Spain rebels against EU: Refuses austerity demands

Rick Moran
Ambrose Evans Pritchard calls it "Spain's Sovereign Thunderclap." Indeed, the Spanish have given the back of their hand to the EU with regard to further austerity measures because Spain can't reach the deficit goals set by Brussels for EU countries to follow:

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.

With condign symbolism, Mr Rajoy dropped his bombshell in Brussels after the EU summit, without first notifying the commission or fellow EU leaders. Indeed, he seemed to relish the fact that he was tearing up the rule book and disavowing the whole EU machinery of budgetary control.

He is surely right to seize the initiative. Spain's economy will contract by 1.7pc this year under his modified plans and unemployment will reach 24pc (or 29pc under the 1990s method of counting). To compound this with manic fiscal tightening - and no offsetting devaluation - is intellectually indefensible.

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.

Given Spain's example, can Greece be far behind? And then there is the rebellion brewing in the Netherlands where Geert Wilder's Freedom Party is calling for an end to Dutch participation in the single currency and a return to the guilder:

"The euro is not in the interests of the Dutch people," said Geert Wilders, the leader of the right-wing populist party with a sixth of the seats in the Dutch parliament. "We want to be the master of our own house and our own country, so we say yes to the guilder. Bring it on."

Mr Wilders made his decision after receiving a report by London-based Lombard Street Research concluding that the Netherlands is badly handicapped by euro membership, and that it could cost EMU's creditor core more than €2.4 trillion to hold monetary union together over the next four years. "If the politicians in The Hague disagree with our report, let them show the guts to hold a referendum. Let the Dutch people decide," he said.

Mr Wilders is not part of the coalition. However, the minority government of Mark Rutte relies on the Freedom Party to pass legislation. The two men were in talks on Monday on €16bn of fresh austerity cuts needed stop the budget deficit jumping to 4.5pc of GDP.

The study said the eurozone cannot survive in its current form. The longer Europe's politicians dither, the more costly it will become. "The euro can only survive if it becomes a fiscal transfer union with national sovereign debt subsumed in eurozone bonds," said co-author Charles Dumas.

The whole concept of United Europe seems to be unraveling. It probably won't happen in one, dramatic collapse. Rather, the fall of the euro will come gradually as nation after nation either defaults or leaves the union while Germany and France try to save it. Eventually, those efforts will prove fruitless and the contingency plans of the central banks in Europe for the loss of the euro will kick in and a return to national currencies will be effected.


Ambrose Evans Pritchard calls it "Spain's Sovereign Thunderclap." Indeed, the Spanish have given the back of their hand to the EU with regard to further austerity measures because Spain can't reach the deficit goals set by Brussels for EU countries to follow:

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.

As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.

With condign symbolism, Mr Rajoy dropped his bombshell in Brussels after the EU summit, without first notifying the commission or fellow EU leaders. Indeed, he seemed to relish the fact that he was tearing up the rule book and disavowing the whole EU machinery of budgetary control.

He is surely right to seize the initiative. Spain's economy will contract by 1.7pc this year under his modified plans and unemployment will reach 24pc (or 29pc under the 1990s method of counting). To compound this with manic fiscal tightening - and no offsetting devaluation - is intellectually indefensible.

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.

Given Spain's example, can Greece be far behind? And then there is the rebellion brewing in the Netherlands where Geert Wilder's Freedom Party is calling for an end to Dutch participation in the single currency and a return to the guilder:

"The euro is not in the interests of the Dutch people," said Geert Wilders, the leader of the right-wing populist party with a sixth of the seats in the Dutch parliament. "We want to be the master of our own house and our own country, so we say yes to the guilder. Bring it on."

Mr Wilders made his decision after receiving a report by London-based Lombard Street Research concluding that the Netherlands is badly handicapped by euro membership, and that it could cost EMU's creditor core more than €2.4 trillion to hold monetary union together over the next four years. "If the politicians in The Hague disagree with our report, let them show the guts to hold a referendum. Let the Dutch people decide," he said.

Mr Wilders is not part of the coalition. However, the minority government of Mark Rutte relies on the Freedom Party to pass legislation. The two men were in talks on Monday on €16bn of fresh austerity cuts needed stop the budget deficit jumping to 4.5pc of GDP.

The study said the eurozone cannot survive in its current form. The longer Europe's politicians dither, the more costly it will become. "The euro can only survive if it becomes a fiscal transfer union with national sovereign debt subsumed in eurozone bonds," said co-author Charles Dumas.

The whole concept of United Europe seems to be unraveling. It probably won't happen in one, dramatic collapse. Rather, the fall of the euro will come gradually as nation after nation either defaults or leaves the union while Germany and France try to save it. Eventually, those efforts will prove fruitless and the contingency plans of the central banks in Europe for the loss of the euro will kick in and a return to national currencies will be effected.