On November 1, 1993, the Maastricht Treaty entered into force, creating the European Union. The treaty faced a tumultuous start as it failed its first Danish referendum, squeaked by with a victory in a French referendum by just one percent, and almost saw the British Parliament overthrow the government of John Major. Denmark and the United Kingdom were pacified by provisions exempting them from certain aspects of the treaty. Eighteen years later, the path towards ever-closer Union has been completely derailed, the news of the day filled by the possibility that, come January, the European Union will be on the road to disintegration--at least in the form that we currently know.
In an effort to avoid the fate of the former Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who was thrown out of office one year ago with the lowest approval ratings in Irish history after forcing a European bailout on his countrymen, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou made a startling announcement that he would be putting the terms of the European Union's Greek bailout, decided at a summit of European leaders last week, to a popular referendum
. Recent polls indicate that the bailout is massively unpopular among the Greeks, and unless Papandreou has some trick up his sleeve, the vote in January will be to oppose the bailout. This means that Greece will default and suffer economic collapse, the contagion poisoning what is left of European stability. It will also be the likely first step towards Greece's departure from the Euro
currency; perhaps the first of several departures. It will be economic chaos that could very well thrust the world back into a large recession. While that consequence is undesirable, I contend that this is better for Europe in the long-run.
My reasoning for this is that the European Union's leadership went too far last week in assaulting the sovereignty of the people of Europe. Despite the efforts of the German Bundestag and the British House of Commons
against it, the "stability union" was approved after Chancellor Merkel's warnings of war in Europe should it fail. This union permits to the European Union the power to approve or disapprove the budgets of member-states--that is, to control the taxation and spending policies of individual nations. In effect, this means that the governments of individual states are no longer answerable to their people on one of their most fundamental reasons for existence: decisions on taxation and spending. With this new "stability union" the power over fiscal policy now belongs to centralized bureaucrats in Brussels, not Europe's national leaders. This cannot be. Though the economic consequences could be terrible for the whole world, Greece is right to challenge
this. The popular tide in Europe has always been opposed to the elite-driven experiment in union, and now Europe's oligarchs have gone a step too far. Damn the torpedoes.