Tuesday 20 February 2018

Alarm bells as European dream fades

Countries will tire of bailouts and exiting the euro may just pull Ireland out of its rut, writes Ivor Roberts

Sir Ivor Roberts

It's now quite clear that the vaulting ambition of the architects of the euro was just that, vaulting. It quite literally overleaps itself. The failure to impose the strict discipline which had originally been required of all who committed to the euro did not of course begin with countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Among the very first to offend were those current high priests of fiscal orthodoxy, the French and the Germans, some eight years ago who got off scot- free.

While the European Commission wanted to put France and Germany on notice that they had violated the treaty establishing monetary union, which prohibited excessive deficits, the Council of Finance Ministers, led of course by the French and Germans, refused to endorse the Commission's recommendations.

I still remember Charlie McCreevy, finance minister at the time, complaining to me and other EU ambassadors in Dublin in 2003, railing against the EU's double standards in castigating the smalls while ignoring the transgressions of the bigs. A doubly bitter blow for countries like Ireland, which had always regarded the Commission as being able to stand up for and be the guardians of the smalls' interests.

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