Jonathan Jones

The debate over Europe’s future

The debate over Europe's future
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We've got two interventions by high-profile European politicians in the British papers this morning. In the FT, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle lays out Germany's stance, providing a taste of what David Cameron can expect when he meets Angela Merkel in Berlin today.

He begins by underscoring the importance of keeping the eurozone together:

'The eurozone is the economic backbone of the European Union. Its stability directly affects non-euro states and global financial markets. An erosion of the eurozone would jeopardise Europe as a political project, and with it the chance to make our values and interests be heard in the new power set-up of the 21st century.

Stabilising the eurozone is in the interest of all 27 EU member states, not least the UK, with its extremely close economic ties.'

In the long-term, Westerwelle claims, monetary union will not be enough. A 'stability union' is needed, where the eurozone has the power to sanction countries 'which continuously deviate from the fiscal straight and narrow'. Echoing Merkel, he says we're going to need to ammend the EU treaty:

'Treaty change will require considerable political will. But if we fail to muster the courage to do this now, Europe will remain permanently vulnerable to crisis.'

'While all nations need to reform, we must avoid falling into the political and economic trap of seeking to harmonise reforms across the EU...

Only decisions made at national level will have the necessary legitimacy; it would be a mistake to take shortcuts, bypassing or neglecting the institutions of national democracies.'

Between them, these give a nice precis of the arguments over Europe's future. On one side, those who view a closer, more powerful union as the only way to save it; on the other, those who see that as a recipe for its destruction.