EDITOR'S LETTERJohn Stepek
The flaw in the euro grand projet
Staying on top of the Greek saga is tricky. After the umpteenth “final” deadline, there’s yet another coming up – this Monday. The date, 20 July, will mark the day Greece has to pay €3.5bn to the European Central Bank (ECB). As usual, the powers-that-be are racing to put together a fudge to drag us as far as the next “final” deadline. It’s a terrible mess, and a situation which – regardless of your view on Greece’s economic competence or otherwise – has inflicted an awful lot of unnecessary pain on the country.
It was also entirely predictable. As economist and author George Magnus tells our editor-in-chief Merryn Somerset Webb, this is the inevitable result of putting monetary union ahead of political union.
If a country like Germany wants to share a currency with one like Greece, then German taxpayers have to be willing to subsidise Greece – just as taxpayers in wealthy parts of the UK subsidise the less well-off areas. But in the absence of shared nationhood, values, or closer political integration, the idea of paying for Greek public-sector pensions is a non-starter for your average German worker.
The most interesting aspect of the Greek crisis is that this blindingly obvious flaw in the grand projet has come as news to a surprisingly large group of people. Long-term eurosceptics who always said this would happen are being joined in droves by horrified former believers who somehow imagined that the eurozone would be run by a Platonic guardian class of technocrats who would consistently do the right thing, make the right decisions, and set aside national self-interest in favour of the greater good – and that voters would put such people in charge of their nations.
• Read the full editor’s letter here: The flaw in the euro grand projet