The EU as the US the late 18th century

After the war of independence most American states were in debt and some where in danger of not paying back the money at all. Alexander Hamilton, all round dude, argued that the only solution to the debt problem was to nationalise the debt, give the central state some taxing powers to pay it off, and to ban individual states from running up large debts.

As discussed by Martin Wolf, something similar could work in Europe. However, the thirteen colonies had just been brought together by defeating the evil British (mwahaha), whereas Europeans are down each other’s throats, blaming one another for another fine mess.

On the other hand, the basics, are probably in place in the EU in a way they never were in the US prior to the 1800s. A pact to prevent member states from running deficits has already been instituted (although this could be rendered a dead letter law, were it to become politically necessary to ignore it), and a national currency already exists (for now).

All the EU needs is some incredibly unpopular tax and fiscal reforms and it would be half way to becoming a United States of Europe. Three things cause me to be tolerate this idea more than my gut tells me to.

One, European leaders want power, and continental scale is necessary for geopolitical clout, Germany will soon be too puny, Europe united never will. Europeans used to own some continents but they lost them last century, so a plan for Europe’s leaders to all share the same one may appeal as a Plan B. Secondly, Currency Unions tend to become countries or break apart, there seems little appetite for either  course of action, but one will come to pass eventually. Three, since BismarkNapoleon, Charles VCharlemagne, hell, for a long time, there has been a political impetus towards greater European centralisation, that logic didn’t vanish in 1945.

So, yeah, Alexander Hamilton, best start reading up.

Advertisements