THE SPANISH ECONOMY: Here's a 30 year review. Click if you read Spanish. Or are happy with a machine translation.
THE 500 EURO NOTE: This is said to be handy for moving large amounts of black cash. Spain used to be thought to have 25% of all the notes in circulation. Now it's said to 33%. So much for The anti-corruption measures, of the last few years, after the closing of the stable door.
THE EU: 1. An El Pais columnist thinks this has become an engine of destruction in poorer states. Click below this para. In Spanish again. 2. In an article at the end of this post, there's an account of standard Brussels democracy in action, in Portugal. How much longer can this go on?
PONTEVEDRA CYCLISTS: These happy folk are faced with a number of tough decisions: Should I ride on the road or on the pavement/sidewalk? Should I ride fast or slow? Should I keep in a straight line or weave in and out of pedestrians? Should I wear a helmet? Should I have lights at night? If not, should I at least have a reflector at the back? If not, should I ride down the edge of the road or right in the middle of it? In short, should I obey a law which I know isn't policed? LIfe can be hard at times. Especially for pedestrians.
FINALLY . . . LOCAL SERVICE: I take back what I took back last week. The engineer never arrived to fix the washing machine. And when I called the central booking number, the guy put the phone down on me when I asked him to repeat something. Nice.
A MASSIVE MACHINE OF DESTRUCTION
Whether it’s non, nee, nej or oxi, we’ve come to learn that “no” to European projects rarely means “no” once it’s been translated by Brussels. Nations that reject EU treaties in referendums tend to be asked to vote again until the approved answer is achieved. Regrettably, from Ireland to Denmark to Greece, that is what they have done.
I hope the British are pluckier if we vote to leave the EU’s embrace, because the Europhiles will insist another vote is held to ratify the terms of any divorce. “Outers” will probably have to win two referendums, while the integrationists will only need to win one. And, my goodness, can you imagine how Brussels will treat us if we vote to stay? Eurocrats will correctly conclude we huff and puff about the EU’s lack of democracy and its declining competitiveness but ultimately we’ll swallow whatever gruel they dish out to us.
The latest erosion of democracy within the EU has not come in a referendum, however, but in a general election. Earlier this month, Portugal’s ruling conservative party lost its parliamentary majority and a fifth of its voters. The country’s communautaire president has insisted, however, that it continue in office, even though a left-wing bloc that won more than 50 per cent of votes and seats is ready to govern.
Aníbal Cavaco Silva explains that it is his “duty” to stop “anti-European forces” and has vowed to deploy all of his powers “to prevent false signals being sent to financial institutions, investors and markets”.
This is the shrivelled reality of democracy in the eurozone. If voters protest at the euro straitjacket, they are punished. Bailout criteria are tightened. Austerity becomes deeper. That, after all, was Syriza’s ultimate “achievement” in Greece.
While I share President Silva’s concern at the Corbynomics of his country’s left bloc, these democratically elected parties hold the parliamentary balance of power, and the economics of his beloved single currency are just as crazy. Youth unemployment in Portugal is at 30 per cent. In its biggest exodus for 50 years, 500,000 Portuguese have left to find work in countries that aren’t suffering so badly from the eurozone’s one-size-can-never-fit-all interest-rate regime.
Without many of its brightest and best, western Europe’s poorest nation is condemned to remain so. And not just poor but supine, too. The power is not in the parliament in Lisbon but in a central bank in Frankfurt.