Rise of regions underpins need for EMU: Letter

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The Independent Online
Sir: You have done a public service with your contribution to the EMU debate ("EMU: an informed leap in the dark", 21 October). But there is one aspect that you underestimate, and that is the regional dimension.

Looking beyond the short term, the European Union is likely to move towards a Europe of the regions, rather than of the nation states. This has two consequences.

Firstly, it places in context the argument against EMU of needing to retain the devaluation option. There is a core area of well-performing economies which do not observe national boundaries, and an outer area which needs considerable support. In this context, the devaluation of a national currency is too crude a mechanism; if it was right for, say, the Highlands and Merseyside, it would overheat the South-east of England. The same argument holds good for Italy. So the logic on this point is EMU supported by strong regional policies.

Secondly, it impinges upon the debate on democracy. Notwithstanding the linguistic perversions of the present British government, the rest of the European Union by its support of federalism means decentralisation and subsidiarity.

For the present British government, subsidiarity is seen as asserting the rights of nation states against European institutions, but that is where it stops. The present government has been one of the most centralising in history, emasculating local authorities and denying democratic institutions to the nations and regions of the UK. The UK is the only member state of the European Union where the constitutional status of local government is so weak that it is ineligible to accede to the European Charter of Local Self Government.

PHILIP GOLDENBERG

Prospective Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Woking

Woking, Surrey

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