2 august 2015, more, or more europe

Now that greece has momentarily stopped hogging the agenda, the brits will try again to launch a "reform" agenda, with the headline aim of securing a "less europe" deal before a referendum on exiting altogether. If there is a european wave in the greek wake though, it is very much going in the other direction, at least for the eurozone. The uk may be successful in protecting the rights of non-euro countries, but for the core, another round of ever closer union over the next years is remorseless logic. France's president is already talking about a more powerful europe, and, recognising that all may not be with him on the journey, of a new hard core with its own government, budget and parliament. His prime minister, manuel valls, coloured in membership, saying it should include the eu's 6 founding nations (france, germany, italy and the benelux). Italy's finance minister is arguing for full fiscal union and policy, "and this must respond to a parliament and this parliament must be elected. Otherwise there is no accountability." Germany's finance minister, wolfgang schaeuble, has had similar thoughts, recognising that the commission over these months seems to be becoming that government, meaning it needs stripping of its more technical and regulatory functions, e.g. on competition. The commission president, jean-claude juncker (see 18 june 2011, in celebration of), would not disagree, having specifically stood on that election platform. The most thoughtful round-up of this strong stream of thinking came a month ago with the report of the "5 presidents": juncker, draghi, tusk, schulz and dijsselbloem. If europe has a leadership, this is it, and their ten-year plan isn't just about putting the "e" (economic) into emu (and monetary union, see 2 june 2011, trichet, awaaaaay), it also sets out the path to financial, fiscal and political union too. Thus, while the poles of london and the presidents draw very different conclusions, they essentially share the same analysis, that emu is incomplete and can't stay that way forever. History suggests the presidents are far more likely to get their way over time, but probably without the british-led refuseniks.