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Britain and the EU: The euro: not the Titanic, but Chernobyl | The Economist

Posted on December 13th, 2011 at 14:04 by Desiato in category: Commentary -- Write a comment


Does that mean the [U.K.] government thinks the single [euro] currency is the Titanic, just like the gleeful backbenchers and columnists who were so happy this weekend? I hope not.

I think that the Titanic is a misleading analogy. Once the Titanic sank beneath the icy waves, it effectively ceased to exist. If the euro blows up, the consequences will be horrible and long-lasting.

I have a new analogy to propose. I think the British government should think of the euro as the Chernobyl nuclear complex. They think it was badly designed, and thus was always a bad idea. They are very glad not to have it on British soil. But they also understand Britain’s interest in helping to fix it. Or if that is impossible, undertaking heroic efforts to contain and limit the continent-wide fallout.

Bagehot has (in pieces previous to the one linked) the best commentary I’ve seen on why Cameron decided to oppose having the new eurozone regulations folded into the E.U. treaties.

  1. There’s this tendency for politicians to want to appear decisive and manly (a là Mme. Thatcher). Mr. Cameron would have been better advised to have tried to appear more helpful and less bossy. He didn’t have to actually do anything much. It’s called diplomacy.

    Example: Your hayrick fire has spread to your neighbour’s barn. Now you’re telling him he should have had a fire extinguisher. What happens next?

  2. I don’t know if I see Cameron as being bossy here. He didn’t want to run the risk of having a potential financial transaction tax imposed on the UK (or possibly other regulation). Merkozy wouldn’t give him a veto right on it.

  3. @Desiato Ah if only it was as simple as the City Tax on London. “The much-discussed Financial Transactions Tax issue already requires unanimity and therefore could never be imposed on the City of London without Britain’s agreement. What is more, as was pointed out in Brussels with some vehemence, when it comes to financial services there have hardly ever been any cases of Britain being outvoted in the adoption of such legislation.” http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2011/12/britain-and-eu-1 I suggest a solid reread of the links you posted.

  4. Hmm, interesting. I think I had read pieces 2 and 3 and hadn’t read the first in the series.

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