“Ireland faces a major challenge this year with the United Kingdom.”

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Some interesting speculation from Paul Gillespie in the Irish Times on the potential outworkings of an Irish referendum on greater euro zone integration.  From the Irish Times

Unless the UK rethinks its veto (unlikely because of the political pressures on Cameron) it will become an outsider with an interest in the euro’s survival for its economic health, but now a rule-taker not maker. It failed to attract allies at the summit or since.

Increasingly, too, continentals see Britain as a potential subverter of the euro, as its political culture of absolute parliamentary sovereignty reinforced by a more and more vocal Euroscepticism affects its internal as well as its external affairs. English and Conservative Euroscepticism feed Scottish nationalism and may hasten support for independence there (notwithstanding Scotland’s own strong band of EU sceptics).

If that happened Ireland would face large decisions about the possible consequences for Irish reunification. This is not wishful thinking but rational and prudent thinking ahead based on real possibilities now talked about more openly in Britain itself.

All this reinforces the need for a coherent and up-to-date Irish policy towards Britain, above and beyond the existing one based on better relations and the Northern Ireland peace process.

We need smarter alliances with other smaller EU states to ensure the deepening euro zone is not dominated by Germany and France but balanced by common institutions. The UK does not share these interests. The values it shares with Ireland on tax and neoliberal policies will be less influential. And those who oppose the fiscal compact here need to answer hard questions about where an Irish rejection of it in a referendum would position this state – in renewed isolation with Britain?

Read the whole thing.

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  • cynic2

    ” It failed to attract allies at the summit or since.”

    So too have a number of political leaders in Europe who now find themselves with electorates deeply troubled by the implications of what they have agreed. In six months Cameron may have more friends. In six years he may be seen as visionary.

    “continentals see Britain as a potential subverter of the euro”

    Well, the French do. But then they have been actual subverters of the Euro through their fiscal policies. Italy Greece and Spain of course are serial subverters. They now talk the required Eurospeak but behind the scenes it is still ‘Lord save me from sinning – but not just yet”

    “Ireland would face large decisions about the possible consequences for Irish reunification. This is not wishful thinking but rational and prudent thinking ahead based on real possibilities now talked about more openly in Britain itself.”

    Really? Just where is it discussed And there is the pesky little matter of a referendum which it is widely agreed is unlikely to be pro-unification for say the next 20 years – if ever. So this is one that should not trouble either Government too much

    ” We need smarter alliances with other smaller EU states to ensure the deepening euro zone is not dominated by Germany and France but balanced by common institutions”

    A pious hope

    But above all what I find unsettling in this is the reference to ” (Britain’s) political culture of absolute parliamentary sovereignty”

    Yes I know. Its awful – being committed to democracy like that. What are the awful Brits thinking of – being able to vote out those politicians who make a mess of it and being ruled by those they elect rather than a Franco-German elite who know what’s best for them.

    If there is any stark decision facing the Irish people it is democracy + financial hardship vs oligarchy + slightly less hardship

    I know which I would choose

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    I am an regular reader of Paul Gillespie, not least because he was a fellow-Fabian at TCD.

    I suggest cynic2 @t 10:24 pm has ripped out of context at least one key clause:

    Ireland would face large decisions about the possible consequences for Irish reunification. This is not wishful thinking but rational and prudent thinking ahead based on real possibilities now talked about more openly in Britain itself.

    Now, I haven’t a clue what Paul currently thinks about “reunification” (whatever that may imply). Nor do I see him arguing that in detail in this article. What I read him saying here is that the balkanisation of the UK is happening — thanks to the success of Alex Salmond in pressing it onto the agenda. Whatever happens between now and the 24th June 2014 (the anniversary of Bannockburn, and almost certainly pencilled in as the referendum date), that is a real, live issue.

    I’m not alone, I know, in thinking that Westminster politicians, and Dave Cameron in particular, are simply not up-to-speed in arguing the case for the continuance of the Union.

    All of which means to me that there ought to be some contingency planning going on in Merrion Street — that rational and prudent thinking ahead based on real possibilities. And similarly so at Stormont (though logic and reason are harder to find there).

    More to the point that Paul was making, what happens if:

    (1) the € collapses (apparently rated a 3 to 1 shot)?

    (2) the € survives, under stringent German control (which seems the more likely outcome), but the Irish government looks for an “out”?

    (3) the phantom Cameron “veto” transmogrifies into a Tory-party crisis which can only be reconciled by the ever-promised, never-achieved referendum? And if Ed Miliband’s mob had any sense they would be making noises to encourage the ultra-sceptics in that aim.

    In any of those outcomes, Pual’s scenario becomes an immediate issue. One way or another, Ireland — it doesn’t matter how many counties you count — is out on the fringe of Europe, isolated in the Atlantic, looking for a life-boat.

  • Pete Baker

    Malcolm

    Another option “in relation to the possible consequences for Irish reunification” is

    (4) the € survives, under stringent German control (which seems the more likely outcome), but the Irish government looks for an “in”?

    “In any of those outcomes, Paul’s scenario becomes an immediate issue.”

    Indeed.

  • cynic2

    I would slant it differently. The balkanisation of the UK is threatened. Wait and see what the Scots vote for. They are currently cushioned by Barnett

  • Pete Baker

    Cynic

    Paul Gillespie’s scenario, “in relation to the possible consequences for Irish reunification”, isn’t dependent on the Scottish vote.

  • Alias

    His thinking about Ireland’s economic sovereignty is that it should be surrendered to either the EU or the UK but not held by the Irish themselves. It’s essentially an anti-sovereignty agenda masquerading as an economic agenda. Ireland’s problem has always been that its political class cannot see beyond dependency to independence.

    We need to reclaim our sovereignty and use it to target regions of the world that are growing, not economically stagnant regions such as the UK and the EU. India, China, Russia, etc, all had growth rates of circa 9% last year. In contrast, the backward EU region had an overall growth rate of 0.30%.

    The ‘thinking’ behind these progagandists is very weak. For examples, they say “X will be isolated on the margins of Europe – a wee island out in the Atlantic – if it does not comply with its demands”. This might be a problem if states were sheep or suchlike and should huddle together to avoid predators but it is quite meaningless otherwise. They say in regard to the UK that it “will lose its influence if it does not comply with the EU’s demands” but this is also meaningless. The EU is not a member of the eurozone and never had any influence over its policies.

  • Alias

    “The UK is not a member of the eurozone and never had any influence over its policies.”

  • cynic2

    “Paul Gillespie’s scenario, “in relation to the possible consequences for Irish reunification”, isn’t dependent on the Scottish vote.”

    I didn’t suggest it was – I was responding to Malcolm’s point about the alleged disintegration of the UK. My point was that I doubt that the Scots will vote for independence especially if they might end up in the EU with no real economic decision making power and the rest of the UK might go it alone.

  • cynic2

    Alias

    I agree to a point.

    The politics of Europe in the last 30 years has drifted from free trade and the ability to support growth and pay our way in the world, to navel gazing on treaties, bureaucratic structures. Why? Because the bureaucrats (heavily French influenced) have taken over and turned it into the usual French milch cow. That’s what they do and that’s why they are dangerous – they genuinely believe that running the world is best left to their benign dictatorship as they are so much more intelligent that us proles who make things or deliver services or just live or lives in the EU.The European Parliament is kept quiet with large amounts of financial gravy in the expenses trough and they control the politicians not the other way around

    There are markets out there to be won and if Europe follows the course it seems set on, over the next 25 years it will become introverted, uncompetitive and flabby while China India and Brazil grow.

    Europe could end up as the Africa of the 23nd Century

  • tuatha

    No idea of the meaning of “the deepening euro zone” but, if it means more & more dependence of the ECB (aka the unBundesbank), I for one am not interested.
    My views are idiosyncratic, and haven’t the slightest appeal to most citizens, but I would prefer a poor, self sufficient nation than a (slightly) plumper, subservient region of the Eutocracy, which it will be.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    As I repeatedly have to confess, unlike so many in Sluggerdom, I do not have a fully-functioning tarot-pack to affirm the future.

    So, a couple of details here:

    1. The only definitive conclusion to come out of the Scottish referendum would be “independence” (itself a rather nebulous concept that needs further refinement). Anything else and the SNP salami-slicer remains in operation, slicing slow but exceeding small. The essential problem does not go away.

    2. I am not taken by the eu-sceptics’ conceit of the UK (of GB? of GB&NI?) operating independent of other trading blocs. Indeed, ever since the days of the Hansa (who were operating under royal licence in England from 1157), and the Lords of the Staple (which takes us back to at least 1363), England, then Scotland, then GB after 1707, then the UK have operated within trading blocs of one kind or another.

    So, to a conclusion of sorts:

    All human things are subject to decay (thus Dryden in 1678), but historico-politically underlined by Norman Davies’ Vanished Kingdoms (thank you, Dewi!).

    We do know, tarot-less, that over the next while — months, rather than years — that the complexion of the EU must change. And we, all of us, must change with it. That is what I understand to be Paul Gillespie’s punchline in the final paragraph quoted by Pete Baker’s headpiece.

    Where I might happily differ with Paul is the assumption that, in a bloc looser than the present EU, “England”/the UK would have less interest in things Irish. I’d see the direct opposite. Cameron’s error before the 9th December veto was his failure to build alliances across the 27. It would be no great prediction to suggest that isolation needs to be, and is being diplomatically patched up. Else why Hague and his £2.2 billion budget?

    If we turn to Jonathan Faull, the UK’s most senior EU official, on the E!Sharp website, we get this:

    Let us assume that the UK is happy to observe EU and eurozone developments from a distance, except for core single market, competition and trade policies. Let us further assume that the 26 others manage to muddle through to a system of economic policy commitments and coordination backed up by credible enforcement mechanisms. That assumption is perfectly credible. Why 26, not 17. The eurozone countries are moving (some would say slouching) towards a system of coordinated economic decision-making.  The other nine non-euro member states will not want to be isolated. Nordic and Central and Eastern European countries are often allies with the UK in EU affairs. The emphasis in that sentence is on “in EU affairs”. They are unlikely to follow the UK to the sidelines.

    This will be more apparent to future historians than it is to today’s pundits or political scientists searching for immediately visible patterns and principles. But it is happening before our eyes.

    So what should the UK do? Stand by and watch a continental system built largely on German principles develop? Here is the challenge for British eurosceptics: what is your strategy for the country in the 21st century? We hear incessantly what you don’t like or want. From the xenophobic rants of the blogs and the tabloids to the reflections of those who question EU policies and are more deserving of the honourable adjective “skeptical”, I see little constructive thinking about the future.

    Hong Kong, Canada, Norway? Who are we and where are we going? Is this a British problem or an English one? These issues are bound up with national self-consciousness, a sense of self which the UK needs to define more clearly for itself and in its dealings with the rest of the world. Europe has too often been a scapegoat for post-imperial disappointments and failings. It can be a catalyst for serious thought about where the UK is going. The pro-European view is clear. Britain is a European country with similar challenges and opportunities to those facing its neighbours. It should be involved in major political developments, the latest of which is likely to be a thoroughgoing coordination of economic policies. It should influence that process, not suffer it. Otherwise, Britain will be the Channel Islands of the EU. Formally apart, with lovely pageantry and some economic successes, but following rules and policies made elsewhere.

    It seems to me that Paul Gillespie is wondering whether, in certain circumstances, Ireland should, or should not, become another “Channel Island”.

    [Off-topic: I'm coping with MacOs's latest iteration, which involves some intuitive predictive spelling-corrections. In the above Vanished Kingdoms came out as "aniseed Kingdoms".

    Well, it amused me.]

  • Pete Baker

    Cynic

    “My point was that I doubt that the Scots will vote for independence especially if they might end up in the EU with no real economic decision making power and the rest of the UK might go it alone.”

    Well, hold that thought. And apply it to the actual topic. In particular “the need for a coherent and up-to-date Irish policy towards Britain, above and beyond the existing one based on better relations and the Northern Ireland peace process” and “the possible consequences for Irish reunification”.

    That goes for the rest of you too.

  • Comrade Stalin

    but I would prefer a poor, self sufficient nation than a (slightly) plumper, subservient region of the Eutocracy, which it will be.

    Why don’t you live that ideal now ? Simply try living your life avoiding all the roads, transport systems and national infrastructure projects that were part-funded by the EU. They’ve made it easy for you to do, there’s a blue flag on everything they helped to pay for.

  • FuturePhysicist

    Europe could end up as the Africa of the 23nd Century

    But comparing French and German economic output to British and Irish economic output, we simply can’t adopt the attitude that Britain and Ireland know what’s best for Europe.

    Esentially why should the gin soaked Brit and the stout soaked Hibernian criticise the French wine drinker and German larger connoisseur.

    At the end of the day, like postwar Europe, I’d accept the security of a German job over and above the supposed a British culture. As a physics graduate I certainly know what order France, Germany, Ireland and the UK would invest in my type of work … hint the UK’s last.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Europe could end up as the Africa of the 23nd Century

    Let’s muse, however briefly, on the plundered, but still enormous natural resources of the African continent. Then decide if that remark qualifies as an inverse Abbott.

    Despite what others are trying to make of this thread, Paul Gillespie was not (to my reading) primarily considering the politics of reunification — and again that is a subject open to all kinds of interpretations, at all kinds of levels.

    No, Paul was addressing specifically the economic consequences of what is going on in Europe, in the archipelago, in Ireland and in Britain.

    When I recall the days of Customs rummages at Goraghwood and Amiens Street, of armed border crossings, politically we are a long, long way down the road to a sane relationship — but it wasn’t an alteration that in itself was politically willed or intended. Nor is that journey finished, the end of the road in the sat-nav. Above all, it has been economic more than political reconciliation, which implies “bottom-up” rather than “top-down”. As the EU-thing develops, that is where the political cadres in Brussels, London, Dublin and Belfast need to cast their eyes occasionally.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Which current thread should this be most relevant under: Size doesn’t matter, sovereignty does?

    Short, to the point, and highly relevant to the Scotland, NI and RoI dimensions.

  • cynic2

    “But comparing French and German economic output to British and Irish economic output, we simply can’t adopt the attitude that Britain and Ireland know what’s best for Europe.”

    Who suggested that. What is right for Germany Greece Ireland and the UK may lead to 4 radically different conclusions. What is happening is that it is planned those differences should be subsumed into some ill defined amorphous and undemocratic superstate.

    In that I fear all may lose

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    cynic2 @ 6:04 pm:

    some ill defined amorphous and undemocratic superstate

    Now where have we heard opposition of a similar kind? Let’s try a couple and see if the dogs bark.

    Well, here’s one:

    Let no man dare, when I am dead. to charge me with dishonor; let no man attaint my memory by believing that I could have engaged in any cause but that of my country’s liberty and independence, or that I could have become the pliant minion of power in the oppression or the miseries of my countrymen… I would not have submitted to a foreign oppressor for the same reason that I would resist the foreign and domestic oppressor: in the dignity of freedom I would have fought upon the threshold of my country, and its enemy should enter only by passing over my lifeless corpse. Am I, who lived but for my country, and who have subjected myself to the dangers of the jealous and watchful oppressor, and the bondage of the grave, only to give my countrymen their rights, and my country her independence, and am I to be loaded with calumny and not suffered to resent or repel it — no, God forbid!

    And another:

    O would, ere I had seen the day
    That Treason thus could sell us,
    My auld grey head had lien in clay,
    Wi’ Bruce and loyal Wallace!
    But pith and power, till my last hour,
    I’ll mak this declaration;
    We’re bought and sold for English gold —
    Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

    And now these polterers decry a wider [European] union in favour of a friable one they already think they have?

  • Zig70

    The one thing from the presidential election was that the Southerners are focus’ed oddly, mainly on themselves. Few can see past the referendum especially with the monumental dithering on the euro. Nero won’t come to mind anymore. I’m sure there is some poor git in the dail has been given the task of looking at the east/west perspective but the energy will be elsewhere.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I have no doubt Salmond will invoke the name of Sir William Wallace and Robert Bruce………having a fully functional reading of opinion polls,I have also little doubt the good people of Scotland will laugh the SNP out of office.
    When Alex stops pussyfooting around with the price of Cider,and is forced to add up the sums of Scottish Independence,Sir William,Robert and the Bonnie Prince Himself wouldnae save him !!

  • Alias

    “Why don’t you live that ideal now ? Simply try living your life avoiding all the roads, transport systems and national infrastructure projects that were part-funded by the EU. They’ve made it easy for you to do, there’s a blue flag on everything they helped to pay for.” – Comrade Stalin

    What a load of brainwashed twaddle. Ireland received grants of 6 billion net in EU structural funds for infrastructure such as roads. Add up the GDP for the 39 years of membership and divide it by that amount to get the figure for structural funds as a percentage of GDP.

    To get you started, combined GDP for the period from 2007 to 2010 is 686.511. You’re not even at 1% for 4 years, where do you think you’ll end up when you after 39?

    To claim that there would have been no money available to build roads if the EU didn’t provide circa 0.01% of GDP and that the other 99.99% of GDP was irrelevant is quite possibly the most outlandish europhile tosh yet posted by you.

    We could have built gold-plated roads if we didn’t fund the EU to the tune of 234 billion during the same period by donating fishing stock with an unprocessed value of 6 billion every year. And that is just the unprocessed value: the processed value is a multiple of it.

    Incidentally, this ‘it’s either be dominated by the EU or be dominated by the UK’ spiel is a virtual reprint of propaganda Paul Gillespie was spewing during the Lisbon treaty campaign. As the much lamented ‘Dave’ explained, it’s essentially an appeal to Anglophobia.