The one-two punch of rejections by the French and Dutch of the proposed EU constitution has apparently caused former EU stalwarts to rethink the entire project, even as an economic union. After an Italian minister from a fringe party suggested that the lira may replace the euro in Italy, a French colleague of Jacques Chirac predicted a return of the franc. And perhaps the Briton that has been the biggest booster of the EU, Tony Blair, has decided that a united Europe is no longer worth the fight:
Tony Blair has given up on Europe as an issue worth fighting for, senior allies of the Prime Minister have told The Sunday Telegraph.
A leading Blairite cabinet minister made the admission last night as the European Union descended into deeper turmoil, with doubts surfacing over the future of the single currency.
Mr Blair, who will seek to shift the focus of his administration on to poverty in the Third World this week during talks with President Bush, has told his closest allies: “Africa is worth fighting for. Europe, in its present form, is not.”
The signal is an astonishing U-turn for a leader who said three years ago that the euro was “our destiny” and who announced a British referendum by proclaiming: “Let the battle be joined.” But one of his closest allies said that Mr Blair no longer believed that putting Britain at the heart of Europe could be his legacy: “Europe is back to the drawing board. Africa will become more important.”
In our discussions of the EU crisis today on our radio show, SCSU Scholars’ King Banaian made the point that without a viable EU, the euro has become superfluous. Apparently that same argument has occurred to the EU elite, even those who previously championed complete European unity, like the French UMP party. It seems that the rats have begun lining up to abandon the ship even before it starts taking on water — demonstrating, perhaps, that the EU project had less enthusiasm even among the EU elite than previously thought.
Blair had long lectured on the importance of European consolidation. During most of his career, the EU was his signature project, and he has done more than any other British politician to bring the UK as close as it came to integrate itself within the union. For Blair to relegate it as a secondary issue, or less, means that he truly must have lost faith in the future of the EU. With over 81 percent of Britons demanding that any further moves towards consolidation be approved by referendum — and the sorry track records that such plebescites already have had in Europe — Blair has seen the writing on the wall.
Unless something dramatic and unexpected happens in the next few days, more nations will express a lack of confidence in the union and the euro and prepare returns to national currencies. Without a central government, a central currency makes no sense. (via Instapundit)