Excerpts: “You have said that by background and experience, you might well have become a Euroskeptic, and yet you’re the opposite. How come?
As a conservative with a small c, I have a healthy suspicion of human institutions and of centralizing too much power at too high a level. And I lived for some years as a political exile in Britain, and if you only read, and believe, the British press, it’s hard not to become a Euroskeptic. But since then, I have learned from experience how the European Union actually works, and it was a surprise. It is very difficult, for example, to pass a European directive, because it’s not at all a fiat by Brussels bureaucrats, but something that needs the agreement of member states.”
“The European project has been in crisis in recent years. How does it get past that, and what is its future?
As a currency, the euro is doing fine. Its proportion in the reserve baskets of major states is stable, as is its exchange rate against other major currencies. The crisis is one of indebtedness in some eurozone member states. But non-eurozone states — United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan–also have problems with indebtedness. The eurozone’s problem was that the crisis hit before the European Union had developed an institutional framework able to deal with it. We have now created that framework, and it’s quite a tough one. It will make irresponsibility by politicians much harder. And it has also decided a major economic question of the twentieth century, because it represents the victory of the Chicago school over Keynes. We had come to the limit of Keynesian-style monetary stimulation.”
“Do you worry about the future of democratic stability in Europe thanks to the economic crisis and the efforts taken to address it?
I do. When you have a crisis and politicians blame the crisis not on their own past profligacy but on the body that is helping them, the European Union, it’s odd and dangerous. Austerity puts a huge strain on a democratic polity, and it calls for responsible leadership in explaining to people what went wrong, why, and what measures are necessary to fix it.”
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