“A German Europe” – Joshka Fischer speaks out

In a recent article the past German Foreign Minister, Joshka Fischer, argues that on the night of July 12-13 2015 Germany made a momentous decision during the talks on Greece. Under the influence of her Finance Minister, the German Chancellor shifted from wanting more Europe, a European Germany, to wanting less Europe and a German led Europe.

I agree with Mr Fischer that Germany argued strongly for a Euro in Germany’s own image. He went on to explain how the economic policy put onto Greece will not work and how Germany now wants the Euro as a sphere of influence rather than as a European project. I do not agree with him that this means less Europe, as he puts it. It means more Europe of the kind Germany seeks. It will mean more budgetary controls over other member states, more common economic policies. States other than Greece will become in Mr Fischer’s words “European protectorates” following German led policy.

Germany’s main interest now seems to be to avoid making the transfers and payments that rich parts of a currency zone have to make to allow it to work. That is why Germany recommends more austerity for a country like Greece, in preference to sending Greece grants to assist her in a time of need. The policy is not working so far, as Germany has been party to large loans with strict terms that now may not be repaid, or will be repaid with less interest over a longer time period, making them more like the grants Germany opposes.

The latest disaster is the impact of the EU generated banking crisis in Greece on economic output and tax revenue. The longer the Euro members took to argue over the next bail out, and the meaner the ECB was in making money available to the Greek banking system, the more damage was done to the incomes and budgets of Greek people and the Greek state. There is a danger that the damage done to the Greek accounts mean that the third bail out package still being negotiated will not be enough.

That will just confirm the German view that they need to be tougher in requiring financial discipline and economic reform from the rest of the Eurozone. Mr Fischer is right to tell us we now have a German led Europe. In view of the stresses and strain, and the need for more discipline and centralised policy for the Euro area, the case for UK exit from the EU or that fundamental change of relationship becomes clearer by the day.

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107 Comments

  1. Old Albion
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    A German Europe !!!
    Didn’t they try that before?

    • Timaction
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Just a few times. Mr Redwood is right about the fundamental change required but his leadership and the legacies are blind to their political project of “ever closer union”! They believe they are citizens of Europe and the English don’t exist. We do, but it will turn into a battle that we will win.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Worse.
      Herr Fischer is a member of the very group which is drawing up a new constitution ready for 2017 and which is due to be ratified by each of the 28 states, possibly by referendum, by 2025. If it comes into force, it will make just one big European Country with its own flag, parliament, national anthem and president. The countries of Europe will be downgraded to “States”. EFTA countries and perhaps Turkey will become Associate Members – with vague privileges. Great Britain is a problem which is noted but not really discussed.
      The unelected and unaccountable Commission will have more powers.
      I am not going to do an ad hominem, but it is remarkably easy. He has quite a past, along with Dany Cohn-Bendit. Now both men are leading lights in the Bertelsmann-Spinelli group. Just google it all. Wikipedia will give you the background etc ed.
      To make the Euro work, the Eurozone must coagulate. I suspect (but do not know) that Mme Merkel is thinking of being re-elected (Due at the latest 2017).

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        Dear Mike–All this good stuff about coagulated or homogenised or centralised budgets never seems even to begin to address the unarguably and blindingly obvious problem that the Euro exchange rate is considerably too low for Germany but considerably too high for the likes of Greece.

    • Atlas
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Unfortunately they tried it twice.

      What was the phrase “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer”?

      Please not again.

      Reply No-one should suggest this is anything other than a voluntary process entered into by the peoples and governments of the other countries. The argument is over is it in the interests of Germany and the others to carry on with these plans?

      • Graham
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:50 am | Permalink

        Reply to Reply

        I think I would suggest that it is not a voluntary process.

        Please tell me where we have had the chance to alter direction since we first entered the Common Market?

        Didn’t some countries vote ‘no’ and were told to get the right answer – which was achieved by coercion/bribery/political deals of governments working for the EU not their voters.

        Methinks this will happen again here with the Referendum.

      • Narrow Shoulders
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        Voluntary based upon misrepresentation and than backed up with threats ala Greece (and Italy and Malta).

        You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

        • John C.
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          I think we are different. If we DO vote to leave, that will be it. We are too big a fish to play, and a NO vote will mean the British people have had enough.
          It’s still unlikely that we will vote No, though, unless there are further fissures in Euroland.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 6, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        The people in the UK have never been given a fair & unbiased say. They will still not get a fair say from Cameron referendum. The BBC, Cameron, EU funding, CBI, Universities, the state sector and the rest of the usual suspects will see to that.

        Has he decided what he wants in the renegotiation yet?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      Yes, but with a more united Europe and if we vote to stay in then we will be asked to use the Euro. This is what Germany really wants.

    • Ben Blaker
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Why do you think the German led EU is pushing and funding all these Europeans to enter the UK.
      First to destroy the economy, and second to provide a base to stop us leaving the EU.
      If there is a vote to leave the EU, what’s the betting there will be massive riots from all the Eastern Europeans living on benefits when they are told they have to leave ?

      • Richard1
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

        Really? How many Eastern Europeans are living on benefits? I’d say Eastern Europeans have made a big contribution to the UK economy. Building work in London eg is far higher quality and better value these days thanks to competition from Polish builders. I don’t think it’s EU immigration which has been the problem, and I don’t see why any of these people would be thrown out even if the UK voted to leave the EU.

        • Narrow Shoulders
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          I’d say the majority of Eastern European immigrants in the UK are claiming housing benefit, child benefit or tax credits to top up the minimum wage they are earning.

          The complete scroungers aren’t the real problem it is the volume and the fact they claim in work benefits. Locust like they really do swarm.

    • Mitchel
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      @Mercia.There’s always the Russian way….grab the land,expel the people!It works quite well,provided you’re not expecting much economic activity from that land.

      • Mercia
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

        @Mercia.There’s always the Russian way….grab the land,expel the people!

        >
        I think its undeniable the vast majority of the people of Crimea wanted to go back under Russian control. There is no point fighting the will of the people.

        • Mitchel
          Posted August 6, 2015 at 8:49 am | Permalink

          I’m not referring to Crimea-Crimea IS Russian;93% of the population surveyed recently by GfK for the Ukrainian,yes Ukrainian,government want to stay with Russia-I’m referring to older acquisitions,Koenigsberg,Sakhalin,Kuril Islands,etc!

    • Tom William
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Mercia

      Yours is a curious view of the second world war. If Britain had been occupied there would have been no invasion of Normandy and no US forces fighting in Europe. Germany would have ruled the Middle East as well as Europe and without the threat and bombing from a free Britain would have had no trouble in maintaining its rule. There would also have been gas chambers in Britain.

      How much support there would have been in Britain for “law and order” rather than “terrorism by partisans” is certainly debatable. Look at France.

    • John C.
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      The Germans can’t win, in effect. They like the idea of the Eurozone, as good Europeans, and also because it means they can sell with a currency weaker than the Mark.
      However, they resent, not surprisingly, being in a situation where they face having to bail out weak economies for.., well, forever.
      I think in the long run, they will have to admit the situation is untenable, and they will allow a collapse of the Euro. Common sense dictates that all of them would be better off free of these ridiculous shackles.

      • turbo terrier
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        John C

        Common sense dictates that all of them would be better off free of these ridiculous shackles.

        When did the majority of politicians within the EU Parliament apply common sense?

  2. mickc
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Perhaps a German led Europe may escape from the present catastrophic US led foreign policy, such as sanctions against Russia.

    That policy has crippled EU trade with Russia, whilst US trade has increased. The US policy for the Middle East has caused the migrant crisis, again a problem for Europe, not the US.

    The UK should pursue its own interests, independently of either the US or EU.

    • Mercia
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      The UK should pursue its own interests, independently of either the US or EU.

      >
      I agree, the UK should pursue its own interests. The US seems to believe that if we give the Germans the dominance in Europe they always wanted this will secure peace. I do not see why we have to take that view. Neither do I see why we have to support US neocon and German interests in Eastern Ukraine at the expense of dangerous hostility with Russia. We need an independent foreign policy that serves our interests and not everyone elses.

      • mickc
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        I don’t think Germany had any interests in the Ukraine. Merkel surely recognises that the Ukraine is Russia’s backyard and wouldn’t wish to jeopardise good relations with Russia over that. A good relationship with Russia would have automatically given access to the Ukraine market.

        The Ukraine disaster is a US neocon project in pursuit of of the Wolfowitz Doctrine that the US become and remain the world hegemon. The EU has merely gone along because it is led by stupid bureaucrats who have been used.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

          From March 2014:

          https://euobserver.com/foreign/123396

          “Centre-right leaders give Ukraine hope of EU membership”

          That presumptuous Ukrainian woman Yulia Tymoshenko was treated as a heroine and given a standing ovation, and Angela Merkel said:

          “Ukrainian people have the same right for freedom and democracy as we have in the EU.”

          adding:

          “And the same goes for the people in Moldova, Georgia, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

          So it is clear that the Ukraine would only be the beginning of yet another phase of EU enlargement, which would end up on the western shores of the Caspian Sea; and of course Hague wrote his “referendum block” law to make sure that even if all those peoples had their respective national referendums on whether they wanted their countries to join the EU (and later the euro) the British people would never have a referendum on whether they wanted any of those countries to be allowed to join.

        • Mitchel
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

          Germany has annexed the Ukraine twice before,once officially under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Bolsheviks and the other defacto during WWII.Neither worked well for the people living there.Third time lucky?

    • Mitchel
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      In theory I agree with you but we have effectively been sold into debt slavery and as such the maintenance of our apparent wealth is entirely at the mercy of the financial markets and those who control them.Given that,the British Establishment is never going to recommend a loosening of ties with the US (at least not until/unless the US implodes under the weight of its own debt and China achieves pre-eminence) or the EU.The government will continue to do as it told by both these parties despite occasional huffing and puffing for the voting public’s benefit.

    • Mercia
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps a German led Europe may escape from the present catastrophic US led foreign policy, such as sanctions against Russia.

      >
      I am worried Obama has made Cameron burn his bridges with Putin, when Merkel and Hollande have not.

      I got the impression that at the start of the Ukraine crisis and in the preceedings months that Obama was phoning up Cameron and telling him what the joint strategy was, which mainly involved Cameron making zero sum statements which seemed to imply the West was set on regime change. I realize this was a bluff, but it was a bluff mainly at our expense because now I cannot see how Cameron can ever meet Putin without feeling rather embarrassed. Merkel and Hollande never made that mistake, they fell out with Putin but not in a zero sum way.

  3. APL
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    JR: “There is a danger that the damage done to the Greek accounts mean that the third bail out package still being negotiated will not be enough.”

    The third bail out package that is still under negotiation will not be enough.

    • Mitchel
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      I agree with you APL.I also think we should keep an eye on Ukraine where both the IMF and the EU are drip-feeding loans to prevent implosion/default.Russia is refusing to negotiate on a 3bn Eurobond that matures at the end of this year and will demand payment in full,the consortium of predatory US hedge funds has only offered to accept a 10% haircut and the economy is still tanking.I do not want to see more UK taxpayers money risked in an attempt to buy out Russia and draw Ukraine closer to the EU.

      • John C.
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Yes the Ukraine is yet another example of the will of a people to be allied to those they feel closer to, rather than part of an artificial construct. How many conflicts have broken out in the last century through the desire of a people to be either independent and free, or allied to those with whom they feel fellowship and a racial identity?
        This is why the E.U. is playing with fire in its aim to mingle peoples in a borderless landmass, denying history and a sense of identity.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Probably not enough even if the previous €100 billion debt write-down was followed by another €85 billion debt write-down.

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Indeed as you say, the case for UK exit from the EU or that fundamental change of relationship becomes clearer by the day. So why is Cameron’s government not making this case in any way, nor indeed saying anything much on the issue at all?

    Meanwhile we have the total farce of the government ministers authorising £3 million of tax payers’ money to Kids Company against officials’ advice, only for it to close a day or two later. Does no one do any due diligence before releasing such sums? Why did they over rule official advice? Indeed why do governments fund such charities anyway? etc ed

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/predictions/politics/11784111/Kids-Company-has-told-the-Government-it-will-close.html

    • Mitchel
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      Kids Company,like all Blair-era icons,that employ scions of the Liberal Establishment,must have as much money thrown at it as it demands and is so inherently virtuous that no questions should ever be asked.

      • Mitchel
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        The BBC quotes a senior insider as saying Cameron was “mesmerised”by Batmanghelidjh and it was a case of “glamour over substance”.How very Cameroon….and the loyalists expect this man to re-negotiate our relationship with the EU!

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

          I fear you are right. Perhaps the hypnotic effects of all the Christmas tree types of decorations worn as they swing side to side on endless BBC appearances.

          Let us hope Cameron can develop some wisdom as he ages, or that someone with some wisdom can advise him, twist his are or replace him.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Same with everything Lifelogic. They have been warned about their stupid green energy policies by experts and not people with vested interests but did they listen? Did they hell. The amount of money wasted by governments is gross. A truck driver was on this morning talking about how drivers are being persecuted for finding illegal immigrants on their trucks after coming through the tunnel. He reckons it’s the governments way of funding the new security measures in Calais. He could be right. Until more is done to protect these drivers they will find themselves the scapegoats.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        You might have thought that before throwing away £3M of tax payers money at the charity they might have found out if it was capable of lasting a bit longer than a couple of days on it.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps it was a please go quietly, donation LL

          • livelogic
            Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Not much chance of that. Doubtless she will as usual be endlessly on the BBC (perhaps with the BBC’s Mr Yentob). Doubtless questions will be not answered at all and the debate always moved on to emotional stories about the children they claim to have helped. All will be blamed on the media or lack of yet more money from government.

            To me she comes across as the sort of person I would not put in charge of anything at all. Let alone give £ 40million of tax payers money to and always has done.

      • willH
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        The fining of truckers over the immigrants is a disgrace, how are they to keep the hoards out of their vehicles, Cameron could show some leadership by showing us how to bring a truck through the tunnel without any getting in.

        • Edward2
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Agreed, it is the job of drivers to drive, not to act as surrogate security guards.
          Attackers on coaches and lorries have been using crow bars to break locks and using knives to slit roofs and sides of vehicles.
          How can drivers be fined thousands when they have no way of controlling or confronting this.
          Totally unjust.

  5. David Edwards
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Surely the Eurozone is already a de facto transfer union, since everyone seems to advise, including the IMF, that there is no possibility that Greece will be able to repay its debt. The difficulty is that whilst the European elite may want a transfer union the people do not and therefore it needs to be wrapped up in a different package. If the Euro is to survive, further political union is required and I wonder if, in the face of an increasingly politically fragmented people less welcoming of state interference, the intention is simply to present it as a fait accompli.

  6. Mark B
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    I agree very strongly with our kinds hosts third paragraph. I think it is finally beginning to dawn on the German populace what it really means to be in a currency union much like the one we have here in the UK and in the US.

    The Germans simply do not want to pay. Neither do they want large scale money printing.

    Perhaps it’s Germany that should leave the Euro ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Germany leaving euro = end of euro.

      Unless it seemed a jolly good idea for Ireland and Slovenia to still share the same currency, even though they were no longer sharing it with Germany.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Also I see in the Telegraph that our “envy of the World” and Cameron’s priority in three letters, N… H… S… has cancer survival rates 1/3 worse than those of Australia and well behind Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. This from research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    Still at least it is “free” at the point of rationing, delay, misdiagnosis, incompetence and non treatment I suppose.

    When will the government even begin to start sorting it out?

    • JJE
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Serious question – is there anything that the British State runs that is run well? Any shining example at all of efficiency and service?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

        Er, well in London they are quite efficient at issuing parking tickets about 2 seconds after your meter expires and they disappearing again seconds after. Or if one tyre strays an inch into a bus lane. But I suppose this is all privatised now.

        Also they seem quite efficient at ensuring that state sector have pension pots of about 5 times those of the private sector.

        Quite good at finding endless excuses for the state to interfere in almost every aspect of people lives. Thus justifying more and more parasitic jobs in the state sector.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          Oh and making perhaps the most complex, idiotic, incomprehensible, damaging and longest tax code in the world.

      • Ken
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

        Reminds one of the old saying ‘nationalised and paralysed’.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      I don’t see how they can sort it out when every day more immigrants (legal and illegal) enter the country and get free health care.

      • John C.
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

        I suspect anything free will be abused inevitably, and that the adamantine rule that NHS believers (it is a sort of religion) refuse to shift from, i.e. that it must be free always and for everyone, is strangling it.
        Unless direct contribution is imposed, it will continue to be a noble ideal which in fact has killed thousands.

        • lifelogic
          Posted August 6, 2015 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

          Thousands every year or even each month.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    I wonder why the great thinking leaders of all of the other Nations in the EU have not seen this for some time.

    Afraid if you want to remain in the EU, its the German way or no way.

    France in particular still thinks of Germany as their big Nation partner in the EU, they will eventually find they are no such thing, if they themselves do not get their own finances in order soon.

    It will take time, but it will all fall part eventually, far too many differences between all Countries to become one huge State under German control.

    Better we leave now, than later at much more cost.

    • Mitchel
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      The German way or Norway!

  9. Barry Sheridan
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    A Europe run by those who join the ranks of its hierarchy, becoming as they do so Euro-apparatchiks, inevitably means that attempts will made to use Germany’s wealth for the greater good, well, perhaps not good, but it will be siphoned away from the German people. Merkel not only avoids acknowledging this fact, but continues to avoid allowing any such thing from happening. The consequences for the rest of Europe, or at least those outside of the German orbit, is financial penury. For Greece it is a disaster, one its own people cannot come to terms with. The only way forward for Greece is a return to the Drachma, to stay under the German mandate is simply disastrous. It is a political tragedy that this step was not taken. Given Britain’s own debt situation and the natural antipathy that exists amongst many Europeans for this land it is as well we never joined the Euro.

  10. agricola
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    You ask some complex and deep questions so do not anticipate glib one liners in reply.

    Whatever Joshka Fischer and his Finance Minister may want it does not appear to be a reversion to democracy. A European Germany or a German Europe does not appear to tackle the democratic deficit. Has anyone dared to consider asking the people of Europe what sort of Europe they want. Again what sort of Europe do the German people want.

    The current Europe gives Germany a cheap currency to assist her exports. I do not know how much she needs to import but assume the largest item is oil and that is delineated in US Dollars for everyone.

    If Germany cannot accept the responsibility of being a California or Texas in the USE, then there is no USE. They cannot expect Montana to be as economically effective as California or Texas. The type of Euro area that Germany appears to want is one of equal partners. This means a much smaller grouping of Northern European countries. I sympathise with Germany in it’s desire that it’s European partners run their countries on a sound economic basis, but Germany will always have to act as the mother ship in a USE.

    The interesting question is, should a new northern grouping include France. One could also conceive of a group of equal partners in the southern states of Europe, but I honestly think they would all be better going their independent ways with their own currencies for many years to come.

    One can see why Germany would want the UK to belong to any grouping because it spreads the financial burden. We would become the lender of second resort. However the UK never has been nor never will be a willing partner in any Napoleonic scheme even in Northern Europe. We have always been too outward looking and individualistic to be very good club members, apart that is from your leader and various sycophantic fellow travellers.

    Europa is a dilemma in need of an entirely new vision that her people believe in and can be part of. To date I have seen little sign of such emerging from the forest of dated thinking.

    • Bert Young
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Agricola . A very sensible response . Germany has always defended its surplus and has believed that the whole of the EZ is capable of the same discipline . The benefit of the low Euro has been a major factor in the build up of their surplus so it is natural for them to want to keep it . Whether they can continue this way is now a major challenge to Angela Merkel who is soon to face an election .

      The break up of the EZ is inevitable because Germany and Holland will never give up their wealth knowing that it would soon be frittered away ; if they were to regard the disbursement as an investment , it would be too risky a proposition . The time that has elapsed since the last war has been sufficient for the Germans to put their conscience element to one side ; they are “savers”at heart and what they have will be protected from wanton spenders .

  11. Sean
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Erm! Wait one minute! Didn’t anyone in British politics see this coming ? Well I guess I know the answer to my own question. I think they knew, but not one of you have a backbone to stand up to the EU hell hole or Germany. I’m sick and tired of weak British politicians.

  12. Ian wragg
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Your boss evidently doesn’t see any need to leave a German led EU. Just as he doesn’t really see a problem importing half a million foreigners annually. Most people who were fooled into voting for you instead of UKIP must feel very betrayed. As things stand 2020 will be UKIP with knobs on. This really is the last chance saloon. etc ed
    Reply Mr Cameron has pledged to cut migration substantially and is about to implement more policies to try to do that. He knows how important that pledge was in the election. He wishes to negotiate “fundamental change” in our relationship, as he clearly understands the UK cannot belong to the Euro or the political union it may create.

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      So why do we all think Cameron will return with virtually nothing out of the negotiations and we will eventually be dragged kicking and screaming further into the European fiasco?

    • ian wragg
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      According to Migration Watch, immigration is still running at an all time high. 50% of immigrants are from outside the EU which you say you can control. Why has there been no reduction from the area which you can control and why bare you dishing out UK passports like confetti.
      As for the new relationship, no one has any idea what he is negotiating especially the EU heads of state.
      The clock is ticking

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      JR: “He knows how important that pledge was in the election.”
      He made the same pledge in 2010 and reneged. You may be gullible but please credit it us with a little more nous than to accept Cameron’s palliatives.

    • John C.
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Rely to reply: Dr Redwood, you are remarkably loyal and balanced and temperate, but it seems to me you have sooner or later to recognise that the mass of contributors to your blog, who support and who are your natural allies, have very, very little faith in your leader or the general tenor of your party.

      Reply I could scarcely have failed to notice criticisms of Mr Cameron by a number of contributors here, who are also often the same people as vote UKIP and admire Mr Farage. My view as I have often recorded is I need to be a Conservative MP to secure the referendum we need, and that is what I am doing.

      • turbo terrier
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply.

        A lot of out here have strong feelings about you could help us all alot better if you were in N0 10.

        The cracks are beginning to show and widen at an alarming rate in some strategic areas. It is getting very close to a time for real change and that does not mean giving the nod to his pal next door.

      • Mercia
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

        I need to be a Conservative MP to secure the referendum we need, and that is what I am doing

        >
        I agree, but I would sleep better at night if someone like you was the leader, or just someone a bit older and wiser than Mr Cameron. I am increasingly concerned with Mr Cameron in charge, I did not vote UKIP and I would not vote Labour.

        • Mercia
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

          I am 44, younger than Cameron, but if I was PM I would want people like Mr Redwood advising me.

  13. DaveM
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Without discussing the ins and outs of fiscal and financial control, and transfer of funds to countries that need money, it all boils down to one simple truth.

    Germany, as it always has since its unification 150-odd years ago, wants to be a world power. It has a large population and a great deal of wealth and talent. However, it seems to lack the confidence and ingrained experience required to deal with the ROTW by itself, so once again is trying to drag the rest of a reluctant Europe with it, this time using financial means rather than bullying.

    It would be better going it alone, partnering with the Dutch who ARE good at dealing with the ROTW, in fact probably the best at it.

    We should wish them well, let them go their own way, and sort our own house out. God knows – that’s what the French would do, and probably will when they get a good leader.

    • Peter Van Leeuwen
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      @DaveM: this Dutch man hasn’t figured out what ROTE stands for, but let me take the opportunity to show different perspectives on Dutch self-interest:
      If I were a eurosceptics, I would report to you that in 10 years the Netherlands has doubled it’s exports to non-EU countries (quadrupled it to China). If I were an EU-enthusiast I would report that by far our largest exports are to Germany, Belgium, the UK and France, and that these exports have grown nicely over 10 years.
      It is apparently possible to be in the euro and under a blanket of regulations and survive:)

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

        ROTE should be ROTW

        • Hefner
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          Seriously? What do you expect? UK vs. Rest of the World!

          • Peter Van Leeuwen
            Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

            Thanks!

      • DaveM
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        More to life than exports PvL.

      • John C.
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        Peter, Then it’s all hunky-dory? Only a few British malcontents cannot see the heavenly prospect that the European Superstate offers? Please, please, look around you at what is happening in Europe.

      • petermartin2001
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        Peter Van Leeuwen,

        You still seem to have a mental block about exports and imports. It doesn’t make any sense for Dutch or German people to continually trade in terms of a surplus of IOUs (Euros) but a deficit in real things (cars, food etc)

        Equal trade is good. Unequal trade is bad. The Dutch and German models cannot serve as an example to everyone else. It is arithmetically impossible for everyone to export more than they import.

        Germany and Holland need countries like the UK and USA which import more than they export. In that sense we are the real surplus countries. We have a surplus in the trade of real things.

        But that wouldn’t be allowed in the EZ. That’s a BIG BIG mistake and, ultimately, the reason it is doomed to fail in its present form.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it would be simpler if the Dutch agreed that the Netherlands would become a subject of the German federation, a German Land like Schleswig-Holstein. From what I read most of the Dutch people should be enthusiastic about that prospect, as they no longer want the Netherlands to be an independent sovereign state.

      • Peter Van Leeuwen
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        @Denis: Dear Denis, open your eyes and broaden your mind
        What kind of monetary sovereignty did the Netherlands have before the euro?
        Duisenberg used to call it our 45 minutes of sovereignty (within which to decide if the guilder would follow the DARK exchange rate or not). Our influence now is far greater!

        • Peter Van Leeuwen
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          DARK should be D-Mark

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

          As I say, you might as well apply to join the German Federation.

  14. Mercia
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    After reading his wiki page I didn’t realize Joshka Fischer is an old man now and has retired from politics so I am not so worried anymore.

    • Hefner
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      If you can, read his page on Wikipedia.de: the facts are essentially the same, the comments a bit different, I would guess simply because they were written by a person who lived the events in Germany, likely not an English-speaking person.

      “Verite en deca des Pyrenees, erreur au-dela”.

  15. oldtimer
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Your analysis, with which I agree, points towards a painful process of readjustment for the EZ and the EU. It seems to me that the political, economic and social consequences, as well as the timescales, are unpredictable. It could take five or ten years, but I expect the European political landscape to change significantly over that time. The prospect of Grexit and the negotiations for and the outcome of the forthcoming UK referendum are but two staging posts in the process. Dealing with such changes will require better and more inspired political leadership than has been displayed so far by the EUrocracy.

  16. JJE
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    So the Greek crisis is not over. Nor will it be the last.

    What positive ideas do we have ready to implement alongside those other countries that will now not join the Euro or who will in future leave it? How do we propose to structure a two tier Europe that allows free trade between nation states? How do we let the Eurozone countries go their own way without the rest of us picking up the bill for their folly? Which potential allies are we working with in this endeavour? What is our vision? Who will give it expression?

    Or do we just prefer to moan a lot?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      “What positive ideas do we have ready to implement alongside those other countries that will now not join the Euro or who will in future leave it?”

      There has been no EU treaty change to relieve the 7 non-euro member states of their obligation to join the euro, or to spare new EU member states from that legal obligation, or to allow a country to leave the euro.

  17. Peter Van Leeuwen
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Interesting blog. Combining Mr Fischers’ article with other analysis I’ve read about the Greek tragedy, I draw slightly dif fervent preliminary conclusios (hampered by intermittent WiFi and a mobile phone keyboard):
    * Tusk has gained at the expense of Juncker
    *Less Europe in the sense of a stronger ‘intergovernmental’ Europe (ought to be interesting for the UK)
    *Seemingly lead by German ideas but certainly not a ‘German-dictated’ EU.
    * A method which still achieves unanimity ( core group within core group and checking intermediate results with the larger group.)
    Some smaller nation (Baltic states, Netherlands, . . . ) appeared more hawkish than Merkel and had to be brought on board during the night.
    *The geo-political apects are gaining. This may happen again around the UK referendum.
    * The fact that German and French ways of thinking are so very different is something to be exploited, it is not a bad thing. It could also be exploited by a UK which would decide to remain an EU member.
    *The (more and more political) glue which binds Europe (EU, Eurozone ) together appears still very strong.

    Reply Easier and better for the UK to leave, rather than to complicate this struggle for the soul of the EU by various Euro members with different views.

    • Peter Van Leeuwen
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply: I just don’t expect it (leaving) will happen! Various in between options will be found (created if necessary) and the UK will still be called an EU member, irrespective of what á la carte solution will emerge. Just realise how much intergovernmental effort and hours were spend on keeping 2% of EU GDP inside the inner EU. The UK may become more “outer-EU” for which a nice respectful name would be found, but it would still be an EU member.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        I see, once in the EU there can be no escape regardless of what the people want.
        Isn’t that the definition of tyranny?

    • Graham
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Reply to Reply

      I agree with you John.

      Every comment from PVL always involves ‘staying in the barrel of snakes’ and using (sneaky) politician manouvering to keep from falling behind. Always sounds like a bit of game to him despite the great cost and diversion of precious resources that could be used to good benefit in the rest of the world.

    • Margaret Brandreth-J
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      wow what a reply John . That says it all

  18. Iain Gill
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I’d like to see a table of European countries and for each the number of folk not entitled to European nationality at birth who have been given a European passport by that country, and hence the ability to travel anywhere in Europe (and often elsewere due the way European passports are dealt with worldwide). I am sure the UK would be fairly high up the list but I am quietly confident Germany would be the leader of this table by a mile. A large part of the challenge for the European pseudo state in not just the finances but the immigration tsunami, and one of the aspects of that is individual countries can hand out passports to whoever they like. Germany has been reckless in the vast numbers of German passports it has handed out.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I suspect the UK has been more reckless than Germany, which historically has seen citizenship to be a matter of blood rather than soil. However you cannot reasonably allow and encourage foreigners to come and live and work in your country but then treat them and their descendants as serfs for generation after generation. For a clearly limited period of time, yes, but not in perpetuity.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        Who said treat anyone like a serf?

        Europe hands out far too many passports to folk who were not entitled to EU citizenship by birth

  19. Kenneth
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    A German Europe is precisely what scares many Germans, let alone those outside Germany.

    I suspect there will increasing numbers of pro Europeans across the continent who will be agitating for their country to leave the eu.

  20. brian
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    The Germans like order and they like to be in control. They will ensure that the advantages of a weak euro will be maintained for their exporters.

  21. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “We need to lead Europe” ( source: every UK PM since we were tricked into voting for the Common Market )

    Mr Fischer was born in Germany two years after his parents fled Hungary in 1946 due to what some call the ethnic cleansing of Germans. I guess he is trying to give Germans a sense of national pride. Some hope as a nation and as a people. It is hard for many of we British to place ourselves in German shoes what with the First and Second World Wars. We fell out of love with them.

    I guess many pro-European French politicians talk of France leading Europe.Similarly with Italian politicians though I should think Italians are more street-wise than British, French and Germans. Are likely to laugh at the idea. That laughing would be echoed in the political life of practically all other EU states.
    One wonders what Don Quixotesque language pro-European Spanish politicians use on their electorates. I know one Greek politician stated : “We are Spartans. Even a small force can walk with giants! ” . Well he should have his pocket money stopped for a week.

    Joking aside, it is ironical and paradoxical that the only way pro-EU politicians in their nation states can appeal to and promote Europe is by titillating latent nationalism.

    If politics and geo-politics were rational then we British would sit around a table with other nations in Europe and admit our own respective love of country. Form trade agreements based on the recognition of all our desires to have pride in our own nations. Not this hodge-podge EU.

  22. Ken Moore
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Nick Ridley Mp was saying this 30 years ago describing the Eu as a ‘German run racket’

    NR – I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have…’ the shelters and the chance to fight back, than simply being taken over by… economics. He’ll (Chancellor Kohl) will soon be coming here and trying to say that this is what we should do on the banking front and this is what our taxes should be. I mean, he’ll soon be trying to take over everything.’

    Well isn’t that what the Eu are doing now…for telling the truth Mr Ridley was sacked.

    Perhaps if the Conservative party hadn’t attempted to sideline, bully and sack it’s Eurosceptics we might be in a better position today ?.

    How can Mr Redwood or indeed any right thinking person contemplate staying within the Eu under ANY terms if this is the reality ?

  23. William Long
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    I entirely agree with your very clear analysis and in particular your conclusion: ‘…. the case for UK exit from the EU or that fundamental change of relationship becomes clearer by the day.’
    What I find very difficult to understand and very worrying is the total silence coming from anywhere else on the Eurosceptic side. The electorate will need some pretty robust persuasion if they are likely to vote for anything other than the status quo and I cannot see where it is going to come from at the moment. Of course our leaders may achieve the change in the relationship but but I cannot see any pigs growing wings at the moment.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the word you need is “hegemony”.

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/hegemony

    “Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others:

    ‘Germany was united under Prussian hegemony after 1871’”

    And the German elite are still seeking hegemony, as long chronicled by some concerned Germans who run this website:

    http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/info/

    “”Information on German Foreign Policy” (german-foreign-policy.com) is compiled by a group of independent journalists and social scientists who observe, on an ongoing basis, Germany’s renewed attempts to regain great power status in the economic, military and political arena.”

    However I would make two points, one old and one new.

    The old point is that the longstanding, deeply engrained, hegemonic tendencies of the German elite are not necessarily shared by most ordinary German citizens.

    The new point is that if the many foreign immigrants and their descendants are granted German citizenship and the vote, rather than being treated as serfs, then possibly over time Germany will become less Germanic, and its elite less hegemonically inclined.

    I expect this is what Peter Sutherland really had in mind when he urged the EU to work to destroy the national homogeneity of its member states:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18519395

    Nothing to do with a dislike of the English, as some might have assumed.

  25. Julian
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Just a small point but it may interest you to know that the e-commerce site I run has many Greek customers and since the banking restrictions many of them cannot place orders with us. If this is reflected across the Greek economy as it surely must be it is only a matter of time before the Grexit.

  26. Wireworm
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Let’s hope the new ‘doctrine’ is fully exposed to view in time for the referendum.

  27. Jeffery
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    An interesting fact about the May 2010 Greece bailout I only recently discovered. It was actually the French banking system that was primarily in the firing line, with 40% of Greek debt. Banks in Italy and Spain were relatively unaffected. By some very skilful manoeuvres, France is actually less exposed now than then, while Italy and Spain (as well, of course, as Germany) have large exposure to a Greek default. All at government level now, banks having had their default in the bailout of 2012.

    The French do know how to play not only the Germans, but their southern ‘brethren’.

    • forthurst
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      “By some very skilful manoeuvres, France is actually less exposed now than [May 2010]”

      Does Dominic Strauss-Kahn ring any bells?

  28. CHRISTOPHER HOUSTON
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    “The Black Obelisk ” a lesser known book by Erich Maria Remarque. I am not sure Mr Fischer would like it, nor Mssrs Draghi, Cameron, Corbyn, Obama or Putin. But for all that, it is as true as a novel can be about Germans and Europe and bumbling economics.

  29. English Pensioner
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for drawing attention to this, it doesn’t seem to have mentioned in any of the media and especially not on the BBC.
    I’ve always argued that having lost two wars, Germany is trying to dominate Europe by other means and this seems to be confirmation of my views.

  30. outsider
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood, Thank you for this illuminating post.
    I was shocked to see that under the terms forced on the Greek government, the country is effectively being obliged to sell its quoted private sector to foreign investors as well as selling state-owned assets.
    Greeks are not permitted to use their semi-frozen domestic bank deposits to buy shares traded on the Athens stock exchange but foreigners are free to buy. When the exchange re-opened, share prices fell by an average 23 per cent from already low levels, though they have recovered somewhat since.
    In effect, it is open season for foreigners to buy up Greek business on the cheap, by eliminating domestic demand for shares. The supposed purpose, of course, is to bolster Greek banks balance sheets without help from the ECB. The inevitable result will be to emasculate the remaining Greek private sector and further damage the potential for economic growth and recovery.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      I agree. The message that the ECB has sent out to the entire eurozone is that it isn’t a reliable central bank. There can be be no confidence in any of the peripheral banks, not just in Greece, but in Spain, Italy, Ireland etc too. This is not because of any deficiencies on the part of the banks themselves.

      So why would anyone want to hold any amount of money in, say, a Spanish bank? The sensible course for all businesses in the Eurozone is to switch their banking to Germany or Holland. In the age of the internet the physical location of the bank isn’t that important. This isn’t to do the Germans any favours. It is simply to force them to provide the necessary backing for their favoured currency.

  31. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted August 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    You are recognising that the EU is fast becoming a German Empire. Congratulations. Nicholas Ridley got there 25 years earlier, in 1990, and had to resign for his pains. The reason he had to resign is that he was saying what everybody knew Mrs Thatcher was thinking.

    Perhaps you will now recognise that to limit German power, the number of EU Member States in the Euro Zone must be drastically reduced.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 6, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      It’s rather an odd thing that the French government wanted the euro to contain the power of a reunified Germany, but instead it has become a mechanism for Germany to exercise its power and establish its dominance, and basically it has been able to enlist a clutch of smaller and weaker countries as its willing or unwilling allies in much the same way as it did in the 1930’s.

      I inherited a book called “Insanity Fair” from my father, and in the penultimate paragraph of its Postscript, written in October 1938, it spoke of:

      “The small states, seeing the abyss of betrayal yawning before them, are flying like frightened chicklets to the protecting wings of Mother Germany. They have the man-power, food-power, fuel-power, and the raw materials to make Germany invincible, impregnable and invulnerable. You have left them no other choice.”

      And then concludes by telling its British readers:

      “And as far as I can understand you, you seem to want it like that.”

      The other day when I asked on an Open Europe blog why Cameron was silent about the obvious need for treaty change to allow countries to make an orderly withdrawal from the euro, a possibility already publicly mooted by the Dutch Prime Minister, the answer from the author was that it was not for him to “tell the eurozone what to do”, to which my reply was:

      “… he is saying that he wants a fundamental reform of the EU as a whole, so how can he aspire to anything like that if he is not prepared to “tell the eurozone what to do”, politely of course, when the eurozone already comprises 19 out of 28 EU member states and is legally required to eventually encompass the whole of a further enlarged EU bar just two member states?”

  32. William Grant
    Posted August 9, 2015 at 1:45 am | Permalink

    Germany can only be the pre-eminent country in the EU while its economy is the largest. The UK and Germany are due to swap population levels, according to forecasts, with the UK going up to 80 million and Germany down to 60 million, due to their low birth-rate. Germany won’t even be the pre-eminnent economy in the Eurozone, France will.

  • 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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