Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking
- J.M. Keynes

Thursday, 28 June 2012

European Summit Imitates Jane Austen


“Really, you puzzle me exceedingly. If what I have hitherto said can appear to you in the form of encouragement, I know not how to express my refusal in such a way as may convince you of its being one.”

This incidentally was not spoken by Mrs Merkel on the subject of Eurobonds. The original speaker was Miss Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She had refused a proposal of marriage from the obsequious Mr Collins. He couldn’t believe that he had been rejected and kept pressing on leading to her exasperated remark above.

Mrs Merkel was more direct: A joint and several liability in Europe would not be “solange ich lebe” (as long as I live). But the emotion and intent is still lost on the present day Mr Collins’. Barroso, Van Rompuy, Rajoy, Monti, Hollande and every other leader of a broke European country along with the punditry just cannot believe that Germany can refuse Eurobonds. Like Mr Collins, they keep going on and on, “When I do myself the honour of speaking to you next on the subject, I shall hope to receive a more favourable answer than you have now given me…You must give me leave to flatter myself…that your refusal of my addresses is merely words of course.”

The sheer disbelief at Germany’s refusal for debt mutualisation is unbelievable. All politics is local and decisions are made in view of the electorate. The Italians, Spanish or French are not going to elect Mrs Merkel. Her policy aims to be in tune with the voters in Germany. According to the latest poll 67% of Germans trust the government to take the right decisions about the future of the EU. Further, 44% of Germans are in support of the current policy of imposing strict conditionality. And finally 37% feel that Germany has already done enough. In light of this and the fact that German elections are next year, it is unlikely that Mrs Merkel is going to change her mind. (The regional elections that her party keeps losing are not fought on European issues. Again, all politics is local).

As Elizabeth finally cried out in frustration, “I thank you again and again for the honour you have done me in your proposals, but to accept them is absolutely impossible.”

P.S. Rather than watch the boring summit, see the BBC adaptation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWx7AF8B0R8

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