Opinion article by Panos T. Xenokostas*
The British people last week did not make a choice but rather a prediction. A prediction which the average citizen of the EU countries realizes through his own life. Without a political union, without an economic union, without a conscious choice or decision of a Federal state, it is not possible for someone to believe that a monetary union and a free trade zone is sufficient in order to achieve prosperity through a common vision. The Vision of the EU founders does not exist anymore.
Realism from the British side then, while at the same time let’s see how the other side of the Union reacted. With an attempt to demonstrate determination towards the “lost sheep” which dared to express its disdain to those who tried to impose a new Leadership which was unknown, non-transparent and invisible. What is the only visible thing from this new Leadership of Europe? Its high annual budgets, its endless bureaucracy and the lack of a basic Vision and objectives. While the problems that are emerging globally are huge and the co-operation with the United States should be close for potential solutions through realistic policies and not through punishment, we are socked to see attitudes that don’t refer to a Union but rather to opposite military camps which remind us of situations that go back 40 years ago in the former century.
We should clarify here that of course there should be a leadership for Europe and this to come from those who know, those who want and are able and not from those who live through theory and endless levity. But doesn’t leadership mean enforcement of the law of the fittest at all costs? As this is the case during the last couple of years, the British, wisely, decided not to comply with a union which is ultimately the cover of an economic empire in which no one wishes willingly to enter.
And continuing with the reaction from the EU side, as this shows in essence its intention not to comprehend the current issues and challenges but rather enforce a strategy which no one knows how exactly it was decided and why it is difficult to change or adjust: incredibly expected! “Revengeful” to “revanchist” is the attitude of part of the partners, who rushed to “expel” the most important economy “the soonest possible”. They spoke on behalf of the 27 countries, while none of them realized that maybe most of the members are already wondering whether Britain did the right thing by sending a message to the Union that it has taken the wrong path. And whether today’s politics, with which the whole South and France, besides their leadership, disagree, is the right one or whether it should change. To change the politics not only in order to satisfy the popular needs and “relax for the relaxation”, but for important issues in order to confront the economic and social challenges of today and not the future.
And these are not the same for every Country and cannot be solved by closing the borders, or imposing capital controls and raising the taxes, reducing the salaries, bail in and other “innovative” tools that kill the next generation and destroy the social fabric by raising generations of anti-Europeans. And it is wrong, even if these take place with the consent of the Governments and the Parliaments, as it is a common secret that the way things happen leave those who draft the laws as well as those who vote them with no other option. And that’s why these are not implemented, except those which refer to horizontal measures of internal devaluation. The result is that Europe is raising new generations without Vision, Hope and Dream. New generations that will only inherit debts and no future from the previous generations. In other words, they inherit a Europe that is dying and is simply not just an Old Continent but a very Old and sick one…
It is true that in the EU circles, security, progress and growth developed which many countries would not be able to see if they were not part of it. However, during the last couple of years a reverse situation began, which tends to take from crisis dimensions, to a consolidated situation and reach the dimensions of a new reality. And among all these, what happens to Greece?
First of all, the program once more will not succeed. Everyone knows that and those who don’t are dangerous either due to ignorance or by incurable romanticism. That’s how the so called “chopper” was anticipated. For all the next steps to take place automatically and with less “Greek Drama”. Therefore, Greece will continue to move in the sphere of a recessional spiral with the same, if not, increasing rate. Of course no one feels this at the moment, as they compare it to last year which was extremely bad.
What will happen in the forthcoming period? No one can be certain, as planning is not the strong card of the Union and dogmatism has taken over with resolutions according to the circumstances. It appears that Britain will follow its own timeframe for the exit, giving time to a possible change of a new Leadership in Europe that could adjust to the current circumstances. In addition, the next day of the US elections will determine the future of many issues, as well as the acceleration or for the general good, the transformation/acceleration of TTIP.
The development above is not the choice of the Union or the economic architect’s Mr. Schauble, who knows that these situations do not favor the politics of tough Euro. And because the acceleration of the political and economic Union does not seem to be a priority, if not an objective anymore, probably the selection of accelerating a Eurobond in order to safeguard the Union is looming. At this point, the thorn of the Greek economic situation is an obstacle and should be dealt with. A discussion about the debt with the presence of the European leadership is not anticipated before 2018, and if and when they manage to complete all those that have been planned to fail. Therefore, the reintroduction of the proposal of the 5 years “holidays” with two parallel currencies (Schauble’s plan), is more than ever visible. Maybe the stage that the Greek Economy has reached at the moment leads to a one-way solution for the greatly sought “re-start”, as no other solution is visible.
The organized and massive investments that Greece needs will never come under the current circumstances, although all of us wish for the contrary. The wishes are not enough though. Greece needs something powerful in order to wake up from the economic lethargy and the social crisis. And this should be a combination of opportunity and stability. While a year ago we had stressed that “Grexit is off” but “Brexit is On”, today we could say that “Brexit is done” and “Grexit is on again”. And this time, maybe for the first time, we should discuss this as a reality and not as a scenario.
Something like this which will of course take place in the name of Europe’s union will ultimately and inevitably lead to its shrinkage. It is now a matter of time for Europe to shrink with the current leadership. And this will be by choice and not evolution. And maybe an idea of a second union with more Britain, European south and the US model of development will become a new alternative solution, the other pole, which no one can exclude anymore, as Britain opened a new road in History. And the only certain think in History, is its repetition. This is something that certain leaders in the European North ignore…and if it happens it will be the third time in the last 100 years…
*Panos T. Xenokostas is the President and CEO of ONEX Hellenic Aviation