David Blackburn

Stumbling towards fiscal union

Stumbling towards fiscal union
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Angela Merkel must tire of repeating herself. Eurobonds are “exactly the wrong answer” to the European debt crisis, she said yesterday for the umpteenth time. She added that they would “lead us to a debt union not a stability union”, a free-for-all funded by German taxpayers. She concluded that “greater commitment” from the 27 member states of the European Union was required to stabilise the situation.

Her comments would have, perhaps, placated her mutinous coalition in Germany, which is virulently opposed to Eurobonds and expensive integration. George Osborne, on the other hand, might have been slightly perturbed that Merkel prefers “greater commitment” from countries like Britain over the “remorseless logic” of monetary union.

Merkel is not alone in having reservations about fiscal and political union. At the end of last week, Finland, Holland and Austria (all AAA rated countries) signalled their intention that their loans to Greece should be contingent on obtaining collateral deals with Athens. It was a telling moment, indicating that these states have little faith in Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy’s solution to the debt crisis and are seeking to protect their taxpayers independently.

What this all means for the future of collective action to save the euro remains to be seen. Or indeed how the markets will react in the medium term. But, clearly, there seems to be little appetite for fiscal union among the affluent countries of the north at present.