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Is the Euro Reordering the EU?
Finance
Perspective on the News
Monday, March 29, 2010
Ed DeShields - Omega Letter Exclusive

Greece is slowly collapsing under the weight of its own debt while the rest of Europe looks on like spectators passing a bad accident.  Years of low productivity and government spending has left Greece with few options but to default on its sovereign obligations as a nation, or to be bailed out by its richer EU sister nations.  It has unintentionally become a sign of Europe’s financial and political future;  a canary in the mine signaling a potential re-ordering of the EU itself.

Greece, and the entire world for that matter, is realizing that unlimited government spending has to eventually end.  One way or another the consequences of spending more than you make will bring about financial calamity and hardship.  In Europe, Greece is not alone.  Other EU members are being squeezed into a reality that being a debtor nation not only weakens their standing in Europe, but threatens the political and financial structure of the EU.   

This problem is particularly acute with a half-dozen of the sixteen countries who have adopted the Euro currency.   These countries, members of the Eurozone, include the six original Lisbon Treaty countries, or the so-called “core” of the new European Union of twenty seven.    

The crisis has exploded within the core countries of the Eurozone, particularly the Club Med states of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, due to poorly-run state budgets that are clearly out-of-control.   All have grown fat and lazy off the Euro’s cheap credit.  Instead of using that credit to build a sustainable economic growth strategy, they live off the difference between the credit they received due to the Euro and the credit they qualified for on their own merits.   Today that credit has evaporated.

Contemplating a solution to the Greece problem has caused the Eurozone’s most productive countries to consider a more streamlined EU governance strategy known as a “multi-speed Europe”.  The argument is that as the EU adds more and more diverse members it becomes difficult to reach consensus on various topics.  It becomes less likely that all members would advance at the same pace in the areas of economics, social welfare, fiscal controls, or security. 

The debt crisis threatens to reduce the core sixteen EU members to the strongest members under the theory of a multi-speed Europe.    Core Europe members, wanting speedier integration, would create their own federal institution, nested inside the supranational union.  The whole union would continue to be referred to as a "federation inside a confederation”.    Germany is a likely candidate for a permanent head of this smaller governance federation if it were to emerge.    A minimum of eight countries are required but with six countries no longer economically viable, ten could emerge as a re-ordered governing body.

A reduction of members within Europe’s core is at hand both politically and financially with the weakest being ripped out of the new federation by their economic roots.  

Next week we’ll discuss which countries may emerge as the new power-brokers within a re-ordered European Union and how the Euro could encourage a shift of power to create the world’s next most powerful nations.

About Ed DeShields



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