The economic crisis is proving useful for those who want to see the European Union make the final and logical leap to becoming a unitary state, with a single currency and a single government. That is what some of the Euro-sceptics of Left and Right have been saying, but because they have been suggesting that this would be the logical outcome of the single currency for some time, few are paying any heed to them.
This is dangerous. You don't have to be a Euro sceptic nationalist of the Right to appreciate that under the guise of saving the Euro a substantial EU power grab is actually taking place right under our noses.
Essentially the EU Commission is now becoming the final arbiter of national budget making right, having set up what it calls the 'AGS' or Annual Growth Survey'. This innocuous enough sounding organisation actually sets out budgets it wants all member states to adhere to over the coming year, and if any individual country doesn't comply it faces hefty fines from the Commission of 0.2% of a country's GDP, or if a member state refuses to comply over a three year period, that fine jumps to 0.5%.
Members of the EU Parliament are never slow in leaping up to disparage anyone who thinks that the Parliament is for the most part an expensive, moving, talking shop. But even they will have some difficulty in shouting this one down. For while the Parliament can offer an 'opinion' on whatever the AGS demands of any individual member state, it cannot amend those demands.
And when one considers that the medicine being handed down on high from the EU Commission and by extension the AGS is pure Friedmanite free marketeering, you have to wonder whether we are blundering unseen, into an elective dictatorship. The AGS enforces traditional austerity packages, demanding the people work longer, are 'more flexible' take lower wage increases and wants more regressive taxation. IN fact the the EU Commission, through the supremely undemocratic AGS is forcing the same policies that dragged Europe into recession and possibly now depression, and none of us can do a single thing about it.
It would of course help if there was a healthy discourse on what is happening around us and how our democracy is being snuffed out with barely a whimper of protest. But then the EU is always rather good in spending our money in marginalising dissent.
Fortunately none of this has stopped a broad, all party group coming together in Britain at least, determined as it is to let people have their say. The People's Pledge www.peoplespledge.org is demanding a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU - and by extension the country' continued subjugation to economic policies it has not voted for. For although Britain is outside the Euro zone and cannot be made to pay fines, it is quite possible that Britain could be punished by the EU for transgressing AGS rules, with for instance the withdrawal of EU structural funds (despite the fact that we have partly paid for them).