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Not with a Bang, but a Whimper . . . .

The "EU Ethic"

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. (The flash drive includes the anti-fascist books avail­able on this site.)

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s pro­pa­ganda chief, once said: ‘In 50 years’ time nobody will think of nation states.’

NB: Updated on 4/26/2013.

COMMENT: In recent years, we’ve been treated to plenty of right-wing conspiracy theories about “One World Government/New World Order” etc. Intoning about the looming apocalypse in which the United Nations would take over the United States using Russian troops, guided by secret directions on the back of traffic signs, they have garnered a surprising degree of attention.

Meanwhile a very real erosion of national sovereignty and personal liberty is taking place under our noses in Europe. In Europe, the nation-state is being forced into obsolescence, and there is little discussion of this staggering development.

Instead, we are hearing about the Boston bombing, gay marriage, the sequester, Korea and the “usual suspects,” the Kardashian family and the other denizens of the Tabloid Empire.

With the citizens of Greece having had the neo-fascist LAOS party installed by fiat, courtesy of the “troika,” and with the German government having reviewed the Irish budget BEFORE that country’s parliament had seen it, fundamental incursions on sovereignty are becoming routine with relatively little notice. (Photo credit at right: TattooArtists.org.)

Der Siegel makes an ass out of itself

Angela Merkel has formally stated that EU members must surrender sovereignty on fiscal matters. Quietly, the EU is turning to controlling media, while Europol, its police force, has successfully taken a number of steps that many would see as intrusive, with little or no real application to law enforcement.

We find the media component of the EU’s regulatory machinery to be particularly ominous. Note the recent New York Times story below, the latest in a series of articles that have surfaced about how desperate things have gotten in Greece.

Der Spiegel recently floated a disinformation piece about Germans being poorer than the citizens of southern Europe. In the future, might we see stories like the Times piece censored, because such things are deemed to be “bad” for austerity.

There has been much talk of the curtailing of privacy and civil liberties in the wake of 9/11. Sovereign nations can–theoretically–reverse course at any time and implement legislative and executive initiatives to correct imbalances of any kind. 

How would one go about correcting the imposition of anti-democratic institutions by foreign nations?

Americans should be aware of the possibilities here. Could a future trade pact between Europe and the U.S. rope America into the German straight jacket?

Oh, and why DID Germany just move its gold bullion reserves out of American and British vaults? What do they have in mind?

“Merkel Says Euro Members Must Be Prepared to Cede Sovereignty” by Noah Barkin; Reuters; 4/22/2013.

EXCERPT: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that euro zone members must be prepared to cede control over certain policy domains to European institutions if the bloc is truly to overcome its debt crisis and win back foreign investors.

Speaking at an event hosted by Deutsche Bank in Berlin alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Merkel also defended her approach to the crisis against critics who argue she has put too much emphasis on austerity, saying Europe must find a way to deliver both growth and solid finances.

The comments came two months before European leaders are due to gather in Brussels to discuss moving towards a so-called “fiscal union.

Expectations are low, in part because an easing of the crisis has reduced pressure on leaders to produce a big leap forward in integration, but also due to differences between Germany and its partners, notably France, over the next steps.

“We seem to find common solutions when we are staring over the abyss,” Merkel said. “But as soon as the pressure eases, people say they want to go their own way.

“We need to be ready to accept that Europe has the last word in certain areas. Otherwise we won’t be able to continue to build Europe,” she added.
Tusk said it would be “dangerous” if other countries in Europe felt Germany was imposing its own economic model across the entire bloc. . . .

“New EU Gestapo Spies on Britons ” by Mary Reynolds; Daily Express; 3/26/2010.

EXCERPT: Europol can access personal information on anyone – including their political opinions and sexual preferences – if it suspects, rightly or wrongly, that they may be involved in any “preparatory act” which could lead to criminal activity.

The vagueness of the Hague-based force’s remit sparked furious protests yesterday with critics warning that the EU snoopers threaten our right to free speech. . . .

. . . . Until January 1, Europol was a police office funded by various states to help tackle international organised crime. But it has been reborn as the official criminal intelligence-gathering arm of the EU and Brussels has vastly increased its powers.

It can now target more than simply organised crime and the burden of proof required to begin monitoring an individual has been downgraded.
Europol has also been absorbed into the EU superstructure, so it will be centrally funded, sweeping away a key check on its independence.

Campaigners last night expressed concern over the vague list of “serious crimes” which the agency can help investigate, which include racism and xenophobia, environmental crime and corruption. Among personal details that can be gathered and stored are “behavioural data” including “lifestyle and routine; movements; places frequented”, tax position and profiles of DNA and voice.

Where relevant, Europol will also be able to keep data on a person’s “political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or trade union membership and data concerning health or sex life”.

Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance, warned that it threatened our right to free speech.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Europol has been handed these rather frightening powers,” he said. “We now live in a pan-European state so it was to be expected that it would have a federal police force with powers over us.

“There is a real danger that opposition to EU policies could make an individual liable to arrest. . . .

“EU Uses Public Cash to Back Groups that Want to Stifle Press Freedom” by Daniel Martin; Daily Mail [UK]; 4/14/2013.

EXCERPT: Brussels is pumping millions of pounds of public money into groups dedicated to stifling a free Press, it emerged yesterday.

The European Commission is helping to fund groups seeking state-backed regulation of newspapers, including key allies of Hugh Grant’s Hacked Off campaign.

One – called Mediadem – has a mission statement to ‘reclaim a free and independent media’ and is demanding tougher sanctions than ‘an apology or correction’.

The EU has spent £2.3million on the previously unpublicised project.

The commission says it wants to be a ‘moral compass’ against press misconduct and is seeking new national and Europe-wide regulatory powers against newspapers.

But critics say it is only taking such a stance because of the unfavourable coverage that European institutions get in the Press.

Philip Davies, a Tory member of the Culture Select Committee, said: ‘Given the scandals in the EU and revelations of its misappropriation of funding, it is no surprise that Europe wants to restrict the free press which can uncover its corruption. . . .

“Euro­pean Union Spend­ing Mil­lions to Silence Critics” by Samuel Westrop; The Gatestone Institute; 4/254/2013.

EXCERPT: Auditors have refused to sign off on EU accounts for 18 years in a row, and EU officials have been sacked for exposing corruption and fraud within the vast bureaucracy.

The European Union (EU) is pouring millions of pounds into organizations that advocate state control of the press. For many, the funding — uncovered recently by Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan — is yet further evidence of the EU’s increasingly Orwellian, authoritarian nature. . . .

. . . . One recipient of European taxpayers’ money, Mediadem, for example, has been given 2.3 million pounds. Mediadem describes its mission as working to “reclaim a free and independent media.” Addressing the topical issue of how to restructure the system of redress for those wrongfully accused or defamed by newspapers, Mediadem recommends the “imposition of sanctions beyond an apology or correction” and the “co-ordination of the journalistic profession at the European level.”

Mediadem’s representative, Dr Craufurd Smith, has written, “Liberal conceptions of media freedom focus on editorial freedom for government interference…. [however] states may also be required to take positive measures to curtail the influence of powerful economic or political groups…. this entails that neither the media, nor those individuals who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to freedom of expression.”

This is not the first time the EU has sought to control freedom of expression. In 2001, the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU was allowed to suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures. The court ruled that the EU was lawfully allowed to punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation.”

The European Court of Justice is the EU’s highest court. Its advocate general, Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, had previously argued that a book criticizing EU financial policy was akin to extreme blasphemy, and thus not protected by free speech laws.

The attack against freedom of expression has extended to economic information. In 2011, an EU official proposed a ban on the issuing of sovereign credit ratings for countries in bailout talks. Michel Barnier, a European internal market commissioner, said, “I think it’s legitimate to have a special treatment when a country is in negotiation or is covered by an international solidarity program with the IMF or a European solidarity”.

“Germans Poorer than Cypriots” by Bojan Pancevski; Sunday Times [UK]; 4/21/2013.

EXCERPT: Angela Merkel has come under intense pressure ahead of September’s election over a study that shows Germans are poorer than the southern Europeans bailed out in large part by the German taxpayer.

The study, by the European Central Bank (ECB), revealed that the average German household is poorer than those in countries such as Cyprus, Spain and Greece.

A German household, according to the ECB research, has assets of €195,000 (£167,000). That figure is more than three times higher in Cyprus, the latest eurozone country to receive a bailout, where the average net wealth of households amounts to €671,000 (£575,000).

The news prompted a backlash in the German press. The bestselling tabloid Bild ran a series of articles with headlines such as “Bankrupt Cypriots earn more than Germans!”. . . .

“More Children in Greece Are Going Hungry”by Liz Alderman; The New York Times; 4/17/2013.

EXCERPT: As an ele­men­tary school prin­ci­pal, Leonidas Nikas is used to see­ing chil­dren play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen some­thing alto­gether dif­fer­ent, some­thing he thought was impos­si­ble in Greece: chil­dren pick­ing through school trash cans for food; needy young­sters ask­ing play­mates for left­overs; and an 11-year-old boy, Pan­telis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.

“He had eaten almost noth­ing at home,” Mr. Nikas said, sit­ting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class sub­urb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skit­tered across the play­ground. He con­fronted Pantelis’s par­ents, who were ashamed and embar­rassed but admit­ted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their sav­ings were gone, and they were liv­ing on rations of pasta and ketchup.

“Not in my wildest dreams would I expect to see the sit­u­a­tion we are in,” Mr. Nikas said. “We have reached a point where chil­dren in Greece are com­ing to school hun­gry. Today, fam­i­lies have dif­fi­cul­ties not only of employ­ment, but of survival.”

The Greek econ­omy is in free fall, hav­ing shrunk by 20 per­cent in the past five years. The unem­ploy­ment rate is more than 27 per­cent, the high­est in Europe, and 6 of 10 job seek­ers say they have not worked in more than a year. Those dry sta­tis­tics are reshap­ing the lives of Greek fam­i­lies with chil­dren, more of whom are arriv­ing at schools hun­gry or under­fed, even mal­nour­ished, accord­ing to pri­vate groups and the gov­ern­ment itself.

Last year, an esti­mated 10 per­cent of Greek ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents suf­fered from what pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als call “food inse­cu­rity,” mean­ing they faced hunger or the risk of it, said Dr. Athena Linos, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Athens Med­ical School who also heads a food assis­tance pro­gram at Pro­lep­sis, a non­govern­men­tal pub­lic health group that has stud­ied the sit­u­a­tion. “When it comes to food inse­cu­rity, Greece has now fallen to the level of some African coun­tries,” she said. . . .

 

Discussion

4 comments for “Not with a Bang, but a Whimper . . . .”

  1. Now that the theoretical justifications for austerity-onomics have been obliterated, it looks like we saw some sort of PR pushback in Europe this week as the usual suspects continue to double-down on why more austerity is the only way forward. As part of that PR push, one of the arguments we’re hearing is that austerity alone can’t do get the job done. Instead, the only way forward for the ailing eurozone economies is to see the private sector drive economic growth and for that to happen we need austerity AND “reforms”. Those reforms, it turns out, appear to look a lot like the same “austerity” policies we’ve been seeing all along. “Expansionary austerity”, as we’re learning, was never about expanding the economy. It was about expanding the austerity:

    Germany’s Merkel: austerity is part of solution to Europe’s problems, but reforms needed too
    Published April 26, 2013

    Associated Press

    BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined Germany’s insistence that austerity is part of the solution to Europe’s financial crisis but emphasized that reforms to make labor laws more flexible and encourage private investment also are essential.

    Calls are mounting across Europe for Berlin to relent on an austerity drive that’s become increasingly unpopular in other countries.

    Merkel told a business conference Friday that there’s much talk in Europe of growth “but sometimes the understanding is that there can only be growth when the state invests.” She said that normally private investment drives growth.

    Merkel argued that reforming Europe “is not just a question of austerity, as it’s called today.” Seeing through other economic reforms is also necessary, she said.

    One of the open questions in this entire eurodebacle is just how much resentment and contempt will be developed between eurozone member nations if these policies just continue to drag on and on (or there’s a renewed mega-crisis) because based on what we’re hearing out of Berlin there’s pretty much no reason to assume economic stagnation isn’t continue to continue for years. Is there going to be any trans-continental goodwill left at the end of this? After all, wasn’t building a sense of European identity and a shared future half the reason for creating the entire EU and eurozone in the first place? Well, based on Wolfgang Schauble’s recent comments it looks like maybe there is a plan to address this inevitable collapse of confidence in each other: Wait it out, because you know that at some point the proles are going to forgive and forget. It remains to be seen if lobotomies will be required for this approach to work:

    AFP
    Schäuble: Cypriot anger at Germany will pass

    Published: 28 Mar 13 14:01 CET

    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Thursday that he understood Cypriot anger over the tough terms of its international bailout but said it would fade eventually.

    When times are very tough “then you look for someone to project your anger onto,” he told local radio broadcaster SWR2, when asked about public ire in Cyprus against Germany, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

    “That will pass. It is of course completely unfounded,” he added.

    Rising anger against Germany as the paymaster for eurozone bailout packages and its most influential member state has rattled officials in Berlin.

    Demonstrators on the streets of Nicosia brandishing posters depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel as an Adolf Hitler figure bent on European domination have received wide media coverage.

    German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger was quoted Wednesday as saying that European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy ought to help rein in anti-German sentiment.

    “Germany is showing solidarity so that in the end the crisis countries have a future,” she told Munich’s daily Merkur.

    “So I would indeed ask that the people at the top – the Commission president and the Council president – demonstrate solidarity with us and defend the Germans against unjustified accusations,” she concluded.

    “That will pass. It is of course completely unfounded.” Waiting out the anger might seem like kind of a crazy plan considering the years of stress that some of these nations are going through, but maybe it’s not so crazy:

    Global Post
    Iceland election looks set to turn the country back to the right
    Charlotte McDonald-Gibson April 26, 2013 06:00

    Despite being the parties blamed for driving them to the brink, Icelanders are widely predicted to elect center-right leaders in Saturday’s key parliamentary vote.

    BRUSSELS, Belgium — For a country as dependent on fishing as Iceland, the image is harsh but apt. “Memories like goldfish,” says political analyst Silla Sigurgeirsdottir as she tries to explain why some Icelanders might on Saturday vote for the parties blamed for the 2008 banking collapse.

    Hordur Torfason, a popular Icelandic folk singer, is more forthright: “I don’t believe that people are so stupid as to vote for these parties.”

    The polls, however, paint a different picture. Parliamentary elections this weekend are forecast to deliver a stinging rejection of the center-left coalition led by Johanna Sigurdardottir, in another sign that Europe’s voters are tiring of the financial hardships governments demand of them as they try to get the economies back on track.

    Icelanders are instead expected to flock back to two center-right parties — the Progressive Party and the Independence Party — whose policies of financial deregulation were blamed for the collapse of the three largest banks, a default on $85 billion of debt, and the nation’s worst recession in decades.

    “People are struggling, and this group of people — mainly middle class — think that this government has not done enough for them,” says Sigurgeirsdottir, a political science lecturer at the University of Iceland.

    That the particular opposition party now campaigning as the champion of ordinary families is the party whose policies helped the nation accumulate its crippling debt is an irony not lost on Sigurgeirsdottir.

    “People tend to forget [that] it was the Progressive Party who offered in the 2003 campaign to raise the mortgage level up to 90 percent of the market price, and the households now struggling are struggling because of that policy,” she says. “And now they [the Progressive Party] say they are going to lift your burden.”

    The Progressive Party leader, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, has said he will force foreign creditors to take a haircut on some of their frozen investments and use the money to fund a cut in people’s mortgages. Understandably, this policy strikes a chord with voters, even if economists warn that it could backfire and scare off further foreign investment.

    Analysts say the capital controls measures will be a key issue for any new government. Businesses complain that the stringent restrictions are preventing investment, but lifting them could spark a sudden outflow of capital, causing the krona to devalue further.

    The Independence Party has vowed to lift the controls and lower taxes. Its leader, Bjarni Benediktsson, told the Financial Times the controls “are like a banner over Iceland saying that the people don’t believe in their currency.”

    Sigurdardottir, Iceland’s first female leader and the first openly gay prime minister in Europe, is popular and widely respected, but she announced last year that she would not run for re-election.

    Her Social Democratic party is widely seen to have misread the public mood and campaigned on joining the European Union.

    The emergence of smaller protest parties, like the ones that transformed Italy’s political landscape earlier this year, has also split the vote on the left, where many people are disappointed that the government did not push through constitutional reform.

    Polls suggest support for the Social Democrats may drop to as low as 14 percent. The Progressive Party is projected to get up to 30 percent of the vote, and the Independence Party a little less. That raises the likelihood of exactly the same Progressive-Independence coalition that ruled Iceland in the boom years from 1995 to 2007, which eventually led to the catastrophic bust.

    That is almost unthinkable to the activists like Torfason. “Sometimes humans have to walk into the wall and break our nose before we understand what we are doing,” he says. “I’m just hoping it will not happen, but if it does happen, I think I will have to move away.”

    What’s that classic H. L. Mencken quote? No one ever went broke underestimating…something something…I forget the rest.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 26, 2013, 1:27 pm
  2. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3684/eu-propaganda

    European Union Spending Millions to Silence Critics

    by Samuel Westrop
    April 25, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Auditors have refused to sign off on EU accounts for 18 years in a row, and EU officials have been sacked for exposing corruption and fraud within the vast bureaucracy.

    The European Union (EU) is pouring millions of pounds into organizations that advocate state control of the press. For many, the funding — uncovered recently by Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan — is yet further evidence of the EU’s increasingly Orwellian, authoritarian nature. The Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has for years referred to the organization as the EUSSR.

    One recipient of European taxpayers’ money, Mediadem, for example, has been given 2.3 million pounds. Mediadem describes its mission as working to “reclaim a free and independent media.” Addressing the topical issue of how to restructure the system of redress for those wrongfully accused or defamed by newspapers, Mediadem recommends the “imposition of sanctions beyond an apology or correction” and the “co-ordination of the journalistic profession at the European level.”

    Mediadem’s representative, Dr Craufurd Smith, has written, “Liberal conceptions of media freedom focus on editorial freedom for government interference…. [however] states may also be required to take positive measures to curtail the influence of powerful economic or political groups…. this entails that neither the media, nor those individuals who own or work for the media, enjoy an absolute right to freedom of expression.”

    This is not the first time the EU has sought to control freedom of expression. In 2001, the European Court of Justice ruled that the EU was allowed to suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures. The court ruled that the EU was lawfully allowed to punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation.”

    The European Court of Justice is the EU’s highest court. Its advocate general, Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, had previously argued that a book criticizing EU financial policy was akin to extreme blasphemy, and thus not protected by free speech laws.

    The attack against freedom of expression has extended to economic information. In 2011, an EU official proposed a ban on the issuing of sovereign credit ratings for countries in bailout talks. Michel Barnier, a European internal market commissioner, said, “I think it’s legitimate to have a special treatment when a country is in negotiation or is covered by an international solidarity program with the IMF or a European solidarity”.

    In the wake of the Leveson Report, a British parliamentary inquiry into the “ethics of the Press,” an EU report called for tighter press regulation and demanded that the EU should be given new powers to enforce fines or the sacking of journalists against errant media outlets.

    Much of the EU’s keenness to intervene comes from its concern at the negative coverage it receives in the British press. When the EU is not proposing to regulate the press, it is spending vast sums on pro-EU advertising. In 2012, the EU spent £682 million of British taxpayers’ money on its enormous public relations department.

    Some of this money has been funnelled into the creation of “Captain Euro.” an online children’s comic book, in which the integrationist super-hero battles against an “evil organization” that is “hard at work in the shadows.”

    Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has noted there is a whiff of anti-Semitism to the cartoon. The “enemy” of Captain Euro, called Dr Vider, has a prominently hooked nose and uses the free market to make money, “no matter if it might involve the suffering of others.” It is further explained that, “Banned and ostracised from the financial world for unprofessional conduct he managed to escape arrest despite his involvement in financial scandal.”

    An internal EU report goes some way in explaining the fondness for comic books, by concluding, “Children can perform a messenger function in conveying the message to the home environment. Young people will often in practice act as go-betweens with the older generations, helping them embrace the euro.”

    In 2012, the EU spent £106,000 on a video in which a white woman, dressed in EU colors, overcame threatening, dark-skinned martial arts attackers. The video was withdrawn after complaints of racism. Further, various EU youth groups have produced music videos — in one of which, European youths sing, “I am European, and I love it to be, I am European, it’s my destiny.”

    While the EU is happy to use the Internet to disseminate pro-EU propaganda, it also advocates the regulation of Internet content. In 2012, the EU proposed the “harmonization” of laws across the 27 member-states to force websites to delete information shortly after consumers request its removal. The EU also funds a number of a projects designed to explore censorship of “terrorist” content on the Internet.

    There is a joke in Brussels that if the European Union were a country applying to join itself, it would be rejected on the grounds of being undemocratic. But it is not much of a joke. The EU is run by a body that combines legislative and executive power, with an unelected President at the very top. According to a recent Parliamentary report, widespread fraud has led to more than £4 billion of taxpayer’s money “disappearing” from the EU budget each year. Auditors have refused to sign off EU accounts for eighteen years in a row and EU officials have been sacked for exposing corruption and fraud within the vast bureaucracy.

    The European Union’s flaws are best summed up by Sholto Byrnes, who wrote in the Independent: “All it takes to have a profound suspicion of the EU and its greedy accretion of powers is this: to believe in transparency and accountability; to feel in your bones that sovereignty should not be passed from nation state to international body without the voters being consulted; and to desire that those voters should be as close as possible to the representatives they elect. To be, in other words, a democrat.”

    Unable to counteract criticism of its failings through meaningful reform, the European Union is resorting to undisguised propaganda and proposed regulation of its critics.

    Posted by Vanfield | April 26, 2013, 3:31 pm
  3. You don’t have to teach an old dog new tricks if the old tricks still work. The smaller states out of which Germany was formed were subjugated to the reich not by Bismarck’s wars but by uniform customs laws. Loss of sovereignty over financial matters is a total surrender of sovereignty. EU countries will get to keep their quaint names and differing colors on the map for all that those things are worth.

    Posted by Dwight | April 27, 2013, 4:05 pm
  4. It would be a lot more reassuring if the voices that are constantly demanding more pointless austerity shouting inside the heads of EU lawmakers were just auditory hallucinations:

    Bloomberg
    Euro Capitals Tighten Fiscal Leash as EU Polices Cuts
    By Ian Wishart – Oct 17, 2013 4:04 AM CT

    In Madrid, the government is paring spending on roads and rails. In Rome, state property is to be sold off. In The Hague, lawmakers agreed to the second set of extraordinary cuts in two years.

    Even with the 17-nation euro area projecting economic expansion next year for the first time since 2011, policy makers are keeping a fiscal leash on growth by maintaining austerity policies born in the fight to save the euro.

    That’s because for the first time officials in Brussels will get to review spending plans before they are approved by national parliaments. The European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, was empowered to demand revisions in a bid to impose discipline and encourage coordination.

    “The pressure to continue with austerity is unabated,” said Paul De Grauwe, a professor at the London School of Economics.

    While there are no new penalties built into the system, the EU says that by pointing out flaws in the draft budgets that had to be submitted by Oct. 15, governments can mend their ways.

    “Don’t underestimate the impact of the upcoming so-called two-pack,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said on Oct. 2 in Brussels, referring to the two pieces of EU legislation that authorized the budget oversight. “It won’t make Brussels more popular in our capitals.”

    Demands for rigor follow three years of euro-area cost-cutting that totaled 216.7 billion euros ($293 billion). That exceeds the size of the Greek economy.

    Primary Surpluses

    Cyclically adjusted primary-balance figures, a measure of fiscal health before interest expense that attempts to factor out economic swings, show the savings since 2010. The euro area moved from an average deficit of 2.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 to what the EU forecast in May will be a positive balance of 1.7 percent of GDP at the end of 2013.

    In Ireland, the cyclically adjusted primary balance will have moved from a deficit of 25.4 percent of GDP in 2010 to a 2.3 percent deficit in 2013, according to the EU forecasts. Greece has seen a deficit of 2.6 percent in 2010 shift to a predicted 6.3 percent of GDP positive balance in 2013.

    Still, following six quarters of contraction, the longest slump since the euro’s debut in 1999, the debt burden has only grown. As a percentage of GDP, debt has increased across the single currency region to an average of 92.2 percent after the first quarter of 2013 from 85.6 percent at the end of 2010.

    Debt Loads

    Even after the biggest sovereign restructuring ever, Greece’s load rose to 160.5 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2013 from 148.3 percent at the end of 2010. In the same period, Italy’s rose to 130.3 percent from 119.3 percent.

    There has never been a penalty imposed on a country for exceeding the EU debt limit of 60 percent or its annual deficit ceiling of 3 percent.

    “In case there is a deviation from the European commitments by a member state and the European Commission has to say ‘sorry guys, please revise your budgetary plan,’ most likely the market reaction will be quite negative,” Olli Rehn, the EU’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner, told a conference in Vilnius via video link yesterday. He said the goal of the commission was to provide policy advice during the planning process, not to “veto national budgets.”

    The advice is being taken on board.

    “Peer pressure is only strong if the case is convincing,” Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee that helped shape the legislation, said in a telephone interview. He’s concerned that a lack of consistency in advice given to countries may undermine budget cops’ credibility.

    “Europe needs integration where competencies are national but not on an arbitrary basis,” Giegold said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2013, 11:36 am

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