In yesterday’s Independent their columnist Mary-Ann Sieghart asked ‘Where have all the Europhiles gone?’ I have always been a Europhile, it is why I enjoy being a MEP so much. Here’s my response which the Independent published today:
‘Ms Sieghart asserts that the crisis in the UK would have been worse had we joined the euro but offers no evidence to support this. The UK had to contribute significant amounts to bail out Ireland and will certainly be contributing more in the future through the IMF and other channels for Greece.
If we look at the course of our economy over the past couple of years, it is difficult to see that there would have been significant difference for us had we been a part of the eurozone; our economies are too integrated and dependent to be anything but deeply affected by events in the eurozone.
Since 2008 the interest rates set by the Bank of England and the ECB have been very similar. As is naturally the case in economies that are so mutually dependent, not only have we suffered the same problems over the past few years, we have also come to broadly similar solutions. Any notion that refusal to join the euro somehow made the nature of our economy different from that of Europe is misguided; it simply made interaction that bit more complicated.
Ms Seighart also mentions that in 2003 the UK was still considered the third most influential country in the EU. I wonder if that still stands today. Due to our own disinterested stance, it often feels we are not leading, but being led. Perhaps we would have had more say in the negotiations over bailouts, which will directly affect us, if we had joined the euro 10 years ago when we had the chance. Instead we’re paying the bill while Germany and France are managing the project.’