The Trouble with €urope, By Roger Bootle, book review: A grown-up tilts at Europe
Margareta Pagano is a former business editor of the Independent on Sunday who now writes columns and business interviews for a range of publications, including the Independent, Independent on Sunday and London Evening Standard.
Monday 07 July 2014
Clever Roger Bootle. The City economist has done it again – picked one of the most vexed subjects of our age, put the boot in, shaken up the pieces and put them back together again with brilliant, albeit radical solutions.
This time Europe is Bootle’s kicking can. From the title of his new book, The Trouble with €urope – Why the EU isn’t working, how it can be reformed, what could take its place, you know exactly from where the kicks are coming. But he takes you through the arguments in one of the most thoughtful accounts that I have yet read about the European question.
What Bootle does so sensitively is set today’s problems into their historical context. Who remembers now that Germany lost seven million people during the Second World War, about 10 per cent of its population? In contrast, about 800,000 French people died, and the British lost 400,000. What these numbers explain is why the Germans have been the most enthusiastic supporters of le grand projet.
For Bootle, the trouble with Europe is the political principle behind the EU; and that, unless changed, this principle will always override democratically elected governments. It’s that this undemocratic institution has emasculated nation states and locked them into the euro straitjacket. One that has made them poorer: over the past 15 years eurozone growth was just 1.5 per cent and the region has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Even in Germany it’s the corporations that have become wealthier, not the workers.
Only fundamental reform can change this. The UK must continue pushing, says Bootle, and if changes can’t be achieved to allow different levels of integration and relations between states to be loosened, then we should exit. A Brexit wouldn’t be risk-free, he says, but the UK could prosper outside. He also thinks that the euro could still break up, leaving all sorts of permutations: either Greece, the UK or Germany could leave or there could be a North-South split. He was right about the ERM imploding, so he might be right on this too.
Anyone with half a brain knows that reducing the dialectic about Europe into a For or Against fight-off is plain stupid. If David Cameron wants a grown-up and nuanced spat ahead of next year’s election, then all of Bootle’s print-run should be bought up and given away free to the nation before we go to the polls.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beachart
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Crash victims in car flattened by shipping container emerge with just minor injuries
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
- 4 Exclusive: David Cameron’s Big Society in tatters as charity watchdog launches investigation into claims of Government funding misuse
- 5 Joey Barton and Yossi Benayoun become involved in Twitter row over Israel-Gaza conflict
Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor 'wheel on people who have mental health problems' says comedian Jo Brand
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
Orange Is The New Black season 3: Pornstache isn't coming back
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Fifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage from US parenting groups
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains