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The European Fault Line

I vaguely remember listening to a very interesting program on the radio probably thirty or more years ago. It was about something which was called the European fault line. The idea was that, like it or not, southern Europe is inhabited by people who view the world differently from those in the north. The program set out to discover precisely where that change occurred.
I can't remember the conclusion precisely, and it seems to me that a re-hearing of that program would be timely, but that fault line is there. While there were individual countries with sovereign governments those governments could govern according to the habits and customs of their jurisdiction. With life across the EU, and specifically across the eurozone, being ordered from Brussels, with the ECB effectively headquartered in Germany, you have, right from the word go, an area governed from one side of that fault line, and the folks on the other side can't adjust.
What has happened is that the south side has seen an opportunity to get hand-outs, but the fiscal attitudes don't run to the concept of paying back those loans, or changing their ways. It is obvious to me that the habits of centuries are not going to change over the course of a generation or two, if at all. Sooner rather than later, someone is going to have to accept that a fault line exists, and it can't be bridged with a monetary union even if a political union is achievable with appropriate caveats.
South of the fault line institutions rely on falling currencies to bail them out of financial difficulties. It allows them to avoid having to reform their economy in painful ways.
Those in the north tend to prefer fiscal stability coupled with economic reform. The two approaches are irreconcilable. The southern attitude leads to bouts of exchange rate cuts. Unfortunately, you can't sort out the southerners' problems by trashing the currency because that would disturb the northern economies. The two sides of the divide are irreconcilable.
There are two problems we have to learn to live with. The first is accepting the reality as something which is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. This requires a far more flexible approach to the union, rather than a rush towards more and more integration. This latter route is going to put people's backs up and create more discord. It is not the way forward. It also means that a single currency is not going to function in the way it currently does.
I spent some time living in Central America. We are talking about several countries. Let's just talk about the ones I've lived in, that includes Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Interestingly, the ATMs in these countries dispense two currencies. Panama has a local currency which is acceptable throughout the country, but US dollars are also legal tender. A similar situation extends across the other countries in the zone. This system seems to work well. Why can't it work in Europe? It seems to me to be the only way in which the euro can survive across the existing diverse countries.
The folks currently running the show are no doubt very intelligent people, but they appear to be blinkered by the obsession of creating a federal Europe. Guys, it isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future. Wise up, and fit your fiscal system to achievable aims, and simple functionality. The alternative is a massive crash, and a splitting apart of the whole system.
And here we see where the problem with the EU lies; the politics. Sadly, the politicians are in charge, but they are in charge of a massive crash. Someone needs to put the breaks on before we all come to grief.
And the second problem?
Ah yes, that fault line. Where exactly does it run?
The far north is obvious. The far south is obvious. But where is the actual divide? I always placed France in the northern culture, but current feelings show it to be aligning itself with the south.
For years there was a saying that Africa begins the other side of the Pyrenees. Spain has clearly changed, and the odd thing is that Catalonia, and maybe the Basque country, are both northern in attitude, while the rest of Spain is definitely south of the divide.
Austria is probably north while northern Italy may also be north of that divide, but the rest of Italy is most definitely not.
I could go on but the further east I go, the more confused I get, but one thing is for sure: it's a mess, folks. I don't think things will improve until this reality is faced, and the whole idea of a federal Europe is shelved until such time as there really is no divide, if that state of affairs ever does materialise. After all, we are more likely to remain friends if we aren't bullied or blackmailed by our neighbours. I have always maintained that you cant force folks to be friends, and that is what the concept of a federal Europe is all about, and look where it is leading us.

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