• 17 OCT 2011
By Gwyn Prins | Mail Online
That was Winston Churchill's view in 1946. Now, as a historic Commons vote on Europe approaches, a leading historian says the time is right for a new deal
Every week, it seems, the eurozone leaders come up with another plan to solve their intractable sovereign debt crisis and every week, the markets have another heart attack.
The latest rescue attempt – a €440billion (£385billion) bailout fund – falls far short of the estimated €2trillion (£1.75trillion) of credible, not leveraged, money needed to stop contagion spreading from Greece to Spain and Italy.
Confidence that the fund will work is not high. But there is not – yet – political appetite for the only device that might save the day: a split into ‘hard’ EuroNord, with Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria, and a ‘soft’ EuroSud of the rest.
Europe’s leaders insist that there is no alternative to the EU as it is today. By doing so they risk making the coming crash even more explosive. There are no painless outcomes. The vital imperative is to find solutions that will avoid civil unrest in the South on a far greater scale than yet seen in Greece, or harsher nationalism in the North, outcomes that seem inevitable without a change of direction.
Surely the time is right to look analytically at Britain’s options? Should we walk away from the EU, as some of the more vocal Eurosceptics demand? Or – as the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary insist – is our economy so entwined with Europe’s that leaving would be economic suicide?
For Britain, the cost/benefit calculations are changing fast. Staying in the EU may give us the lazy bribe of the odd billion from EU subsidy to disadvantaged areas – £8.24billion of the EU total of £270billion between 2007 and 2013 – and a few more to landowners under the CAP.
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