Opinion  

Major battle for your future is now underway

Ashley Wassall

Anyone that believes in the collectivism that the EU should represent - and which Germany has benefitted from in the past - would surely agree that some accommodations needed to be made, whether by cutting the outstanding debt, reducing interest or extending maturities.

Instead, the officious troika led by European finance ministers refuses to budge. With no back-up benefactor, my guess is Greece will eventually fold at the eleventh hour and accede to reforms demanded to unlock its latest bailout. The alternative of bankruptcy and euro-exit would see it exiled from financial markets and contending with hyperinflation.

What this shows is how sclerotic Europe is, how inflexible when confronted with the idiosyncratic problems of individual member states. This is a facet of how it is run through a central core of federalising evangelists in the European Commission, who do not have to answer to an electorate.

Problems with the system should not cause a knee-jerk reaction to reject it, however. Britain’s political system is clunky, but it still works fairly effectively - and in any case there is no sense in cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Which brings me back to that quota system. This is not the forum for any in-depth discussion on the issue, but it seems this is an example of Europe getting it right: we simply cannot repatriate all migrants and must not breed resentment with our near neighbours by refusing to take our share.

Moreover, the option of refusing to be part of any European immigration system could revoke the Dublin accord that allows us, according to figures quoted in the Times yesterday, to send 13,000 migrants back to member states they arrived at first.

(There is also a basic lack of humanity on display in the debate, but that is quite another issue.)

Despite all of this, though, the government is playing hard ball. It has to: the rules of the bout require that it guard against any apparent lunge from the EU in terms of decision making, especially when it is relation to immigration.

We can only hope that at least it has the effect of convincing the British people we’re not being bullied by Europe. This might be the key to getting a crucial vote to stay in.

ashley.wassall@ft.com