Whilst stepping onto a plane headed to Germany, chancellor George “Gideon” Osborne released some feel-good guff to the press as he attempts to salvage his prime minister’s negotiations with Europe.
“The UK and German economies are the beating heart of Europe, the engine for growth and jobs. Together we make the world’s third-largest economy, behind only America and China, and since the crisis ended, we have generated two-thirds of EU growth.”
Gideon is right to suggest that Germany is at the heart of Europe, both economically and politically.
Not only is the German leader Angela Merkel looked to as the continent’s leading statesman, but the country’s post-war policy has positioned it at the centre of the confederation and as the key player in the eurozone.
Whilst both Germany and Britain have recently reported healthier gross domestic product growth than many of their European neighbours, Britain’s hostility to the EU has long prevented it being placed at the centre of the bloc.
In particular Britain’s retention of the pound has seen its fate only loosely track that of the eurozone, and the Bank of England is still able to alter monetary policy to suit Britain rather than the EU.
Gideon wants “a strong EU, fit for today’s challenges and working for the benefit of all 28 member states.” The problem is that the eurozone already includes 19 of those states, with more scheduled to join in the coming years.
And if what is good for the eurozone is bad for Britain and Denmark, both of which have opted out of the currency, is it reasonable to expect those 19 members to sacrifice themselves?
Image Credit – George Osborne, May 2009 by altogetherfool