The EU doesn’t like democracy very much

I read that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker believes there’s no question of writing down Greek debt. The other Eurozone countries will not agree to that.He reasons that there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties. One cannot exit the euro without leaving the EU.

These brutal statements do at least have the virtue of honesty – assuming they stick to this no bail out position. I quite understand why they have to say there can be no bail out just because Greece has voted for less austerity. Had Mr Juncker said “Greek voters can change the Greek government and its policies, but they cannot make the rest of the EU send them more money” then I would have thought that a tough but understandable stance.

Mr Juncker goes wider, and simply asserts “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties”. That does not just mean they cannot vote themselves another country’s money or change of policy, but they cannot vote for their own change of policy if the custodians of the treaties disagree with them. That is much more worrying and is why some of us do not like the current treaties and think they go too far in controlling countries and throttling democracy.

It is also interesting that the Commission now asserts that continued membership of the Euro is part of the deal, and any country leaving the Euro would also have to quit the EU itself. I am not sure where he can find that explicitly stated in the treaties, though again I see the logic of it. Clearly he thinks it is another threat to Greece that might worry them. We do know, however, that the EU does think it possible for a country to be in the EU but not in the Euro, as the UK and Denmark legally do and as the candidate members of the Euro do.

Mr Juncker’s harsh words imply a growing impatience with all who want special deals or who stand in the way of a uniform policy and discipline for the Euro area. Greek democracy is worryingly unruly and at variance with the Brussels view. The EU has now hit out and told the Greek voters they are wrong and have to think again.

As we watch the collapse of many of the traditional governing parties of the centre left and centre right in the Euro area we can expect more of these conflicts between countries struggling to be democratic again and a Commission telling them they can have any policy they like as long as it is the EU one. The irony is that in a way Mr Juncker is right. For the Euro to work they all have to accept its cruel discipline and live under its rules. That is why some of us said in the years before its launch they should first create a democratic government of Euroland so the public could have their say and have a choice. To have a single currency people and governments of the founder states have to accept financial and moral obligations to each other. Leaving democracy at the level of the Euro states, but taking much of the power to the centre denies effective democratic change, busts open the old party system, leaves many feeling very dissatisfied with politics, and may in the Greek case do considerable damage to the economy and banking system of the Euro area.

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  1. Gary
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    “There’s no question of
    writing down Arkansas
    debt. The other
    American states will
    not agree to that. There
    can be no democratic
    choice against the
    constitution . One
    cannot exit the dollar
    without leaving the USA.”

    Reply Arkansas voters help choose an elected government for the USA. That does not happen in the EU.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      Indeed. The EU, unlike the US, is not even a sensible demos with common interests, history, culture, legal structures and language. Even if there were an elected EU government it would not be democratic in any real sense.

    • Richard1
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      States can’t run deficits in the US. If they run out of money they can either beg the federal govt for subsidies or cut costs. Then people move – to states which arnt bust like Texas.

      • John E
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        How has California run up $26 billion or more in debt then? Of course US States can run deficits.

        • Richard1
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          Yes but not for the account of the federal taxpayer, that’s the difference.

      • John E
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I’ve done a bit more reading. Most US States (except Vermont) have state laws that require them to balance their operating expenditure. They are free to borrow for capital spending. Not so different to Gordon Brown’s golden rule and we know how that worked out.

        • acorn
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

          You need to understand the diffidence between a currency issuer and a currency user for the system to make sense. The US federal government issues the currency, the States use the currency, they can’t spend new money into existence, they have to raise taxes or borrow it. The federal government does not have to borrow from anyone. Politicians want you to believe that the government has to borrow money, like a household, not so. For instance, the UK government doesn’t have to issue Gilts, it chooses to do so. The so called government debt is all being saved in the private sector. This money system is a lot simpler than you think it is. Politicians and their spiv city of London sponsors, don’t want you to know that.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink

            Of course the UK government doesn’t have to issue gilts, or borrow existing money in any other way; it is the choice of the type of politicians we foolishly keep electing that they will habitually spend more money than they can easily extract from us in taxes, or raise by other means such as sales of surplus assets or of various legal rights, for example mineral extraction rights and telecommunication spectrum rights, and far more often than not their over-spending is not for any responsible purpose but for the irresponsible purpose of trying to buy our votes, competing with each other to try to bribe us with our own money.

            And of course the UK government doesn’t have to borrow existing money if it can arrange for the Bank of England to create new money and feed it across to the Treasury for the politicians to spend; and if the power to borrow existing money to fund their habitual over-spending is a recipe for irresponsible and self-interested behaviour of the part of those politicians, as has repeatedly proved to be the case, then the power to arrange for unlimited supplies of new money for them to spend is far worse; of course there might be some occasions when the politicians used that power for responsible purposes, regulating the economy or dealing with unexpected crises, but in general it would be in their character to habitually abuse it for their own irresponsible and ultimately destructive purposes.

            I watched Question Time last week, and there was Peter Hain, and also some chap from Plaid Cymru, feeding the audience with the most appalling deceitful and misleading rubbish; these are the types we will always get seeking power, (wordsleft out ed)unless there is a near miraculous transformation of our democratic system; and you really think that somebody like Peter Hain should be able to routinely order up more money because thinks he hasn’t yet spent enough to bribe the voters?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      So I take it that you want us to be legally subjugated within a European federation in the same way that Arkansas is legally subjugated with the US federation; and next you’d be following Lincoln in declaring a War to Preserve the Union if any country ever tried to leave the EU federation.

      • Timaction
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        We are already legally subjugated to the EU as the legacy parties signed us up to treaties doing so whilst lying to the electorate on their true intentions. We can now see and hear with our own eyes and ears the consequences of free movement of 485, 000,000 million people as well as those from the rest of the world. Health crisis starting to emerge, housing crisis, education crisis, overcrowding, congestion and NO prospect of any renegotiation as Junker, Merkel and Hollande have told dithering Mr Cameron who will spin up to the election. Only one party will look after the interests of the British public by telling the truth and they wont give away £25 billion in EU and foreign aid whilst our pensioners can’t heat their homes.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Not so; the UK Parliament is still the supreme legal authority for the UK, the EU is still no more than an international organisation established by treaty between its sovereign member states, and the EU treaties and EU laws have no legal force in the UK beyond that granted by the UK Parliament through its Acts.

        • Hope
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Plus additional payments to the EU in billions while trying to the public it would not be paid. This week we saw the true ineffective use of the European Arrest Warrant. (examples given of European visitors/migrants to UK committing serious crimes ed) How does the EAW make us safe? How does it help Teresa May in her pitiful efforts to deport foreign criminals? How many have ran off before deportation? Dopey MPs voting for the EAW, while serial PM ratter did not allow them the debate he promised in parliament! Finally the EU imposes more sanctions on Russia, a mess which the EU started by helping rebels overthrow an elected legitimate president!

      • Gary
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        just pointing out the irony of those euroskeptics who are often fans of the anglosphere and who worship the Union of States called the USA. The only real difference between the EU and the USA , is the states in the latter union have been completely subsumed, to the point that they are almost meaningless on their own.

    • John E
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Arkansas actually did default on its debt in 1933. It was supported by Federal funds for two years, introduced a sales tax, and very gradually recovered.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      The USA is a very good example of what needs to be done to make Euroland work. Yes, the States in the USA are currency users so it is fair enough that they run balanced budgets. Just like local councils in the UK. The Federal Government is the currency issuer so it isn’t similarly constrained.

      The Federal Government can do whatever it likes, subject to the considerations that it will generate too much inflation if it spends too much/taxes too little. Or too much recession if it spend too little/ taxes too much.

      John recently said “I do not see an obvious way of squaring this painful circle or reconciling these two very divergent views. Trying to resolve the two visions means deciding between a transfer union that might work, and a disciplined Euro which means more austerity and more bankruptcies.

      The obvious way is there for all to see across the Atlantic. The dollar is a very disciplined currency, despite what many might claim. If it weren’t so, there wouldn’t be any desire to run to it for safe haven when the economic storm clouds are brewing.

      But can we imagine the Germans understanding that? I can’t! They are good at engineering but hopeless at economics! Yet putting together an economic system that works is rather like engineering a car. It does have to function effectively. If everything stalls then there does have to be a way of restarting the engines! Yet the Greeks and Spanish cannot kick-start their economies. That is “verboten!”.

  2. Mark B
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    One cannot exit the euro without leaving the EU.”

    Not true !

    Whist there is no mechanism for leaving the Euro, there is no stated article in the treaties that stipulates that leaving the Euro means EU exit. This is just scare tactics. But who is the most scared ?

    “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties”

    Exactly ! And that was, and is the aim of the EU. To destroy democracy and the peoples ability to influence political decision making. ie An Authoritarian Federal State.

    For the Euro to work they all have to accept its cruel discipline and live under its rules.

    And what of Scotland and the Pound ? Will they still obey fiscal rules, or will the Nats try to spend what they like, only to be stopped ? At which point, they will blame Westminster / England and say that an independent Scotland could do what it liked and that the Scots should leave. But they won’t, because you will just cave in and give more money like, Cameron has done with Ulster.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:08 am | Permalink

      Oh. Good morning.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Indeed that is probably what will happen.

    • Peter van leeuwen
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      @Mark B: There is a “simple” way for Greece to leave the euro: It is to leave the EU and at the same time re-apply for membership. Obviously Greece meets the Copenhagen criteria and will be re-admitted, also because the EU want to have Greece as a member.

      • John E
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        But all new members must commit to join the Euro?
        Better to revisit the Euro treaty and draw up some rules to allow countries to make an orderly exit.

        • know-dice
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

          May be PvL should read “Catch 22”

        • Peter van leeuwen
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          @John E: Indeed, but the EU cannot force any country to join the ERM (pre-condition) before any particular date. See how long Sweden lives outside the euro already, with no opt-out like the UK.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Could you please point me too the relevant section of any or all the EU treaties that states that what must happen if any Member Country wishes to leave the Euro.

        We all, or at least most of us, know by what means and methods a country like the UK can withdraw from the EU and maintain access to the Single Market (EEA). ie Article 50.

        I await your kind reply.

        PS If you cannot, then you are no wiser than, Junker, Merkel or anyone else. CMD is taken as given regarding wisdom, regardless of the issue.

        • Peter van leeuwen
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          @Mark B: I suppose (not having read through the TEU ) that there is no article THAT you can leave the euro, so the international agreement with other democracies is is that you can join (under conditions) but no exit is provided for. Other countries will rightly claim that country X (imagine X=Greece for instance) is not allowed to leave.
          To that you may add interpretations like that of Draghi (euro= irreversible) but that doesn’t make it law of course.

      • Boudicca
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        It is a condition of membership, for all new members of the EU, that they sign up to join the Euro.

        The only countries which have an opt out are the UK and Denmark.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Obviously in principle the EU treaties could be changed to create a mechanism for a country to make an orderly withdrawal from the euro while staying in the EU. But back in late 2010 when Cameron had the chance to demand such an EU treaty change as part of a quid pro quo for the EU treaty change being demanded by Merkel he declined to make use of that “golden opportunity”. Then later when the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte publicly suggested that the treaties should be changed in that way Cameron remained silent and offered no support for that proposal. There is only one rational conclusion that can be drawn from this:
      that Cameron is content for entry into the euro to be a one way street, a trap, just as he is content for all new EU member states to be put under a treaty obligation to join the euro at the earliest opportunity, as they are.

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        @Denis Cooper,
        I could imagine that in the long term (5 or 10 years) a treaty change as you mention can still be made. That would be after the fiscal union and banking union will have gained much more strength and any danger of a domino effect doesn’t exist.

      • Mark B
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink


        The whole thing is a trap. That is why I ask for our commitment to, EVER CLOSER UNION, be withdrawn. I don’t care about the rest 😉

        Once a country can opt both in and out of a currency union, the argument can be extended to other parts of the EU treaties. This undermines the ‘ratchet effect’ so beloved by our EU and EU loving masters.

  3. Peter van leeuwen
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I cannot find the statement: “There can be no democratic choice against the European treaties” and wonder whether this may be a bad translation. I do read: “on ne peut pas sortir de l’euro sans sortir de l’Union européenne” which is not a new statement:
    As the current treaties have no provision for leaving the euro, this would require a treaty change. There is however a treaty provision for any country to leave the EU (article 50).
    This simply means that a “democratic choice against the EU treaties” implies a democratic choice to leave the EU. So this is not lacking of democracy, but democracies respecting the international treaties they sign up for. I imagine that, just as any country can not unilaterally change the NATO treaty, no country can unilaterally change the EU treaty.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      In most cases the voters never signed up to these treaties, they were never even asked and when they were they were lies to over their implications. Or told to vote again.

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        @Lifelogic: In almost all cases a referendum is held before a country joins the EU. The Dutch were not lied to, you cannot make assumptions on the quality of public information in other countries, based on the information fed to the British public. If you look carefully, you’ll see that “voting again” is a national initiative after obtaining certain concessions in negotiations. You may not think much of such concessions, but that doesn’t change the principle.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

          @PvL; “In almost all cases a referendum is held before a country joins the EU.”

          Peter, you’re having a laugh!

          How many countries held referendums before before the treaties of Maastricht and Lisbon (also known as the EU Constitution), just to name two treaties that substantially changed how the EEC/EC/EU worked. Also, when voters were asked about the latter treaty they were simply told by Eurcrats to vote again until the ‘correct’ answer was arrived at. In very few member countries, whose membership pre-dates the Maastricht treaty, have the people ever been asked directly if they want to be members of the “EU”, the old EEC yes, the EC/EU (pre and post Lisbon) no…

          “after obtaining certain concessions in negotiations”

          Well apart from title, there are very few substantive differences between the abandoned EU Constitution and the Lisbon treaty, in effect they are one and the same in intent and function, any concession was merely to rename the document so that certain member country governments could get it through their own parliaments and/or constitutions without any (further) need to hold referendums.

          You may think highly of such a concession, but that doesn’t change the principle that in most member countries the people have not been asked directly about treaty changes that fundamentally change what their sovereign nations are signed up to.

          • Peter van leeuwen
            Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

            @Jerry: If you want a referendum for each and every treaty change, that is not the way countries want to work, in which, unlike the UK, parliament is a proper and proportional reflection of public opinion. Some Dutch parties are actually dead against referendums, which undermine parliamentary representation and makes them think too much of Germany 1934 and 1936, the misuse of referendums by populist dictators. You obviously want to live in Switzerland.

          • Jerry
            Posted January 31, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

            @PvR; “If you want a referendum for each and every treaty change, that is not the way countries want to work”

            Err Ireland had to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, it was required under their constitution, they votes “No”, the eurocrtats in your beloved Brussels told Ireland to hold another and this time arrive at the correct answer, ho-hum…

            The EU could, for the good of democracy, insist on member countries holding referendums on EU treaty changes, for that matter they could have allowed a popular vote election for the new president of the commission last year, they didn’t…

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted February 1, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

            @Jerry: I dont agree with your account of what happened in Ireland – it had negotiations with some result (e.g. on the number of commissioners) and only the Irish government can decide on a referendum, those decisions are national decisions.

            With regard to voting for an EC president, EU democracy isn’t that evolved yet. It compares better with the UK, where in the 2010 elections you had two spitzenkandidats (party leaders) who could hope to be heading the largest party at election day, but for who nobody (apart from a few thousand in their own constituency) could vote.

          • Jerry
            Posted February 2, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

            @PvL; “I dont agree with your account of what happened in Ireland”

            That is your prerogative, the fact is the EU could not accept a No vote, if they could the Lisbon treaty would have died there and then.

            “With regard to voting for an EC president, EU democracy isn’t that evolved yet.”

            So lets get this right, after 60 years, countless treaties, countless ‘promises’, there is still no real democracy and no sight of it beyond a parliament that can’t actually act in the same way as any other democratic parliament on earth – says it all really yet people like you seem to go to the ends of the earth to defend such a situation.

            I do not want it, might not like it, but if the EU was actually a properly democratic federal state (the often suggested USofE) I would accept it, I would make the best of it, BUT even though we have been promised EU democracy for 36 years -since the first MEPs were directly elected by the popular vote in 1979- we are no further along the road despite so many treaty changes etc. although we are moving ever closer to an undemocratic federal like monoculture.

        • petermartin2001
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

          Lifelogic is right. The referendums weren’t about genuine democracy. Politicians only allowed them when they expected they would get the result they wanted. If they didn’t get it first time they’d change the wording and so back again and again until they did get what they wanted. ie that rubber stamp.

          On that basis, the England football team could have won the World Cup! OK, so we lose to the Italians and Uruagay, so let’s ignore those results and have a replay. It may have taken a while, but sooner or later we’d be able to get past most teams that way! Even the Germans don’t beat us every time!

    • John E
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      I agree that I don’t see the statement that is attributed in the original. The wording in the original Le Figaro interview is more considered.

      The position about leaving the EU if leaving the Euro is not at all as clear as Mr Juncker states. The issue is that the Euro treaty simply does not provide for a country to exit as it was not envisaged as a possibility. There is no reason why a treaty change cannot be negotiated. The statement that this inevitably means leaving the EU is a political bargaining position designed to intimidate the Greeks, not a proper legal interpretation.

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        @John E: I agree with you. Some strong positions are taken, mind you, from both sides. All part of the negotiations. If the EU wants, there would always be the possibility of some infamous EU-fudge to make a departure from the euro possible, without really being forced to leave the EU.
        Up to now, both parties want to find a solution, and personally I don’t mind that the EU will have to be made to think through better ways of helping Greece. I would almost add that the overly capitalistic Anglo-Saxon IMF approach hasn’t worked too well.

        • John E
          Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

          Peter: I would say that the Anglo Saxon response is normally more pragmatic and that it is German intransigence that is preventing a sensible restructuring of Greek debt.
          This is rather ironic given that Germany benefitted from those Anglo Saxons forgiving German debt on four occasions in the last century between1924 and 1953. We learnt the lessons from the French intransigence at Versailles.

          • Peter van leeuwen
            Posted January 31, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

            @John E: Well, I agree again. Too dogmatic. If German and Dutch prime-ministers knew 5 years ago that this kind of long-term hardship would be caused in Greece, then they obviously were misleading. If they didn’t know (what I suspect) then they should acknowledge that the Troika policy has not worked as expected and should be open to having a a different approach tried out.
            That is basically what the Greeks now strive for and they have some supporters across the EU.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Peter. Please ignore my comment above.

      Yes, they can leave the EU via Article 50 and reapply. Trouble is, upon reapplying, they obliged to join the Euro. Tell me, do think it such a good idea to commit the same stupid mistake more than once ?

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

        @Mark B: The date to join the ERM (pre-condition before joining the euro) cannot be enforced. This allows countries (like Sweden, but also the post-Lisbon Croatia) to take their time.

    • Boudicca
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      NATO doesn’t seek to govern member nations.

      The EU acts like a government, but has no democratic legitimacy to do so, since the electorates of many member states were never given the opportunity to vote in a Referendum.

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        @Boudicca: You may be of that opinion, but that doesn’t change my argument against unilateral amendment of an international treaty.

    • Mondeo Man
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

      We don’t need to translate to realise that the real issue of disliking democracy is within the Tory party.

      Grant Shapps rules out any deal with Ukip.

      Let’s rewind a bit:

      ‘I welcome anybody, regardless of where they’ve been in the past —with the exception of extreme parties,’ Shapps said in response to a question about Amjad Bashir’s alleged membership of the Respect party.

      So Shapps (and his incompetent party) aknowledge that Ukip are not extremists.

      The Tories would sooner go into coalition with the less popular Lib Dems than (by Tory admission) non-extremist Ukip.

      So WHERE is the democracy in that then, Dr Redwood ???

      We keep telling you. The issue isn’t lack of democracy in the EU. It is lack of democracy at home.

  4. Rita Webb
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    And when did the UK have a democratic government? Here is something for an MP/lord to consider as he enjoys yet another tax payer subsidised brandy and cigar. Remember he can puff away in the comfort of one of Westminster’s many bars. As unlike the people he supposed to represent, if he wants to smoke, he does not have to go outside and into the cold. He should have plenty of friendly faces to share his thoughts with too. As his wife, kids etc will most likely be around being that they are either an MP themselves or on the payroll doing his admin.

    Reply You are not describing where I work – I not see MPs smoking cigars in the building of know of no subsidised ones!

    • Rita Webb
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      OK but MPs are exempt from the smoking ban in bars are they not?

      What I am driving at is that the UK is governed by an undemocratic elite. Apart from smoking ban MPs seem reluctant to take up a NEST pension. Is it because they know its best not to take on the annuity/investment risks themselves? Similarly I do not think any of them will transfer out of the final salary scheme and take advantage of not buying an annuity. You all seem unconcerned about the abuse of postal voting and voters being locked out of polling stations. While most galling of all MPs seem to be drawn from a self selecting elite, especially on the Labour side, who have no real life experience.

      As an aside looking at an article he has written for “Handelsblatt”, Mr Tsipras seems to be more of a conservative than your lot. For instance SYRIZA believes in balanced budgets and not in borrowing. While he also seem s committed to going after the very people who caused all of this mess in the first place. I seem to remember the man who caused the biggest insolvency in the UK still draws a pension from a tax payer supported bank.

      “Our task is not to confront our partners. It is not to secure larger loans or, equivalently, the right to higher deficits.
      Our target is, rather, the country’s stabilization, balanced budgets and, of course, the end of the grand squeeze of the
      weaker Greek taxpayers in the context of a loan agreement that is simply unenforceable.”

      “However, let me say that it was not SYRIZA that incubated the cleptocracy which today pretends to strive for ‘reforms’, as
      long as these ‘reforms’ do not affect their ill-gotten privileges. We are ready and willing to introduce major reforms for
      which we are now seeking a mandate to implement from the Greek electorate, naturally in collaboration with our
      European partners.”

      Reply I don’t use the bars but I don’t think they are exempt from the smoking laws!

      • John E
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

        Parliament, though technically exempt, voted to follow the smoking rules in 2006.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        Tories are very keen on internet voting either as they know that more will vote and not for the Tories and especially for strike ballots as they want less to vote in them when they bring in the 50% rule for industrial action. Not in their manifesto, but you can be sure after their kicking by NHS workers it will happen if they get in again with massive dilution of the private sector workers rights too, as they have have promised industry bosses in secret talks.
        The backlash will be people less willing to do any work and who can blame them. The poor should not have to compete with other poor for jobs in a race to the bottom and for sure they will not. The British ones anyway. More immigration will be required not less.

        • Edward2
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Strange that it was it the Labour party that allowed and encouraged mass immigration Baz.

          And they still have a policy of open door pro EU immigration.
          Careful who you vote for if you want less labour market competition and better pay for the workers.

    • David Murfin
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      And the brandy? Take your time and write a coherent answer, please.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      “And when did the UK have a democratic government?”

      Well, the UK had a sort of democratic government when most other countries across Europe had descended into outright dictatorship, for a start. But then your efforts to defend the EU usually take the form of attacks on our own country.

      • Rita Webb
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        If you have read my earlier stuff you will know I am not an EU defender. What I point out is that the biggest problems facing the UK are created by the “servants of the people” in Westminster not Brussels e.g. Non EU immigration, Iraq, Afghanistan and money printing.

        Perhaps I was a little too hard on MPs as upon reflection the DM has reported that the House of Lords require a higher standard of tax payer subsidised booze to the “cheap” stuff provided in the Commons bars. Can you tell me of any other job in the UK that provides subsidised alcohol, especially one that pays around seventy thousand a year plus expenses?

        • Lifelogic
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          Plus one of the best pensions going.

          About 7 million of subsidy to the bars and restaurants PA it seems. Still if it distracts them from passing new idiotic, interfering laws perhaps it is worth it.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          Plenty of high level jobs still come with booze which is not just subsidised but completely free, provided that it can conceivably be put down on expenses along with meals and entertainments.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Perhaps a shame we cannot get back to a few more cigar smoking prime ministers rather more like Churchill. I cannot imagine he would interfere in every single tiny aspect of people’s lives, homes, work, diet …… in the way the coalition and the EU constantly does.

      • Bazman
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        He certainly interfered the big aspects of many lives here and abroad and the ‘interference’ you so often quote is for the better.
        An industrial food system this country being against any form of regulation or control on the diet of the population whilst feeding them ever increasing amount of processed sugar and fats leading to massive health problems and the related cost is OK is it. They have a ‘choice’ of what to eat?
        Pressing and regulating developers to built better quality more energy efficient homes instead of shoebox like hovels? For maximum profit to themselves and non one else?
        Car safety and crash test standards? The safer driver should have a choice of cheaper less safe cars?
        Safety at work. An agreement between workers and employees like pay should be.
        Elf an safety for you preventing wealth creation by self serving socialists the HSE.
        The deluded list goes on costing the individual and state a fortune with no benefit for anyone preventing anyone from even leaving their house.
        You would think that any government that pays so much in benefits to its citizens should be interfering more not less?
        More do nothing know nothing ideology made even worse by a lack of interest in any advancement despite having internet access.
        Is this another lefty conspiracy that educates little on true facts?

    • Qubus
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      I think that the lady is obliquely referring to subsidised food and alcohol.

  5. Leslie Singleton
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Best I understand one cannot join the EU these days without joining the Euro so it is not too far fetched that if one leaves the Euro one has to exit the EU. And as things have been constructed it is also clear that democracy on one side only of a Treaty cannot change anything. It is these core basic realities as things stand that make the whole thing stink. We have to pray that Greece leaves both the Euro and the EU and that they then rapidly zoom back to health like us after ERM (Dear John–You didn’t like my effort the other day but although you’d never guess it today the new Greek PM was used once to say that he wanted out of the Euro–Mind you he says a lot of things and he’ll need money soon.

  6. Lifelogic
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    As you say “These brutal statements do at least have the virtue of honesty” the EU has always been a project for bureaucrats, big business and the establishment against the tax payers, small business and voters who have all had to pay for this economic anti-democratic nonsense.

    All helped along in the UK by the EU, green crap and ever bigger government propaganda unit – the BBC. Similar organisations exist or have been bought across the EU. Voters are finally seeing through it all.

    • Bazman
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      What is green crap? You do not even know, but vacuously keep coming out with it.
      Sustainable clan energy is what I Presume you mean though could include any attempts to limit pollution including car emissions as you see the cost as to great for the benefits achieved.
      Name some. We want some specifics and credible factional information out of you for a change. Not the black propaganda you constantly post as facts you own. The BBC often says the same as the other channels. You want this stopped?

  7. Richard1
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    It is quite clear that it is possible to cut special deals with the EU as John Major showed at Maastricht, by securing opt outs from the only two significant components of that treaty – the euro and the social chapter (Labour of course foolishly opted back into the social chapter). We also saw this when both France and Germany blew through the theoretical 3% budget deficit limit with no consequences. And we see it again now with QE by the ECB – monetary financing of govt borrowing by one remove. It just depends who’s asking for the special deal. They may well tell the Greeks to take a running jump, and must be tempted to do so pour encourager les autres. But they need the UK’s market and money so, if Mr Cameron gets a majority, the prospect for a good renegotiation by the UK is very positive.

    • David Murfin
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      If you are happy for a renegotiation in which the strong are allowed to break the rules, rather than a general agreement to change the rules, then your comment makes sense.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Major was in a position to veto the whole of the Maastricht Treaty if he didn’t get that “special deal”, but the Greeks have no such legal power available to them in negotiations over its debt.

    • formula57
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Yet consider that none of the “special deals” that have been cut for anyone amount to a repudiation of the fundamental treaties and ideals and objectives of the EU project, they only provide indulgences pro tem and do not substantially interfere with the onward march overall. What Mr Cameron must obtain and has been told by Dr Frau Merkel he cannot have is fundamental treaty change.

      • Richard1
        Posted January 30, 2015 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        I’d say the same if I was Merkel. In any negotiation both sides will start by laying out a position. With a referendum backstop Cameron will have the same ace as Major held when negotiating Maastricht – if the deal isnt good enough the UK may leave.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 10:26 am | Permalink

          An ace which Major would never have played, as the leaders of the other countries knew perfectly well, and which Cameron would do his utmost to ensure would never be played.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    None of this rhetoric seems to bode well for our so called re-negotiation does it.

    Seems to me that if you are in the EuroZone.
    Its not just your own Government who borrows in your/taxpayers name, but other Countries can borrow in your name as well !

    What a huge mess all of our Governments and politicians are making of Europe.

    Civil unrest seems to be getting closer and closer, as the people get more and more frustrated.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Indeed – but have we not had civil unrest in many places already?

    • DaveM
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      “None of this rhetoric seems to bode well for our so called re-negotiation does it.”

      I think it’s brilliant news – if Mr Cameron is told off like a little boy by Juncker and his boss Merkel, that’s paramount to the UK being told to get back in its box and do as it’s told. Who can think of a better way to get the UK public’s backs up?!

      OT – I must confess Mr Cameron gave a fairly good interview on BBC Spotlight last night, giving straight and solid answers, addressing local issues which are of real concern to local people, and leaving party politics at home. If he could do that more often he might actually garner some support.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      alan jutson; “Its not just your own Government who borrows in your/taxpayers name, but other Countries can borrow in your name as well !”

      Hardly a surprise considering the intention of the EZ and the Lisbon treaty are to (eventually) create a federal EU…

  9. DaveM
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I have to admit that, whilst I’m glad the people of Greece voiced their dissatisfaction with the pro-EU centrist parties, I have been slightly confused as to exactly how they think they’re going to get away with just not coughing up.

    Attempting to explain it to my son, I likened it to me borrowing £1m from the bank, chucking in my job, borrowing more to finance my life, then expecting the other members of the bank to pay it back for me. He was as baffled by it as I am! He rightly pointed out that the other customers could do the same thing if I was allowed to get away with it, and drew some startling parallels with the early 1920s in Germany – he also rightly pointed out that whereas the French had the resources to invade the Ruhr, where was the EU’s muscle? A bit of paper?

    As for Juncker and his assumed authority, it’s a sad indictment of modern Europe and modern politics in general that this silly little man ………………………………………………………………… has the unelected power to dictate such things on the same day that we commemmorate the passing of Winston Churchill. I hope our Westminster clique have a look at themselves in the mirror today and have a think about what they might aspire to. I just hope they have pictures of Mr Churchill in their office and not pictures of the little Luxemburger.

    • Qubus
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I think that the other members of the EU forget all too quickly what they all owe to us. I refer of course to WW2.

  10. Peter van leeuwen
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    After Martin Schulz, another social democrat will meet the Greeks today, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, my favourite Dutch minister. But as he will carry the message from 18 other eurozone members and may not have a lot of wiggle room. Still I believe that some creative way forward will be found. And of course, the Greeks will lobby many EU members individually which may help in the process.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

      @PvL; “After Martin Schulz, another social democrat will meet the Greeks today, Jeroen Dijsselbloem”

      Well he got a cordial reception according to media reports but little else! The more I keep hearing the EU sounding like a stuck record on all this the more I suspect that the EU/ECB have all but written Greece and its debt off – they are sounding tough, but they will likely not only engineer a Grexit from the EZ but from the EU as well, if for no other reason than as a warning to other EZ area countries not to consider going down the same route.

      • Peter van leeuwen
        Posted January 31, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

        @Jerry: Don’t forget that Dijsselbloem has to carry the message from a group of countries (the eurogroup), not the EU. As a person he might even have sympathy for the Greek plight, but he was there as a group chairman. I still hope that some way forward will be found during the next month, I actually expect that will happen.

        • Jerry
          Posted January 31, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

          @PvR; “Don’t forget that Dijsselbloem has to carry the message from a group of countries”

          Your point being what exactly, negotiator or messenger he was politely rebuffed…

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted February 1, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

            @Jerry: I actually think that the EZ will move. On BBC – Hardtalk Pierre Moscovici (EC) is already moving a little. The EU cannot ignore the democratic vote in Greece, Greece cannot ignore the commitments it made, so there will be movement from both Greek government en Eurozone (after a lot of theater and grandstanding)

  11. JoolsB
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    “The EU doesn’t like democracy very much”……………………… that’s a bit rich John seeing as the UK doesn’t either. The UK is in no position to criticise anyone about not being democratic when it is anything but a democracy for 50 million plus people living in it – pot calling kettle springs to mind!

  12. petermartin2001
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Once upon a time there was a farmer and a fisherman. They decided it made sense to trade. So every week they swapped 5 fish for 5 coconuts.

    The fisherman sometimes had a problem supplying his 5 fish so some weeks he would give only 4 fish and his neighbour would hand over 5 coconuts as always. The coconut farmer was running a surplus! However, the next week the fisherman would hand over 5 fish and the farmer would hand over 4 coconuts and they were all square again. So we can see that everytime someone ran a surplus they were either repaying a previous debt or creating a new one for their neighbour. Conversely when they ran a deficit they were either allowing a previous debt to be repaid or creating a new one for themselves.

    After a time it developed into a habit that the fisherman would swap 4 fish for 5 coconuts. The farmer decided he like to run his surplus. After a few years the fisherman was so heavily in debt that he couldn’t possibly pay. The farmer didn’t want several hundred fish anyway!

    But the farmer both insisted that he very much liked running at a surplus and he also insisted that the fisherman should repay his debts. The fisherman argued this was impossible. He could only repay his debts over a period of time if it was agreed that the farmer should switch from running a surplus to running a deficit.

    So who was right? The farmer or the fisherman?

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      The farmer should have carried out due diligence. The Fisherman should have either cut back or, sourced his supply of coconuts from someone else. Or at least threatened to.

      At the end of the day, they are both crap businessmen and deserve each other.

    • Stephen Berry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Peter, neither were right. Even the generous landlord of my local pub knows that you are only allowed to run your tab for so long.

  13. Richard1
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Off topic but there was yet another BBC platform for the absurd far left Labour MP Peter Hain today – he is promoting a book and the BBC is clearly giving him a helping hand. hain was given a pathetic interview by ………………….. James Naughtie. Hain was not asked why Labour: ran deficits through the boom years so we went into the financial crisis with a 5% structural deficit; sold half the nations golds at a 30 year low; allowed leverage in the banking system to rise to 50x so the banks were insolvent; engineered a boom in welfare and other public sector expenditures whilst private sector employment stagnated; increased spending in the NHS by 3x but implemented no reforms so we have much poorer health outcomes than comparable countries; started a war in Iraq on a class prospectus and implemented disastrous mission creep in Afghanistan. The BBC might want to assist the like of Peter Hain in denying it but the last Labour govt was perhaps the most disastrous in British history.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      @Richard1; “Hain was not asked why Labour: ran deficits through the boom years so we went into the financial crisis with a 5% structural deficit [etc. etc.]”

      I don’t recall Peter Hain ever being Chancellor (or even being in any governmental HMT post), so surely asking such a question to him would be a bit like asking a Bricklayer why the water taps are the wrong way around in the bathroom… Oh and as for book reviews/plugs, I have seen quite a few Tories having the same sort of interview and they have never been asked such questions unless their book is about such issues.

    • petermartin2001
      Posted February 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      Hain was not asked why Labour: ran deficits through the boom years …

      I don’t know if Peter Hain would have got the right answer, had he been asked, but the Brown Labour government ran deficits largely for the same reason the Cameron Conservative government runs them.

      That is to cover the cost of net imports. Money drains out of the economy to pay for them and the government puts it back by deficit spending.

  14. Iain Moore
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties”

    Exactly the point I have been making for a long time. We have been disenfranchised by having our sovereignty locked away in treaties we can’t change. Parliament no longer represents us but represents Brussels to us. This was no better shown than in Cameron’s big speech on immigration, where rather than form policy as to the wishes of the British people, he presented to us what Brussels’s and Germany felt was acceptable to them.

    I am a bit surprised that Juncker is quite so brazen in how much they have beggared our democracies, may be they feel they can give their arrogance some airing , safe in the knowledge that the EU project has gone so far there is no retreat from it, especially with the political classes they are up against who are frit and pretty second rate.

  15. stred
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    The Greek finance minister recently said that it would be impossible to exit the euro, as all the money would drain out into euro accounts outside. He added- Unless it was done overnight. Now the banks are losing deposits anyway, as the possibilty of an exit is seen, while the arguments go on. If the country is drained and the wealth is held in euro accounts outside, then only the small depositors will be converted to new Drachmas and the outside account holders will be able to buy Greek assets at a discount. It would be interesting to know where the politicians have put their savings.

  16. Douglas Carter
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    That’s an interesting exchange between a reporter for Spiegel Online International with Wolfgang Schäuble and it also draws on comments attributed to Juncker. The piece dates from June 2012.

    Early in the piece are claims as to how and why the Euro came about and Warner’s piece in today’s Telegraph puts on a different emphisis…

    …but both chronologically place the inception of a Single Currency firmly in the very late 80s – early 90s timescale. A single currency has been a parallel and indispensable part of the project which became the EU since it was first mooted a century ago. There’s both pretence and lack of knowledge in observers who can’t make that link. Whether any formal logic is there (and, as with all things EU – logic need not be considered) the EU and the Single Currency are pages in the same book. The currency wasn’t a recent-years add-on. Senior UK Civil Servants and Members of Parliament can be quoted as discussing it right from the early 1960s.

    From link:-

    ‘To call it [the Euro] a miscarriage is nonsense. But it’s clear that we wanted a political union at the time’

    No. It isn’t clear. It wasn’t clear, no senior EC would acknowledge that debate at that time and when clearly and unambiguously requested in strident terms, figures such as Jacques Delors would deny political Union in Single Currency terms outright.

    ‘Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker was right when he said, at the time, that the euro would prove to be the father of future European developments.’

    Or – it doesn’t actually matter if the inception of a policy is introduced by deception, or that the policy turns out to be ruinously costly or socially or structurally damaging, the project will continue even badly because it’s more important than the electorates it damages.

    ‘So far, member states have almost always had the final say in Europe. This cannot continue. In key political areas, we have to transfer more powers to Brussels, so that each nation state cannot block decisions.’

    ..and there it is in black and white. Electorates cannot be permitted to utilise their votes to enact change for themselves. The project itself – in terms of senior influential figures – is openly a project for the abrogation of proper democracy. These are dangerous extremists wielding a dogmatic evangelistic power, of which they only demand more. They have to be stopped, and the sooner the better.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    (suggests EU Commision is inconsistent re tax avoidance ed). Frankly , were I Greece and faced with the threat of having to leave the EU were they to drop the Euro , I would say ” what does it matter ?”.

    Democracy has to be settled at a national level ; as one responder has already pointed out ” EU officials are not elected representatives “. Until and unless the EU have complete control over political and fiscal matters in all countries , it will never be “democratic”, even then , it would have to be achieved with the active “will of its peoples”.

    “All for one and one for all” is not the motto of the EU ; were this so Germany would have no balance of payment wealth . Imposing rules and restrictions from a bureaucratic centre is bound to receive harsh kick-backs from wherever the cap does not fit . Exploiting advantage is bound to operate when controls and supervision are weak and imposing these features across a very wide spectrum of countries and cultures is impossible .

    Whether PvL likes it or not , we are witnessing a degree of disintegration within the EU . The rise of smaller voices of objection are making themselves heard across Europe showing levels of dissent against traditional groups . Brussels has no mechanism of dealing with this apart from stating the rules of its club .

  18. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    JR: “The EU doesn’t like democracy very much”
    Yet, your leader is determined to do all in his power to keep us in such an anti-democratic foreign organisation. Why? Why do we need to subjegate ourselves and be governed by people with whom we just want to trade and show friendship? If that suggestion were made in relation to our trading relationship with the USA then those advocates of our entrapment within the EU would be the first to protest and, for once, they would be correct.

  19. Cheshire Girl
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    This is completely off topic’ and I apologise for this but I don’t know where else to put it.

    I know that today there will be various activities to commemorate the funeral of Winston Churchill, such as as on the Thames and services at Westminster Abbey. However I am surprised and dismayed that none of these occasions is going to be televised (at least I cant see it on any of the TV schedules). Does anyone know differently

    • Qubus
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      It is on the Parliament Channel. If you missed it, I assume that you can access it via iPlayer.

    • David Price
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      There have been series of programmes on Radio 4 and a TV programme the other night presented by Paxman which is still available via iPlayer

  20. Alan Wheatley
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It has been obvious for years, once it became apparent we had not joined a free-trade area, that the EU was definitely not and would never be what is best for the UK. I can understand that for some european countries, most of which have troubled pasts in one way or another, there was a certain appeal; having been ill served by national government collective government held out the prospect of something better. But the UK is different.

    Seeking a “better” relationship for the UK WITHIN the EU is never going to work. Far better to stop wasting time and treasure on a busted idea and plan for a much better future outside the EU.

  21. oldtimer
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    The way the EU treaties and institutions are written and structured limit, by design, the exercise of democratic choices at the national level. That leaves only the option of Article 50. No doubt the EUrocracy believes that the Greeks are too wedded to the euro and to the EU to want to exercise this option and that, in time, the new Greek government will self destruct as it fails to deliver on its unrealistic promises.

    I imagine they take a similar view of the UK. A German commentator has observed that, looking at current UK polls, it was unlikely that Mr Cameron would be able to form a government and that all UK talk of renegotitation will come to nothing. That would certainly be true if Mr Miliband became PM either alone or in coalition.

  22. ChrisS
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    This is yet another example of the lack of democratic accountability of the Brussels elite who are brutal in their tactics of bullying nation states into submission. First we had France, the Netherlands and Ireland told to vote again when their electorate chose the “wrong” answer at referenda. Then we had the imposition of Technocratic governments in Greece and Italy.

    I can’t imagine why any other EU state would deliberately chose to vote to expel Greece from the EU if they were forced to leave the Euro.

    Surely all that would be required would be a vote to allow Greece to exit the Euro at a special one day summit of Eurozone leaders ?

    It’s just another attempt to bully the new Greek Government into submission to avoid opening up the Pandora’s Box that would come with writing off 50% of the debt.

    Slowly the Eurozone is inching towards having to confront and resolve its fundamental flaws.

    The single currency has no future without huge fiscal transfers between the rich and poor countries and full budgetary control has to be transferred to Brussels for all Eurozone member states.

    The German voter will never support the former and the French and others, the latter.

    Merkel knows that a break up of the Euro will see a new German currency that will soar upwards by anything up to 40% with respect to the Dollar and pound and probably 60% in respect to the Club Med countries. She is desperate to avoid this because German industry will become uncompetitive in an instant and that will take years to put right.

    We can see from this side of the Channel that the Euro as currently constituted has no long term future. The Brussels elite and Mrs Merkel are burying their heads in the sand to avoid confronting the inevitable.

    • ChrisS
      Posted January 31, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Today ( Saturday ) Mrs Merkel has added her voice to that of the Junker, Dijsselbloem, Schaeuble and Schulz saying a definite no to the cancellation of any of Greece’s debt.

      At the same time, in Madrid, there is a massive demonstration going on by supporters of Pedemos, the popular Spanish party where Pablo Turrión is seeking to emulate the success of Syriza at their own general election which has to take place before the end of the year.

      What an Own Goal !

      If any further proof were needed, voters of every country in the EU will certainly be under no illusion that the Brussels elite and Merkel have any interest in making concessions to meet the democratic wishes of the Greek people.

      There seems to be only one outcome : unless Tsipras does an embarrassing U Turn and loses all credibility amongst those that elected him, they must surely be heading towards GREXIT ?

      The Euro might be able to survive GREXIT but can it cope with the loss of Spain as well?

      I doubt it.

  23. Roy Grainger
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    John, you are rather mischeviously implying that Mr Juncker means what he says. I’m sure you know that it is simply the first stage of the negotiations that will take place which will result in the EU delivering a giant cargo of fudge to the Greek government so that both sides can claim they won. The debt will be forgiven/rescheduled and it will all continue as before. Germany’s position against rescheduling will prove to be as firm as their position against QE.

  24. agricola
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    You highlight quite correctly the lack of democracy in the EU. The EU hierarchy in Brussels are the “Party” and Europe is fast becoming “Oceana”. Once the party have a certain amount of power they will always want more. Why does the Conservative party go along with this. Can your leader please explain in your forthcoming manifesto 2015 what it is he so dearly loves about membership of the EU. Tell him, if you have his ear, that a bicycle cannot negotiate or mitigate the level of disaster with an artic going the opposite way at high speed.

    The democratic deficit has also taken root in the UK in more ways than there is room to discuss here. I look forward to what your leader puts his name to in the Conservative party manifesto 2015, which will be studied for content and omissions with forensic attention. When it is hot off the press please publish a lead to it.

  25. formula57
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    “The EU has now hit out and told the Greek voters they are wrong and have to think again. “. Naturellement! Surely what is needed in Greece is not less Europe, but more Europe and so it is quite proper to expect the Greeks, Irish-like, to just vote again until they make a choice that conforms better to the EU’s requirements.

    It might, however, be instructive to remind ourselves of the thoughts of Mr Yanis Varoufakis, relayed in his previous capacity as a professor at Athens University, on the democratic credentials of the EU. He notes were lacking ab initio and create serious problems today, not least in responding sensibly to the Euro currency crisis.

    He says “….the European Union’s bureaucracy was always built as a democracy-free, even a politics-free, zone. Its founding fathers, men like Jean Monnet, harboured a deep distaste for democratic politics and aspired to creating a technocracy in Brussels that would direct Europe’s macro-economy in a corporatist manner in the interests of the Central European heavy industry cartel.” [a cartel given expression in the Coal and Steel community]. He then notes, “In this context, it seems natural that the European Common Market was an attempt at de-politicising the European integration project and subjecting it to the guidance and administration of unelected technocrats who would consistently reduce politics to management and democracy to consultation.”

    So one member at least of the Syriza government who is not fooled! Tough times ahead for our leader Mr Juncker.

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Beautiful !!!

      Thanks for sharing.

      Pity no one in UK politics is able to say the same thing.

  26. waramess
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    An excellent summary. All EU members should have read and fully understood the treaties before they signed.

    Given the number of lawyers employed by the countries concerned there can be no excuse and once signed there can logically be no room for members to pick and choose what parts they want to comply with.

    I might add the view that there can be no sense at all in Germany having to “redistribute its wealth to other EU countries for any reason at all.

    Carney is quite wrong and there is little point in earning a surplus on trade if all you then do is to loose it in the redistribution.

    Germany is a rich country, it’s government has always in recent times followed an honest money policy and as a result it becomes progressively richer as its trade surpluses multiply.

    Greece on the other hand is a poor country and has in recent times followed a consistently dishonest money policy and as a consequence has become progressively poorer as it’s trade deficits multiply.

    The answer is for Greece to stop its habit of excessive spending, printing and devaluation and master the arts of running a balanced budget and current account.

    Hardly a difficult task and something the UK (and Carney) might wish to consider

  27. bluedog
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    It seems, Dr JR, that at moments of existential crisis, the EU can always produce some worthy called Jean-Claude to tip petrol on the fire and make things worse. So it was at the height of the Great Recession when with unerring skill, Jean-Claude Trichet decided the destruction of equity across the global banking sector was of secondary importance to the risk of inflation, whereupon he contracted the money supply of the EMU, throwing millions out of work. Thank God for Mario Draghi.

    Fast forward to 2015 when Jean-Claude Juncker, who has clearly never heard of Game Theory (he’s a lawyer) pre-empts the EU’s moves in negotiations with Greece.

    Over in the European capital of Berlin, the Kanzlerin must be tearing her hair out. Merkel has a PhD in quantum Chemistry and can reasonably be assumed to be capable of thinking mathematically, not a common skill amongst lawyers. One suspects that Merkel’s highly trained mind would have already devised a range of strategies to counter likely Greek initiatives, with a rough cost-benefit of each German position. Juncker’s legalistic statement in a game like this is really no help at all, and without question he has already been politely told to shut up.

  28. mickc
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Isn’t the stated EU position that there can be no democratic opposition to the Treaties exactly what we would be signing up to with TTIP?

    In other words the democratic will of the people can be overturned by a foreign “court”, with the country liable for damages in favour of foreign corporations if found to be in breach.

    Isn’t the Conservative party in favour of TTIP, and these provisions?

  29. Atlas
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    A visitor from Mars would wonder how such a self-destructive species as ours ever got anywhere…

    Is it me or does the EU pronouncements have all flavour of the ancien regime just before 1789 ?

  30. A different Simon
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    To adapt a well known saying , what’s good for the German’s is not necessarily good for the Greeks .

    Volkswagen’s articles of association specify that it is set up for the benefit of the workers of Lower Saxony and the state of Lower Saxony remains a large shareholder .

    Every couple of years this is challenged as being contrary to EU competition laws and every time it is kicked into touch .

    No other EU country would get away with such blatent flouting of the laws they seek to enforce elsewhere .

    It’s just more evidence , if any was needed , that the EU is Germany’s reward from the International Community for behaving itself .

    Look at the almost unanimous UK cross party support of Hitler during the 1930’s and the efforts Conservative and Labour leadership went to to silence Mr Churchill .

    We’ve witnessed a Lazarus like resurgence in the power of the historic UK Upper Class Establishment .

    Over the past 35 years they have recaptured almost all the ground they were forced to relinquish in the post war era and ordinary people have been put back in their place .

    The UK political classes renewed enthusiasm for a New Greater Germany should hardly come as a surprise .

  31. A different Simon
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    PS ,

    Back in the 1930’s everybody from Arnold Toynbee , the Labour and Conservative Parties , senior civil servants to the UK establishment and royalty was behind Chancellor Hitler .

    Mr Churchill was the solitary voice and the establishment did their damndest to prevent him being heard .

    More than ever before the country needs a new Winston .

    • Mark B
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      No it does not.

  32. Martin
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    So are you now saying that if it is OK for any country to elect a government and tear up its debts?

    Would your Republican friends in the USA be happy if a future elected UK government decided to tell the USA it would not repay UK government bonds (or pay them in South Sea Stones instead of USD) ?

    Reply I do not recommend such action and do not think it OK. However, a sovereign country like Iceland can decide to do just if it wishes and has to live with the financial and market consequences.

    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Greece should make overtures to similarly bullied small countries in the region and a few more distant, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and candidate countries for EU membership. Then leave the Euro and Euroland en masse.

    Increasingly they a feeling the dictatorship of forces outside their borders which have little if anything to do with joint economic progression but more to do with military geo-political efforts to isolate Russia and its close allies, orchestrated from a non-European country across the Atlantic.

    One has to feel sorry for America. It’s hyped announcements of “Aren’t we doing well” by its economic commentators are much like the squaks of the late British Empire where realpolitik flew in the face of the British fantasy of the grandeur of the “Commonwealth”. As the late Enoch Powell stated regretfully on BBC Question Time ( or was it a David Frost programme?) : “Britain’s MYTH of Empire” .

    The US is up to the neck and beyond in debt which its people even with cheap Mexican labour cannot overcome within the next hundred years, even if its economic claims of prowess were anywhere near the truth and it had lacklustre competitors, which most certainly it does not..
    Britain seems to stand in the shadow of the US as if taking a Pythonesque vicarious glory in its doings however bizarre and grossly undemocratic.

    Time for the UK to attempt independence.

  34. ian
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The greek do not want to leave the euro but there nothing stopping them from joining another organization or economic area.

  35. Matt
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    They’ll negotiate with us if, and only if, they genuinely believe that we’ll leave if we don’t get a good deal. Our threat to withdraw has to be genuine and serious. If, for example, senior people tell them that they can win the referendum on the matter without real change, there will be no real change. If the polls indicate that the people will vote to stay in with only superficial changes, that’s what we’ll get.
    It all comes down to the electorate. We have to be committed to leaving if the deal is bad.

  36. bigneil
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    You could have made it a lot shorter john and just wrote – ” the EU is a dictatorship”.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      @bigneil; ” the EU is a dictatorship”

      Funny but those countries that have lived under the rule of dictatorship, and here I’m not just talking about the ex-communist block, appear to say otherwise.

      There is nothing stopping any member country from leaving the EU, either via the front door (the often cited Article 50) or via the back door and a unilateral/disorderly exit, something that would be impossible if the EU was a “dictatorship” – ask anyone from Hungary, for example…

  37. alte fritz
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    If the European Project proceeds, Europe will integrate and Germany will have no choice in the matter of which parts of the EU it subsidises, nor will Greece have any say in what debt it my incur since its ability to incur debt will be on a par with an English county council.

    Projet complet.

  38. peter davies
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    The rhetoric that goes with all this makes you wonder where this is going to end up – its a total shambles.

    I think Greece needs to accept that this is no good and decide to become an Iceland or Singapore. Any country which cant turn its economy around after 6 years must indicate that the structure they have is not fit for purpose. Socialism wont help – it will create a bigger mess.

    Cut the EU strings, revert to own currency, devalue and follow an economic model along the lines of Singapore/Iceland – it would take time, but sticking with the EU corpse is in my view lunacy.

    There are more than a few Greek entrepreneurs around the world who would surely help and invest in a new type economy.

  39. BobE
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    We need another Churchill. To lead us out of this third attempt to dominate Europe. Greece could run its own currency, devalue and get cheap holidays going again. This worked in the past. It could easily work again. What possible advantage is the EU to Greece?.

  40. Rods
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    When you look at it in the context of the EUSSR where countries are states or provinces and their laws and people are subservient to Brussels, then it makes perfect sense that all laws and policies have to comply with EU laws and the ‘interpretation’ of them. Much the same way as our local councils can only frame bylaws within UK and more importantly EU law where it has the final say. Unless you are an EEC founder member and big country, like France and Germany, then sticking to the ‘interpretation’ of EU law is just for late entrants to the club and small countries, like not exceeding 3% deficit and 60% of GDP sovereign debt targets, not to mention founding countries national Constitutional Courts having the last word. Some countries are more equal than other others in the eyes of Brussels!

    And this is the problem with the EU, in my opinion, it is essentially a French-German club with French socialist policies to protect French unsustainable economic policies through subsidies like CAP, common fisheries and European wide import taxes and protectionism. The French need to shield their lifestyles and uncompetitive industries through this protectionism and subsidies. In my experience the French are experts at getting round unfair subsidies to industry rules, where it will be ‘eco-development something’ funds. A competitive free mixed economy does not collect and spend 57% of GDP in taxes as the Swedes found out where they had to drastically reform their uncompetitive economy in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

    In my opinion, the French would have got away with this European wide equality of economic misery for Europe, apart from cheap Asian goods and globalisation derailing it. This meant that France through Europe did not have the clout to get away with creating Europe as a global protectionist block.

    What people need to realise is the wide implications that an in-out vote is about. Whether we chart the path of an an independent country with strong economic ties with Europe and the rest of the world or become a stagnating state or province in an economic stagnant eco-green socialist block the EUSSR. If the UK votes to stay in then as sure as night follows day, we will be outvoted in a future treaty and forced along with other non-Euro members to adopt the Euro and as a late entrant will be expected to pay through the city London ‘economic development taxes’ to bail out the weaker prolific spenders so France and particularly Germany are off the hook for the sort of subsidies that are need for the problematic PIIGS to stop the Euro and EU splitting apart.

    We already do this on a small scale with higher spending per person in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but this is close to nothing in scale compared to the EU requirements. When you have a single currency covering a diverse range of European provinces, where exchange rates used absorb the economic stresses between economies, the only alternative mechanism now is subsidies.

  41. Boudicca
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    So the EU is opposed to national Democracy and rides roughshod over the wishes of the electorates in member nations …… tell us something we don’t already know John.

    This is the organisation your Party and your Party Leader are committed to remain a member of and which will fight dirty to ensure we stay in on whatever terms the EU dictates.

  42. Jon
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    If there is a referendum and a deal is put on the table the EU does not have a good record on seeing through reform. The other issue there is the SNP’s proposal that a no vote needs to be in all 4 countries. We are a UK therefore I don’t accept that but it will be a strong point they make. A lot of hoops to get that far anyway. The issue with Greece may change things a lot.

    • Jerry
      Posted January 30, 2015 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

      @Jon; “The other issue there is the SNP’s proposal that a no vote needs to be in all 4 countries. We are a UK therefore I don’t accept that but it will be a strong point they make.”

      With respect, it was a bl**dy daft comment for the SNP to make, if there was any rational basis for it then it would set a president to the rational that there would have to be a majority in all four countries (of the union) in favour of Scotland’s independent from the UK in a future iScotland referendum!

  43. Margaret Brandreth-J
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    I cannot see that the Commissions position is logical at all . For logic to work, by it’s formula is required to be reversed to be true. This is not the case.

  44. Stuart B
    Posted January 30, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    1. Extensive bilateral support/deals between the UK and Greece.
    2. Approach each of the populous parties for a prototype deal – free trade, no pooled sovereignty, anti-EU-trust agreements.

    We might just be able to finesse the old jokes of Eurocrats, with a brain at each end, like dinosaurs..

  45. Richard
    Posted January 31, 2015 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    You are right, the EU doesn’t like democracy very much, but then it was never designed to be democratic.

    Surely worse however, is that our UK rulers also do not like us to have democracy.

    Despite knowing that the EU was not democratic they have over the years given away our sovereignty and democratic rights to this organisation without our consent.

    Furthermore, our rulers have instigated undemocratic asymmetric devolution, unequal constituencies and a voting system which is wide open to fraud through the use of postal voting and the non-use of any form of identity being required (not even the need to show a voting card).

    We even allow millions of non-citizens to vote in our elections and an MP suggesting that all students register to vote at home AND university.

    Now our rulers are starting to call for internet voting.

    So we will have absolutely no idea who is voting, how often they have voted, where they live, what nationality they are or how the votes are counted.

    A brilliant idea to subvert democracy.

  • 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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