David Prosser: Europe's impossible dilemma

Outlook Let's hope Nigel Farage, the easily-enraged UK Independence Party MEP, was sitting down yesterday when he heard about the European Commission's proposals for whacking fines on profligate countries. The Commission wants the fines to apply to all 27 European Union members – not simply members of the euro – and a parallel review is being undertaken by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, who Mr Farage so memorably – and so rudely – insulted in a European Parliament session this year.

Mr Farage's apoplexy at perceived threats to UK sovereignty notwithstanding, one can see what both the Commission and Mr Van Rompuy's review are getting at. The routine way in which many EU members have flouted the commitments they once made about public debt – and all the big members breached the growth and stability pact last year – has made a nonsense of the deal.

That has had serious ramifications for the euro, with Germany and others forced, in order to save the single currency to ride, to the rescue of the most seriously indebted nations earlier this year. And since all EU members have signed up to the growth and stability pact, this is not an issue just for the eurozone. It would be difficult to operate a system where only eurozone members were penalised for transgressions, with the 11 EU nations outside of the euro, including the UK, free to break their word without fear of punishment.

The bad news for those who favour penalties binding on all 27 EU countries is that introducing such penalties would almost certainly require an amendment to the Lisbon treaty – a treacherous path down which many member states would fear to tread.

In truth, even getting agreement on these penalties from eurozone members is going to be difficult. The French, in particular, appear to have some entirely understandable reservations about the idea of giving Commission officials the power to demand France pays a fine of 0.2 per cent of its GDP if it is judged to have stepped out of line.

And yet. The eurozone crisis earlier this year made it clear that the existing pact is hopelessly out of date. German voters will not countenance their government continuing to implicitly guarantee the debts of irresponsible EU members. Sanctions of one sort or another are going to be a necessary evil. Best of luck with that Mr Van Rompuy.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam