Toward Britain: Empty Threats

J. Robert Smith
Olli Rehn. Ever hear of him? In case you haven't, Rehn's a Finn and an E.U. commissioner. The London Express reported that Rehn's job a couple of days ago was to threaten the British. Prime Minister David Cameron, in a very impolitic spasm of national self-interest, declared that Britain wasn't going along with the French and German-driven aim to vest more power in Brussels.

So Rehn, looking every inch the green eyeshade bureaucrat, came before cameras to make it clear that Britain's veto of the Brussels (read French and German) power grab was of no account. Never mind that Britain as an E.U. member has a veto like other E.U. nations. Evidently, a veto can be exercised as long as it doesn't interfere with the E.U.'s master plan.

Here's what Rehn said, in that oh-so bland way bureaucrats have when making threats:

"If this move [the British veto] was intended to prevent bankers and financial corporations in the City [London] from being regulated, that is not going to happen. We must all draw lessons from the financial crisis and that goes for the financial sector as well."

Ya vol, der Kommandant!

But Rehn wasn't finished with his insipid pronouncements:

"The UK's excessive deficit and debt will be the subject of surveillance like other member states, even if the enforcement mechanism mostly applies to the euro-area member states."

Egads, could Rehn be channeling Felix Dzerzhinsky?

The trouble with Rehn's and the E.U.'s threats toward the British is that the E.U. lacks enforcement mechanicisms (to borrow from Rehn) to really punish Britain. Certainly, the E.U. could make it more difficult for the Brits to conduct business on the Continent, but for how long? Won't punitive actions against British commercial interests ultimately redound harshly to the punishers? And Brussels - or Brussels' string-pullers, the French and Germans - haven't been very good at getting E.U. nations to do anything in a coordinated fashion.

Ah, then, the need to centralize more power in Brussels, which is yet one more step toward the new road to serfdom in Europe - unless the E.U. experiment disintegrates first. And it's a fair bet that it will.

Without recourse to actual force - police powers - E.U. bureaucrats are left to a carrots or sticks approach to try to bring the British to heel. If there's anything left of British resolve and starchiness, Brits will keep telling Brussels, the French, and Germans to go pound sand. Napoleon couldn't subjugate the British, and neither could that frustrated painter from Vienna.

Until the British ruling class's recent foray into continental Europe kumbayaism, the British maintained an historic, steadfast independence from the continent, preferring to play European powers (or combinations of powers) off one another to maintain balances of power.

The British would be smart to return to their independent ways. Why tether their fortunes to a sinking E.U.?



Olli Rehn. Ever hear of him? In case you haven't, Rehn's a Finn and an E.U. commissioner. The London Express reported that Rehn's job a couple of days ago was to threaten the British. Prime Minister David Cameron, in a very impolitic spasm of national self-interest, declared that Britain wasn't going along with the French and German-driven aim to vest more power in Brussels.

So Rehn, looking every inch the green eyeshade bureaucrat, came before cameras to make it clear that Britain's veto of the Brussels (read French and German) power grab was of no account. Never mind that Britain as an E.U. member has a veto like other E.U. nations. Evidently, a veto can be exercised as long as it doesn't interfere with the E.U.'s master plan.

Here's what Rehn said, in that oh-so bland way bureaucrats have when making threats:

"If this move [the British veto] was intended to prevent bankers and financial corporations in the City [London] from being regulated, that is not going to happen. We must all draw lessons from the financial crisis and that goes for the financial sector as well."

Ya vol, der Kommandant!

But Rehn wasn't finished with his insipid pronouncements:

"The UK's excessive deficit and debt will be the subject of surveillance like other member states, even if the enforcement mechanism mostly applies to the euro-area member states."

Egads, could Rehn be channeling Felix Dzerzhinsky?

The trouble with Rehn's and the E.U.'s threats toward the British is that the E.U. lacks enforcement mechanicisms (to borrow from Rehn) to really punish Britain. Certainly, the E.U. could make it more difficult for the Brits to conduct business on the Continent, but for how long? Won't punitive actions against British commercial interests ultimately redound harshly to the punishers? And Brussels - or Brussels' string-pullers, the French and Germans - haven't been very good at getting E.U. nations to do anything in a coordinated fashion.

Ah, then, the need to centralize more power in Brussels, which is yet one more step toward the new road to serfdom in Europe - unless the E.U. experiment disintegrates first. And it's a fair bet that it will.

Without recourse to actual force - police powers - E.U. bureaucrats are left to a carrots or sticks approach to try to bring the British to heel. If there's anything left of British resolve and starchiness, Brits will keep telling Brussels, the French, and Germans to go pound sand. Napoleon couldn't subjugate the British, and neither could that frustrated painter from Vienna.

Until the British ruling class's recent foray into continental Europe kumbayaism, the British maintained an historic, steadfast independence from the continent, preferring to play European powers (or combinations of powers) off one another to maintain balances of power.

The British would be smart to return to their independent ways. Why tether their fortunes to a sinking E.U.?