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Thursday, July 30, 2015 4:26 PM

Which Will It Be: United States of Europe OR United States of Germany?

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Socialists Seek to Outvote Germany

In the wake of the near-Grexit, France and Italy seek more powers for the European Commission (EC).

And both countries want another parliament with more power. Their unstated goal is to create a United States of Europe where socialists would outvote the Germans.

Germany Seeks to Prevent Being Outvoted

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has a completely different idea: Schäuble Outlines Plan to Limit European Commission Powers.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble is proposing to strip the European Commission of some of its core oversight powers in an effort to avoid politicising EU decision-making at a time when the executive body has touted its new partisan role in Europe.

The European Commission has quasi-judicial authority over some of the most sensitive Europe-wide decision making, particularly in the area of merger approvals and antitrust monitoring, powers that could be moved to independent bodies under Mr Schäuble’s plan.

Berlin has also long called for the eurozone’s budget rules to be triggered automatically when a country breaches EU debt and deficit ceilings, and has complained bitterly that France has been given repeated waivers by the commission despite violating those limits for years — waivers some have viewed as politically motivated.

François Hollande, the French president, pressed for the eurozone overhaul almost immediately after the Greek deal was reached and, in a recent interview in the Financial Times, Italian finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan called for a rapid move to a full political union.

However, the new ideas being advanced have highlighted the differences between eurozone countries on the way forward, particularly between the French and Italian camp and Berlin.

Both Paris and Rome are emphasising a pooling of resources, either in the form of a eurozone budget or a common EU unemployment scheme, while Berlin is focusing on giving the eurozone’s rules more bite and less interference from political forces.
Battle Line

The battle lines are clear: Stricter Rules and Less EC vs. Fewer Rules and More Politics.

Let's not kid ourselves here. This is not an "effort to avoid politicising EU decision-making". Schäuble is scared to death about what the socialists have in mind.

If there is a new parliament, France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal will all seek to "pool resources", the same general idea as "transfer German savings for politicians to spend elsewhere".

Instead, Schäuble seeks "independent" bodies. Let's translate that as well. "Independent" really means "appointed by and to the liking of Germany".

Because politics can change, Schäuble also seeks a fallback mechanism: "budget rules to be triggered automatically".

Of course, France, Italy, Spain, etc., want no part of automated budget rules; they want to vote on rules because they know they can collectively outvote Germany any time they want. Here are the French and Italian proposals:

United States of Europe Proposals

Which Will It Be?

Let me summarize the debate with a question: Which will it be:

  1. United States of Europe
  2. United States of Germany

Please think before you vote. The answer could be neither.  I purposely left out a key choice: The eurozone may still break apart.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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