Downing Street and its media coverage teams will be briefing for a serial liar tomorrow and at the week end, so we can expect a series of lies. The United Kingdom will be painted as vetoing any controls upon the City or its practices, fiscal policy, or the institutional nature of banks. It is unlikely this veto will be formal, of course, not least because the use of a formal veto is not available under the majority voting that governs the creation of a a European risk-monitoring board and a system of financial supervisors to oversee banking, insurance and securities markets with much more than the current purely supervisory powers.
No doubt the draft communiqué has been so worded as to leave room for the alteration our Prime Minister will want to have - his 'I have here a piece of paper' waving requirement. Explicitly it will state that:
'no EU-level authority can force a government to burden its taxpayers with the cost of a bank bail-out' (as the FT puts it). No, but if banks that cross international borders are required by regulatory measure to separate retail and more hazardous forms of banking, such bailouts will not be required. Whether the newly-empowered risk monitoring agency should be headed by the European Central Bank will be a sore point for a country not in the Euro but subject to its regulations too. But the solution is straight forward, if not easy: join the Euro. Or the Eurozone countries can say ' Let's say we will, and then not'. And what can Brown do about it later? The first head of the monitoring agency will most certainly be in the ECB.
Led in such important negotiations by an undemocratic, discredited prisoner of his undemocratic ministers and situation, is not ideal for the country. The goings-on since the failure to hold an election after Blair's ousting, reaching a crescendo in the last few months, have been noted to the detriment of our being taken seriously, until a general election has been held to determine who rules Britain.
More interestingly, the institutional and political solutions offered by the Lisbon Treaty to problems of single member-state veto powers, the short termism of political decision-taking with a rotating Presidency, and the democratic deficit of an overpowerful Executive - not to mention the anti-federalismo spear-headed by the United Kingdom - seem to be lessening in importance as other routes, fiscal and regulatory, to strengthening federal action, arise from the last 12 months' events. The economic substructure is generating the superstructure, just like some believe it is supposed to. And Brown's distasteful regime is progressively weakening any argument for the benefits of a less binding Union.
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