How Europe takes financial decisions

Meeting of ECOFIN (picture European Council)

The Daily Telegraph kindly published a letter from me today on the unfolding financial crisis, but edited it so as to delete the main point I was trying to make.

I was responding to an article by Janet Daley that criticised the secrecy of the European summit that attempted to agree a collective response, comparing it unfavourably with the open nature of the bailout debate in the United States. Of course, anyone familiar with this blog will know that the EU should be just as open in its decision-making as any of its member states: what is going on at European level is politics and not international relations, and should be run according to the rules of democracy and not those of diplomacy.

Janet Daley’s article is here, and the reply I sent was as follows:

“Janet Daley is right to prefer the openness of the debate in the US Congress to the secrecy of the European summit in Paris on Saturday, but she draws the wrong conclusions. (Comment, October 6) The fall in the London stock market after the unilateral German decision to guarantee bank deposits shows that whatever each country does will have an impact on its neighbours. A round of beggar my neighbour policies will leave us all beggars.

“What this crisis shows is that we need more European political decision-making, not less, but with the same degree of openness and public involvement as we are used to at national level or as we see across the Atlantic. Not for the first time, the American experience of federal government has lessons for Europe.”

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