The cover story of this week’s magazine has a piece by yours truly about the Frankfurt Group of eight people who are calling the shots. Only two members are directly elected: Sarko and Merkel (well, three if you count the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, which we shouldn't as it a population smaller than Leeds). The rest are the heads of the ECB, IMF etc. They met in the Frankfurt Old Opera House last month and amidst movements of Mozart, agreed that Europe needed firmer government. The ECB can refuse to buy Italian bonds, helping destabilize Berlusconi. The IMF can insist on embarrassing inspect-the-books visits, further destabilizing him (or refuse the Greeks bailouts, etc). And in this way, a Franco-German superalliance is born, backed by the EU hierarchy. As I say in the piece, the Foreign Office got carried away with all this at the G20 summit and one FCO official went as far as to say 'We’re on our way to moving out Berlusconi'. Just a few months ago, they wouldn't have dared say that about Gaddafi. Since when did regime change in Italy become a legitimate goal of the UK government?
As Charles Moore says in today's Telegraph, this putsch by an unelected EU elite is surely something that left and right can unite to deplore.
And after Silvio? Nicholas Farrell has this to say in this week's issue:
'The is no valid alternative to Berlusconi. Do Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy honestly think that the Italian opposition, heirs to Europe's largest communist party outside the Soviet bloc, would cut public debt by doing something, say, about the most expensive public pension scheme in the world (14.2 per cent of GDP)? Would they make it possible, say, to sack incompetent or excess employees? (It's currently against the law, in any company with more than 15 staff.)
Non scherziamo (let's not joke)! To the Italian left, such moves would be tantamount to ripping out the drip that keeps it alive. There is much talk of a 'technical' government with Mario Monti, an economics professor and former European commissioner, as premier. Such governments, as Italians know only too well from the past, merely tread water.'