‘EU and UK cannot do without each other’
The recent poll showed that more than 40 percent of UK citizens would vote to leave the EU if there was a referendum on the issue; 47 percent thought Britain should stay in.
RT:Now, you've seen the figures, do you think the worsening row will only increase euroskepticism in the UK?
Markus Kerber: We have been structurally confronted with euroskepticism in Great Britain because the British are British and they look upon Europe as “the continent.” But those who are the people with a great sense of reality will teach themselves what reason commands and common sense commands that is to stay within the European Union which is of utmost interest for a free trade country like the UK. Britain has always tried to negotiate, to bargain. And in the case of Cameron and his confrontation with Merkel he has gone astoundingly far, because he called into question a fundament freedom, the freedom of free movement for which Britain has always fought. If we look upon things realistically there might still be home grown protest in the UK about the reimbursement demand and about the row between Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Merkel. But fundamentally Europe cannot be thought without Great Britain, and Britain knows very well that Great Britain is no longer an empire and cannot live without continental Europe.
RT:Do you think the rift between the EU and the UK could trigger a chain reaction in other union member states where the euroskeptic sentiment is on the rise?
MK: I think Mr. Cameron is in a very complicated situation because he is facing up to rising criticism of the EU; he has an anti-Euro and anti-Europe party – UKIP - which is gathering ground in Britain. A prime minister, who wants to stay in power and in office, has to pay tribute to that, so he has to change his rhetoric. But Mr. Cameron is a very sound and wise man, he knows his limits. As you might have seen from the row between Frau Merkel and Mr. Cameron, he has withdrawn from positions which were totally untenable when he wants to put a cap on immigrants to the UK being not able to support themselves for three months. That would be really a point of no return and Chancellor Merkel signaled this to British politicians, to the British political establishment. Mr. Cameron drew his conclusions from that and retreated very quickly from that position and gave in and tried to say: “Well, we remain within the legal framework.” His position was outstandingly un-British because normally the British stick to the roots and they are not known, contrary to the French, by not abiding roots. The free movement of labor is one of the fundamental freedoms of the European community. Putting this into question is putting into question the European community itself.
RT:You are an advocate of the so-called Guldenmark stability project for the eurozone - could you briefly describe it?
MK: This is a very simple idea. Unless we want to have a collapse due to the euro project - which didn't work and which has led to incredible commitment by the current account surplus countries, in the interest of the countries which are almost in fiscal emergencies - we have to find a softer way out of the euro crisis. The only way out of the crisis is to draw conclusion on what is the reality. The reality is that we cannot live in a heterogeneous monetary world, with heterogeneous different economies with only one single currency. One single currency does not fit the eurozone, which is composed of very different economies. So the way out is to split the eurozone. One part is with the current account surplus countries, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Luxembourg, and Germany. I propose to them a double currency - a parallel currency what I call the Guldenmark which is a nickname for both: the mark and guilder which was the Dutch currency - to show that it is something new besides, the euro. Then people and corporations can chose whether they want to stay only with the euro or whether they want to change to the Guldenmark. Then gradually we will have secession, a splitting-up of the eurozone into a part with the current account surplus countries with competitive economies with balanced budgets and another part of the eurozone with countries with almost a fiscal emergency, like Cyprus, Greece, which urgently need a cheaper currency in order to facilitate their adjustment process. And my way out of that crisis is an evolutionary way which is in a way of reform instead of waiting for the point of no return. I always say, either we chose as long as we have the time to choose a way out of the crisis by reform concept, or we wait till a total emergency, till collapse, till the precipices where politics and politicians have no longer any options, and that would be a great mess. I think the euro will bring a great mess and will throw us backwards at least 20 to 30 years. Because when it fades everybody would say who is going to be blamed for that failure and I’m sure the eurozone member countries do not agree who is the scapegoat in that affair.
RT:Britain is a key contributor to the EU budget. Can the bloc afford to lose it?
MK: There is no bloc in term of the name for the bloc: there are different groups of countries with different groups of interests and the current account surplus countries, the stable countries within the eurozone. Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, and Luxembourg can of course not afford to lose Great Britain. Neither can the European Community afford to lose Britain. There will be no Europe and no European community without Britain. The UK is a key player in international politics. It is a key player economically speaking … So my answer is crystal clear: Europe cannot do without Great Britain.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.