @Margaret Brandreth-J: Pity though you lack the exquisite warm weather (except maybe this weekend 🙂 )

        • ian wragg
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

          Peter, I don’t know the last time you were in Croatia but I was there last September. The hotelier and the local businesses I spoke to didn’t want the Euro. I carried Euro and local currency (Kuna) and in all cases they chose their own. Like Poland I think they are backtracking on Euro implementation.
          You say you are retired but 3 months before our election you stopped blogging at the advice from your employer. What difference would that make if you were really retiring shortly.
          (You appear to be a propagandist for the EU ed)

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

            @ian wragg: What nonsense again my friend, having taken early retirement I’ve been retired over five years. Why are people like you so distrusting of me? I take my own decisions and there may be more than one reason to stop debating here, I sometimes still have a very busy life.

    • DaveM
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      PvL,

      The EU can be as democratic or undemocratic as it likes. It could be paradise on Earth, but if it means I am ruled by a foreign power I wouldn’t want to be part of it. If I was living in Russia in the 1960s I would probably despise the Khruschev regime and possibly even be a dissident. But the flag I would fly at the head of my dissidency would be a Russian one . The people of N Korea who dislike their regime don’t want to be part of Greater China, they just want a different leader.

      I fully understand your arguments about the flaws in UK democratic processes, the HoL, etc. But the issue, as always, is sovereignty. The UK may well go along with what the EU wants to do, but it must be as a result of a UK Govt decision, not a result of direction from Brussels.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        @DaveM: That is a very respectable position. Different from you, I have no problem with sharing part of our sovereignty with other countries, as in the European project. It means that in the Netherlands we have influence in Belgium and Germany (e.g. Germany has postponed the introduction of a controversial road toll scheme after the European Commission took legal action against it, after Dutch and Belgian complaints)
        and they have influence over here (Belgium will enforce the Dutch Hedwige polder to be flooded, via the European Commission)
        There are joint police forces and joint projects in the border regions, it becomes more and more difficult to view the French or the Germans etc. as totally foreign, especially when you can speak a common language, have a common currency and no visible borders.

        Reply We have no land frontier with continental countries so we do not have these problems

        • stred
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          If the EU can stop the Germans charging motorway tolls, why can’t they stop the French charging tolls that are more than the fuel, when they can drive to the UK, and Holland and drive free. At the moment only a small fraction of foreign travelers have paid the Thames crossing tolls and they can’t be traced.

          • stred
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

            Above question to PvL

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            The Germans were planning to compensate their own nationals, so that would amount to discriminating against foreign drivers/cars. Especially a nuisance for people living in border regions =, also because this would apply to all roads, not just toll roads as you have them near Birmingham and where you can chose an alternative road.

    • Tom William
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I am not sure they want the EU as “an assurance of democracy” when they remember how badly they have been treated by the EU. More likely is that membership of the EU is, to them, a sign of respectability and of being in a club which can blackball, but did not (although it should have done so). Also “don’t let go of nanny for fear of finding something worse”.

      Very sad.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

        @Tom William: I’m not so sure who has been treating whom badly in this whole crisis period. If you cheat, refuse to better your life (reform), refuse to pay your bills and end up in the gutter, you may deserve some compassion, but it doesn’t mean that you’ve been treated badly.
        Look at the example of Latvia. Many countries had to live through the crisis and took responsibility.

    • Kenneth
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen, you’ve nicely encapsulated the inherent problem.

      To some countries the eu represents a defence against potential dictatorship. To others, though, it is a backward step towards a loss of democracy.

      The same can be said of the economics: to some countries (the net recipients) it makes financial sense. To the net contributors it makes no financial sense.

      These fault lines are not going away, they are getting worse.

      • Alexis
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        My thoughts exactly Kenneth.

        If you are used to dysfunctional government and no money – then government by the EU, plus an injection of EU money, will make perfect sense. Why wouldn’t it?

        In this country we have a robust, fully functioning legal system and parliament. That is being destroyed by Brussels. We are net financial contributors – so we lose money. We are obliged to accept any citizen from any other EU country – whether we have a job for them here or not. Our infrastructure and welfare systems are cracking under the strain.

        Why should we continue to be members? (And why does our own PM have a ‘firm aim’ to keep us in?)

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        @Kenneth: I see your point but still don’t think it is quite like that. An extra layer in democracy for a number of policy areas (as in the EU) doesn’t stand in the way of taking decisions closer to the citizen ( as in much stricter subsidiarity and decentralisation, which is still to be achieved but is on course)> I would consider the German democracy as more recent and thus more modern and well equipped than the UK democracy, but the Germans don’t feel this “loss of democracy” as far as I know. I don’t mean to imply that EU democracy couldn’t or shouldn’t be improved and luckily it is a “project under construction”, so further improvements can realistically be expected.
        Are fault lines getting worse? Too early to judge I would say. Give it another ten or twenty years.

        • Kenneth
          Posted July 1, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          Peter

          As far as you know?

          I am sure you know very well that many Dutch people are lamenting the loss of democracy because of the eu and so it would surely follow that, particularly with the current Greek crisis, many Germans share the same worries.

          Give it another 10 or 20 years? OK, so I guess this is your sense of humour. Another generation of youngsters out of work used as part of the great experiment, just to see if it may actually work some day? Yes, you are joking. Aren’t you?

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

            @Kenneth: “as far as I know”- I don’t have detailed statistic on everything at hand. I did see that Merkel has overwhelming support in her parliament, and that the eurosceptics are a small minority in Germany. Same over in the Netherlands, even though the number of eurosceptics is a larger minority.

            Both German and Dutch youth unemployment figures are an awful lot better than those of the UK, maybe haver a look at home first. Spain also had high unemployment before the financial crisis, so comparing UK with Spain would be a bit too easy.
            I don’t expect “another generation of youngsters to be out of work”

  25. bigneil
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “Mr Junker is paid around £300,000 a year ” – -paid? – – or – -takes out of the EU demanded pot. Is he running a business? – is he there to make a profit? The whole thing is showing it’s true colours. Corrupt and self centred as can be – and clearly DC wants to be sat in Brussels. . . Birds of a feather?

  26. Wireworm
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    The Greek situation puts me in mind of a sci-fi movie where beings resembling humans are kept alive in pods, row upon row in a vast repository. Some alien power sees it in its interest to maintain this arrangement in perpetuity. Clearly there is no means of escape.

  27. agricola
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    What the whole EU/Greece situation would seem to lack is clarity and leadership. The EU bureaucracy, led by Junker, cannot bear the thought that a nation that has been screwed by austerity should ever wish to leave the Euro. They do not understand that their mantra austerity is not a path to recovery with reform, it is a life sentence lacking sympathy and is the seed corn of revolution.

    The Greeks, who have not really come to terms with the financially insane way they have conducted themselves, do not wish to cut the umbilical. They must come to terms with the reality that you cannot run a country on a political philosophy alone, it needs a solid financial base. To date the Euro has provided largesse for all with little sense of responsibility.

    Both sides are culpable, and need to accept this. They can either agree a twenty year plan to recovery with a level of financial control that not even the EU are familiar with, or the Greeks should leave and re-create the Drachma. The plan must be desirable and acceptable to both sides. For sure Greece cannot be left to work out it’s own solutions but the path must not be total Germanic austerity.

    The basic lesson is that you need to create national wealth to fund the philosophy you wish to live by. Anything less is pure fantasy.

  28. DaveM
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Peter, I am a complete fan of international cooperation in terms of policing, and so on. In fact, next week I will be in Den Helder celebrating the Dutch Korps Mariniers’ 350th birthday – they share a common history with us going back as far as 1704, and my Corps has closer relations with them and the US Marines than it does with the British army. But we also have friends in the US, Australia, NZ, Canada, etc, and want to be free to pursue those friendships at our own discretion. There is every appetite in the UK to be best friends with our continental neighbours, but the EU, with its interference and its constant demands for money and petty rule changes, is making many in the UK see continental countries as foreigners not to be trusted, rather than friends who we can work with to our mutual benefit. It’s infuriating.

    • Peter van Leeuwen
      Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      @DaveM: In the light of all the suffering, e.g. in Greece, The EU (that is us!) will have to put some very fundamental questions to itself: too much “institute”, too distant, too little part of us, our values etc. too much only about economy. No reason for me to disown the EU, as it has great potential due to its flexibility. It is a hybrid and will always be, not to become a USE. There will be a looser relationship available for the UK, I’m sure, even if a treaty change may not happen before 2020.

  29. Pete
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    “Most people could put up with a few difficult meetings for such a large public reward from taxpayers”.
    In fact I am available for just such negotiations. I anticipate an end to the Greek uncertainty very rapidly. One announcement should do it. “No more bail outs for anybody ever, sort your own finances out and don’t whine if you can’t do it right.”
    I could also intervene in the present communist uprising in Calais that the French government appear totally unable to control. At last a proper use for British troops overseas.
    For my services I am happy to accept half Mr Junckers salary and no gigantic pension either.
    Sorted.

  30. Jon
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    This is his Queen Marie Antoinette moment I read in the Daily Express that out of the £2.2m canteen budget they spend thousands on a grape peeler! They have lost the plot when you think of the life ruining events around the Mediterranean. I don’t want to be a part of that sick system.

  31. Boudicca
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Junker is a petulant little man who thinks he’s important. He isn’t. He just has the trappings of someone important because the EU needs to buy the loyalty of people with money, titles, status symbols and pensions.

    The anti-democrats who created the Euro are responsible for this debacle. Goldman Sachs also have a great deal of responsibility, together with the EU and the Greek politicians who (arranged ed) the books to make Greece appear qualified to join. It isn’t the fault of the ordinary Greek people ….. but Juncker, Merkel, Lagarde et all are determined to have their pound of flesh.

    They disgust me.

    • ChrisS
      Posted July 2, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      I totally agree with you – up to a point.

      The ordinary people of Greece are at least partly to blame for their situation : They are guilty of failing to pay taxes and being complicit in endemic corruption which even extends to having to pay Doctors 90% in cash for treatment.

      A country that tolerates this kind of behaviour for decades has no place in the EU, let alone the Eurozone.

      Sadly the same can be said for several of the member states that joined more recently.

  32. bluedog
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    What the Greeks need now, Dr JR, is a debtor insurrection in other PIGS that are not creditors of Greece. This boils down to Portugal and Ireland, and it is in the Greek interest to ensure that they are not alone in their struggle with the EU/EMU hierarchy. If the Greeks are not closely liaising with other EMU debtor nations, they should be. The greater the pressure that can be applied to the EMU leadership, the stronger the Greek position on a relative basis.

    Chancellor Osborne certainly pulled the wrong rein in denouncing the Greeks for potentially exposing the UK to EMU related costs. If he had thought slightly harder, Gideon would have realised if we weren’t in the EU the exposure may not have been incurred.

    At this stage the score is 15-0 to Greece, with Greece to serve for the second time in succession as their opponent is in still arguing with the umpire.

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    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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