The real fear of the Eurocrats

Daniel Hannan observes that it isn’t a Greek bankruptcy that would be the real catastrophe as far as the EU is concerned:

A default and devaluation would offer a fresh start. Although the economy has been pummelled by six years of Euro-austerity, some of the fundamentals have improved. The bureaucracy has been slimmed, taxes are now collected and, if debt repayments were taken out of it, the budget would be in balance. In truth, this is what EU leaders fear. Not that Greece will leave the euro and collapse, but that Greece will leave the euro and prosper.

A competitive Greek economy, exporting its way back to growth, might inspire Spaniards and Italians, who have also been paying the price of the euro, to follow. For those Eurocrats who see the single currency as a component of political integration, that prospect is too horrible to contemplate.

We’ve been here before. Two years ago, when it looked as if Cyprus might leave the euro, Brussels went so far as to lift money directly out of private bank accounts to pay off the country’s creditors.

The extreme measure was necessary, the European Central Bank admitted, ‘to prevent worries over the reversibility of the euro resurfacing’.

I observe that Iceland, which rejected the EU’s bank-first dictates, is doing considerably better than Italy, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, which obediently followed the EU’s instructions. I tend to doubt this observation has escaped the new Greek government.