Scotland’s Europe: what price democracy?

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by Hazel Lewry

There has been the almost universal cry from Westminster of late; the world is falling apart and the SNP is responsible.  Everything seems to be Alex Salmond’s fault simply because he won’t publicise either the referendum date or the questions.

Investors are supposedly shunning Scotland.  I suppose that means that Amazon didn’t just open up a huge centre in Fife; there isn’t a new wind-farm proposed for the Moray Firth; and we don’t have four of the five world leading turbine manufacturers with a significant presence in Scotland.  The mainstream media is also ignoring the fact that Westminster is being lobbied by the north of England, apparently jealous of Scotland’s ongoing success in attracting inward investment.

While Westminster is focused on preventing success for Scotland, it is ignoring the much more significant and radically dangerous European issue.

Scotland’s current success can now be argued as better than Europe’s powerhouse, Germany.

Last week marked a first in recent European history when Germany tried to sell €6bn of 10-year bonds – the kind of debt that investors have been continually rushing to buy.  It only managed to sell €3.64bn worth – leaving more than a third of the bonds unsold.  Germany herself may be facing significant borrowing problems as her debt to GDP ratio is now past 80% and marching strongly to the 100% level nations prefer not to contemplate.

German banks are in significant turmoil and her closest ally on the Euro stage, France, is staring at a potential credit downgrade.

Although it remains unlikely at present that Germany will see the same fundamental takeover of government as Greece and Italy, who have basically lost democracy by default and are now governed by technocrats, it is no longer something that should be considered impossible.  This was re-enforced strongly by last week’s EU statements.

Lost democracy is the only description that can be applied to a situation exemplified by Greece’s opposition leader, Mr. Samaras, who was informed by the euro technocrats that the next round of money to keep his nation afloat will be withheld until he also agrees to implement what the technocrats want.  Basically the EU wants a guarantee that whoever Greeks vote for, EU policies will be paramount.  Italy is being treated with a bit more tact and diplomacy but the resultant requirements are little different.

This begs the question, why bother with elections if one will only elect a puppet?

Lost democracy indeed, when it doesn’t matter who you vote for as those finally elected are bound to do what Brussels or a group of unelected technocrats tell them to do.  National sovereignty for Italy and Greece has substantially been consigned to the historical bin; their populations just haven’t realised it yet.

Italy and Greece are the first – they will not be the last.

After all, this was the week that EC president José Manuel Barroso presented his plan to improve financial stability in the EU.  He started off by outlining why he wants the European Commission to have more control over national budgets stating:

“Measures for tighter euro-zone oversight are needed for growth, financial stability, and budget discipline.”

The EU proposals resolve themselves into six points:

1. All 17 euro area countries would send their draft budget plans to the Commission by 15 October each year.

Clarification: The EU approves your budget. Period. No approval = no budget = no spending.

2. This unelected European Commission shall be able to request [demand] a new draft budget if the original shows serious divergences with commitments made by member states.

Clarification: If we don’t think you can afford what you think you can afford then you have to resubmit your budget again and again until we say it’s OK.

3. The unelected European Commission will carry out closer monitoring of Member States under its ‘Excessive Deficit Procedure.’

Clarification: In time, and probably not a long time, expect our technocrats, which you will pay for, to be resident in your nations with power of life and death over your budgets/economies. We will be watching, very, very closely.

4. The unelected European Commission will have the right to decide on enhanced surveillance of member states when financial stability is threatened.

Clarification: If we get suspicious of what you’re doing, we’ll watch you even more closely, and we will be no toothless dog.

5. The unelected European Council could recommend to a Member State that it requests financial assistance.

Clarification: We will not wait for issues to become critical in future – it will be our right to tell you you’re heading for trouble and make sure you turn over the reins and trappings of power to us so that we can fix things for you.

6. All euro area Member States would be required to set up independent fiscal councils, and prepare budgets based on independent forecasts.

Clarification: extrapolated to its logical conclusion each euro member state will eventually have an unelected, appointed fiscal council.  These fiscal councils will control monetary policy.  As money basically underwrites everything in our society, that will give veto power on all aspects of our society to these fiscal councils.  Effectively this equals an unelected financial dictatorship.

That’s it, that’s the substantive outline for the next stage of the EU story.  It will require treaty modification.  As Rothschild once said, it doesn’t matter who’s president, just give him control of the money.

In the midst of this mayhem David Cameron wants to repatriate powers from the EU, yet sees an issue with Scotland repatriating powers from Westminster.

In both cases Cameron has no bargaining chip, he’s not part of the euro and has no veto.  No bargaining chip in Europe means a strong likelihood of no repatriation of power unless Merkel agrees.  He’s also got to accept Scotland’s right of choice as ratified by the UN charter the UK is party to.

The proposals will make for a two tier EU, those in the euro and those not.  Expect those not in the euro to have to tag along on many items of EU legislation that those simply in the European Free Trade zone don’t have to bother with.  In time they may be forced into the choice, into the euro or out of the EU.

All of the above, ultimately enacted or not, equate to Scotland being required to have a substantive debate on EU membership followed by a referendum.

It will be another three choice referendum, in, out or EFT (European Free Trade).  The single currency must be reserved as a separate question for another time.

Just like the upcoming independence referendum all three questions must be asked, because to fail in the asking is to disenfranchise substantial portions of our own electorate. It appears this is a position currently favoured by Westminster.

The EU referendum must come after the independence referendum; it would be followed by a currency referendum.  The Scottish Government must make clear soon that these options will be available for vote by Scotland after the independence referendum, thereafter the subject will be closed until a yes vote is attained.

The currency referendum would be the final stage in Scotland’s long walk back to sovereignty, and it simply can’t be offered until the nation decides on the status of its EU membership, and Scotland, unlike England will be the decider of the status of her membership for she has power and resources that Europe requires, whereas England does not.

The fears over Europe and Westminster’s scare tactics can be demonstrably more applicable to London than Edinburgh in a post independence referendum world.  As a continent on the brink of fiscal and energy calamity which would you welcome with open arms – the net debtor or the net contributor in both areas?

Make no mistake, both resulting state entities, Scotland and the rump of this dis-United Kingdom will have to renegotiate their EU status.  South of the border it just may not be quite so automatic, north of the border we just might decide that it isn’t worth the bother.