Charles Moore Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 7 March 2009

Charles Moore's reflections on the week

There is talk once again of Tony Blair becoming ‘President of Europe’. This grand title is unofficial. The job in question is formally called President of the European Council, and it will be created if the Lisbon Treaty ever comes into force. More Europhiles now see Mr Blair as having the fame and political clout to make the collective EU presence on the world stage a greater reality. The fact that they are thinking this way indicates something which we Eurosceptics are too slow to understand, which is that crisis in the EU tends to be used to strengthen integration. To us, it is obvious that a country like, say, Spain, which now has 3.5 million unemployed in a country of 40.5 million, would be in a much better economic condition if it had its own currency and therefore its own competitive exchange rate. We tend to think, like Marxists about capitalism, that the euro will ‘collapse under the weight of its own contradictions’. And we may eventually turn out to be right that angry European citizens will sweep the existing institutions away. But for the powers that be, the credit crunch cries out for a stronger European central authority to direct economic policy and prevent member countries running up their own huge debts. In the current panic, the eurozone exercises a centripetal pull for those already in it, or linked to it. ‘Europe’ will get worse before it gets better.

As George Galloway said to Saddam Hussein, I say to Sir Fred Goodwin: ‘Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability’. Most of us, when caught out in receipt of a pension specially increased to gargantuan size in response to us leading our company to the greatest loss in British corporate history, would be embarrassed. Finding that we had failed to escape unnoticed, we would try some feint, like giving some of it to charity for a bit, or offering to pay a proportion back.

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