One of the gripes Britons have about the European Union is that they think the big decisions are stitched up between the Germans and French. Anti-Europeans are fanning this feeling in the runup to the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the EU, saying that Britain has little influence on what happens in Brussels.
Are the Tories and Labour the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of UK politics? In most things, there’s not much to choose between the UK parties’ economic election pledges. Both want to cut the deficit gradually. Both want to splash out on the National Health Service. And both have a smattering of silly micro-policies. The big differences are that Labour would tax the rich more and the Tories might take Britain out of the European Union.
What is capital markets union? Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president-elect, has embraced the goal of creating one for the European Union. But so far it is more of a slogan than a set of policy actions. There’s no harm in having a catchy term to encompass a myriad of specific plans, but the idea needs fleshing out.
Both continental European euro-enthusiasts and British Conservatives received a boost last week when the German and UK finance ministers called for a rewrite of the European Union’s treaties. The goal, outlined by Wolfgang Schaeuble and George Osborne, is to kill two birds with one stone: shore up the euro zone and keep Britain in the EU.
Greece’s reform job is not even half finished. The government hasn’t done enough to root out the vested interests that strangle the economy. Nor has it cracked down fully on tax evasion or pushed hard enough to privatise state-owned properties.