February 18, 2017

Trump's truths about Europe

EU bigwigs are circling the wagons in response to arrows from America. But the Europeans' response is risible.

In a speech which Mike Pence had to sit through - it's not all fun being Trump's Vice President - Merkel implicitly accepted Trump's charge that Germany benefits from a euro which is valued lower than the D-Mark would be. But it's not our fault, she says, as she washes her hands. Not at all. Berlin has no power to address this "problem" because monetary policy is set by the independent European Central Bank (ECB).

What a shame. How sad.

And what do you know, the ECB tailors its policy to the euro economies that are weaker than Germany's (i.e. practically all of them). No mention of the size of that persistent German trade surplus, of course, which is illegal under eurozone rules but which the eurozone oddly never addresses. Meanwhile, Germany's eurozone companions continue to suffer. They could leave at any time, but it isn't even like an open prison - they checked themselves in in the first place. It's more like a decaying but ruinously expensive hotel, with a splendid, luxury wing reserved for just one guest.

America is also reminding Europe of the commitment it made to spend 2% of GDP on defence. The UK probably doesn't reach this any more, and it's not as if Fallon is a doughty champion of the armed forces (or indeed of anything).

The EU response to America is that foreign aid should be counted as part of defence spending because it stabilises the world. Yes, they are really saying that.

So we can help to neutralise threats from Russia or North Korea by giving aid to Africa to help them combat fictitious runaway global warming? Is this really the best that EU bigwigs can come up with?

Defence is defence. On this, and on the euro exchange rate, Trump has only said what analysts have been saying for years, but politicians have been too timid to admit. Much safer for them to say nothing, cross their fingers, and hope nothing spectacularly bad happens on their watch.

On these two issues the Trump regime is right. And the eurocrats are hunkering down, hoping reality will pass and they can go back to life in La La Land.

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