'Europe hasn’t even begun to tackle its problems yet'
In Clarke’s opinion, Europe is not even making an attempt to do the right thing to turn-around its economic woes.
RT:Greece is the worst-hit in these latest figures and yet it's just agreed another 15,000 job cuts to meet the bailout terms. Where's the wisdom in that?
Chris Clarke: I think if you’re going to use the word ‘wisdom’ when asking me a question about the European Union, it’s a bit of a contradiction in terms. I mean the perceived wisdom of that scenario was obviously if Greece was going to pay back its debtors it’s going to need to continue to slash all costs and therefore it needs to do what it’s doing. Obviously, it’s really not very logical.
RT:The European Commission recently predicted growth for the Eurozone. Is that realistic amid record-high unemployment and ongoing cuts?
CC: I think that what the European Commission knows about predicting economic growth, forecasts you could probably write on the back of a postage stamp, to be honest with you. I think that there’s very little prospect of the Eurozone growing at any point in the near future.
What I would say is that even if you leveled the playing field at the moment, and took away all the debt and all the problems in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to see how it would grow going forward. In order to compete with the Chinese, and the Indians, and the Canadians, and the Australians, what Europe needs is to deregulate its markets and to cut the bureaucracy and the red tape and the unelected officials that basically run it.
And what Europe is in fact doing at the moment is the exact opposite.
RT:But that is not going to change any time soon because it has long been a criticism, is it?
CC: Absolutely. It’s getting worse. You know, the general perception in the market place is that Europe is starting to get its problems sorted out. It hasn’t even begun to tackle its problems yet. In fact, what I would argue, it’s actually doing exactly the wrong thing. It’s not even making an attempt to do the right thing; it’s doing the wrong thing. It needs to deregulate its markets in order to compete, to grow going forward. Instead what we see is a whole new swath of regulations going across the Eurozone.
RT:A few hours ago Cyprus approved its unprecedented bailout deal which will impose heavy losses on uninsured depositors. Is it resigned to its penalty, or will we see a greater push to leave the euro?
CC: As far as Cyprus is concerned, they are in a very difficult situation. They probably shouldn’t have joined the euro in the first place. Now they are in, they are a bit of a prisoner to their own destiny. It’s difficult to see how they are going to leave the Eurozone because obviously that is going to incur a massive amount of costs, which I’m not sure that Cyprus could withstand at the moment. So it’s a very difficult situation they are in and I honestly don’t know how they are going to get out of it.
RT: There is an impression that politicians in the EU are not really confident in what they are doing, if we go back to your first answer. There has also been a spat between France and Germany over economic plans. Is the EU falling apart?
CC: I think the economic numbers are falling apart.
RT:Well, is the European vision falling apart?
CC: The European vision has been falling apart for years but unfortunately the people who run the euro have still got that vision and are still hoping on pursuing that vision. I think they are too arrogant to start to have doubts at this stage and that is very worrying for Europe going forward as well.