By Jim McConalogue
The Foreign Secretary William Hague maintained at the Conservative Party Conference that the Eurozone had become a “burning building with no exits” in a speech that was also careful to point out that British interests were closely tied to the future of the Euro area. I generally agreed with the tone of that speech but cannot now help but extend his analogy because the truth of the situation is that Britain is trapped around the burning Eurozone building with no exits.
What alarms me most over last Wednesday’s Euro summit is this: Eurozone ministers have proposed and agreed increasingly harmonised economic and fiscal government measures that will govern their Euro-policy and strongly affect the wider European Union but, because Britain is not part of those Eurozone decision-making meetings, we are effectively being excluded from a political process in which, as EU members, we are supposedly entitled to influence European Union policy. It is drastic and must be challenged. In other words, in the creation of a two-tier Europe, we are shut out, to the detriment of growth in the UK economy.
Worse still, when Eurozone ministers come to agree on tighter fiscal union and economic government among themselves – a policy which the Chancellor actively promotes – and it is then proven that their economically harmonised system does not work, as many economists agree is likely, then Britain will be hemmed in by an impoverished set of European neighbours with no basis for growth and having ourselves adopted the draconian rules, regulations and laws that the Euro-17 have made for us (within a Euro-centric framework). We will have suffered the truly negative consequences of a two-tier Europe.