Monday, March 18, 2013

A retrograde step

Tweet this As someone who was born not too long after the end of World War II, the development of the European Union has easily been the most significant event to have occurred in this writer’s lifetime. It has been welcomed on a large number of levels. Early years in the stultifying atmosphere of autocratic, priest-ridden Ireland gave EU anti-discrimination and other, similar, liberal directives the quality of large doses of refreshing, invigorating fresh air. Fiscal and monetary austerity packages have been tolerated and even welcomed as moves to impose required discipline on the irresponsible and ultimately unsustainable economic models that prevailed prior to the Great Financial Crisis.

But now, at last, Homer has well and truly nodded. Gestures of approval while watching Mario Draghi, European Central Bank (ECB) president, pronouncing that the “Sovereign signature remains a pillar of stability” when explaining that it was impossible to renege on guarantees that had been given to bank bondholders by the Irish government, no matter how unfortunate they have turned out to be in hindsight, have morphed into gasps of dismay at the idea that a collective punishment is to be visited on ordinary Cypriots who believed that their assets were safe in an institution that formed part of the Euro zone banking system.

This is indeed a retrograde step. It is the opening of a door that will never be capable of being closed. It is an invitation for all, whether native Europeans or those who are here as our guests, to believe that no bank account, anywhere in the Eurozone, is now safe from the depredations of those in authority who would invade their private, up-to-now sacrosanct assets. Contagion is too weak a word to describe the prospects that have now reared their ugly heads.

We have not heard the end of this.    

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