Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two speed Europe ahead, but just don't mention it to Dave

Iain Martin at the Wall Street Journal is becoming one of the most preceptive commentators on the UK/EU relationship. Recently he wrote about the vacuum at the heart of the Tory party when it came to Europe. Now he has turned his gaze upon the future of the Euro, particularly on what will happen with those countries in the EU, but not yet in the Eurozone. Only a couple of days ago polling in the Czech Republic gave 70% opposed to joing the Euro, espite the agreement of their Government tpo do so, and other countrioes not yet in are having setrious doubts. After all they look at Greece and Ireland and don't feel particularly sure that they want to go down a similar route. The problem is somebody has to take a stand,
Emerging is a Europe of two blocs, with those in the common currency moving closer together and those outside it not. In time this will require a dispensation in the European Union, a reflection of reality in which the noneuro countries have a different set of arrangements from their partners who have opted for the fast lane. But for that to happen, a case would have to be made and some leadership shown.

Where might such leadership of those outside the common currency come from? In theory, the British and the Poles are well placed to provide it. But the U.K. government doesn't seem remotely interested in the arguments. Several weeks ago, ahead of the Conservative Party's conference, I wrote of "the Strange Death of Tory Euroskepticism." A strand of thinking that had once threatened to split the Tory party and could, it was thought, cause David Cameron serious difficulty in Number 10 has all but disappeared.

Understandably, the Tory leader doesn't want Europe disrupting his coalition with the Europhile Liberal Democrats and their joint focus on deficit reduction. But he has shut down discussion on the future of the EU just as the subject threatens to get interesting.
So if not us, then who?

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