Various studies confirm that public and even official debate about “bailouts” has been badly mis-framed as a question of whether the better-off northern member states are willing to contribute their taxpayers’ money to aid their struggling Eurozone partners. In fact, as reported today by Reuters, the richer countries have benefitted massively from the huge decline in their own borrowing costs in recent years, without having lost one euro through loans to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. In addition to this safe-haven effect, I would add that Germany and others have benefitted through increased export competitiveness derived from the fall of the euro over the same period.
But rather than explain this reality to their own parliamentarians and voters, the leaders of Germany, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, and France have preferred to maintain the widespread myth that they have acted in a spirit of solidarity. The perpetuation of this myth is seriously irresponsible: the more that voters believe their hard-earned monies are being siphoned off to support undeserving foreigners, the more they will resent the EU and make it harder for national parliaments to save the Euro.
This is yet another example of Europe’s so-called leaders treating public support for European integration like Moses’ bush — something that can be burned without being consumed.