Caroline Lucas and Mike Woodin The Euro or a Sustainable Future for Britain? A Green Critique of the Single Currency (New Europe

Co-authored by English Green Euro-MP Caroline Lucas and Oxford City Councillor Mike Woodin , The Euro or a Sustainable Future for Britain? offers a concise and well-argued presentation of the progressive, internationalist case against the EU’s single currency, and Britain’s possible membership of it.  Lucas and Woodin place the Euro precisely where it belongs, in the context of a neo-liberal globalisation engineered by corporate capital. EMU is nothing but the form taken by this redesign of our planet’s economy in one particular corner of it.  Or, as the authors put it,  “In EMU we are witnessing nothing other than the creation of the European branch of the globalised economy…”

The pamphlet explains how globalisation is a process decided upon and managed by big capital and the governments which serve its interests.  More particularly, the idea for the single currency itself, and the extreme monetarist criteria spelled out at Maastricht to govern its introduction and functioning, originated with the European Round Table of Industrialists, the principal lobby at EU level for multi-national corporations. 

The pamphlet’s arguments will be familiar to regular Spectre readers, and those more red than green will welcome the Green Party of England and Wales as a valuable ally, in stark contrast to Greens in continental Europe, who have joined the EU (and in most cases, NATO) bandwagon. As well as the single currency’s tainted origins and the undemocratic way in which it was foisted on the peoples of most of the euro-zone, The Euro or a Sustainable Future looks at the malign consequences (and sheer illogic)  of establishing a single rate of interest for twelve (or more) very different, and the way in which EMU will widen regional disparities, undermine democratic decision-making procedures and concentrate power in unelected bodies, principally the European Central Bank.

Finally, the Greens propose an alternative based on “a set of mutually reinforcing policies, which have, as their goal, stronger and more diverse local economies, with high environmental, social and democratic standards.” These would include curbs on multinationals, Europe-wide re-regulation of finance capital, taxes on short-term speculative flows and a “co-ordinated Europe-wide attack on corporate tax evasion.”

How we get from here to there is not discussed, but this is an omission not limited to this pamphlet or to Greens. The Treaty of Rome makes much of what is proposed illegal, or otherwise impossible. As you can read elsewhere in Spectre, even a mild version of the Tobin Tax, which enjoys support well beyond the left or green movements, is outlawed by the EU.

One criticism which has nothing to do with the content: why does such a small pamphlet cost £5? Why is not printed on recycled paper and in a cheaper format? And why on earth does it carry a copyright notice?  We suspect the answer has to do with the fact that it is published by “new europe”, a body also supported by right wing organisations and luminaries such as David Owen and Martin Taylor, former Chief Executive of Barclays Bank. No problem with that – if the UK is to be rescued from Blair’s plans to take the country into the Euro-zone, the crescendo of lies and waffle which he will visit upon his unfortunate compatriots will need to be answered from all sides. But this is a pamphlet which needs and deserves to be read by people  to whom a fiver represents a substantial sum. Maybe it’s available on the internet, but I couldn’t find it.  To buy a copy, email or go to this website for more information.

[NB: This pamphlet is now available in an online version, free of charge. Go to this website to access it. 16/9/01]

The reviewer, Steve McGiffen, is Spectre’s editor and the author of The European Union: A Critical Guide (Pluto Press, 2001)  He has been campaigning against the single currency since it was nothing but an evil gleam in the Agnelli dynasty’s eyes.