Back to warmwell.com website


http://www.guardian.co.uk/eu/story/0,7369,1498452,00.html
The road from here

Four scenarios

Friday June 3, 2005
The Guardian


Meltdown

What could happen?

Bitter recriminations after French and Dutch rejection of constitutional treaty, followed by domino effect of massive no votes in Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic. Backlash leads to crisis of legitimacy in which member states demand renationalisation of policies now run by EU. French demand protectionism to keep out low-tax eastern European competitors. Refusal to recognise judgments of European court of justice. Sceptical member states vote massively to withdraw from union but seek to retain access to the single market.

The euro

Deepening recession in eurozone. Heavy political pressure on European Central Bank leads to sharp interest rate cut and loss of confidence followed by runaway inflation. Italian debt crisis triggers departure from single currency to adopt the "nuova lira", pegged to sterling, the Chinese yuan and the US dollar.

Leadership

Rotating presidency grinds to a halt when Malta (population 400,000) takes over all EU business in second half of 2008. US cherrypicks new coalition of willing Europeans, including Britain, Poland and Italy, to invade Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Britain

Prime minister Gordon Brown, despairing of the European economic reform process, calls and wins referendum on UK withdrawal from the EU to join North American Free Trade Area or expanded European Free Trade Association.

Enlargement

Turkey told it cannot proceed with membership negotiations because of popular opposition. Offered associate status instead but rejects that to join Saudi Arabia in loose, US-backed Middle Eastern federation.

Will it happen?

About as likely as the UK winning Eurovision again.

Muddle through

What could happen?

EU rules revert by default to the 2001 Nice treaty, but there is a deep crisis of confidence as stagnation sets in and policy initiatives are blocked by the cumbersome voting system. There are bitter quarrels between Brussels-bashing member states and the European commission. It becomes difficult to forge EU policies on environment and foreign policy to stand up to the US. The economic reform agenda moves forward agonisingly slowly.

The euro

Economic growth picks up when tougher welfare and labour reforms are pushed through by German's new conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, after September's elections. But Netherlands and other smaller eurozone countries still resent breaches of budget deficit rules by France, Germany and Italy.

Leadership

Big governments try to salvage elements of the constitution, creating an EU foreign minister and diplomatic service, but small countries demand guarantee that they can keep representation on the European commission, quickly leading to deadlock.

Britain

Referendum postponed, then cancelled but Blair gets plaudits for handling EU presidency despite difficulties with Chirac, who demands the UK surrender its annual £3.2bn budget rebate. Membership of euro goes into deep freeze.

Enlargement

Membership talks with Turkey begin in October but move so slowly that Turks soon call for a unilateral cessation. Romania and Bulgarian membership in 2007 under threat of veto by French parliament. Croatia joins after handing over war crimes suspect to Hague tribunal

Will it happen?

Odds on in Brussels.

Two Europes

What could happen?

Integrationist-minded Old Europeans - France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg - forge federalist "hard core" with new treaty and defy liberal economic orthodoxy to pledge to preserve European social model of high tax, generous welfare benefits, sustainability and environmental protection. Northern sceptics stay out of eurozone. New eastern members waver but also stay out

The euro

French socialist leader Laurent Fabius wins 2007 presidential election; Gerhard Schröder hangs on. France, Germany and Italy run large deficits as unemployment remains high and productivity low, causing loss of competitiveness, the euro's downward drift and friction with the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Leadership

Franco-German-Belgian initiative sets up European army with HQ in Brussels as Nato splits over US reform proposals.

Britain

With a booming economy, UK stays out of the euro and the Schengen passport-free zone and roars along in outer lane of "two-speed" Europe, fighting in vain for more deregulation. Tories, under David Davis, call for withdrawal.

Enlargement

French parliament votes yes to Romania but blocks Bulgarian membership. Turkish frustration grows as negotiations bog down. There are angry protests outside EU offices in Ankara.

Will it happen?

The stuff of Elysée Palace fantasies.

United States of Europe

What could happen?

Constitution quickly renegotiated to take on board French, Dutch and other concerns. Enlargement creates fully federal union of 30-plus countries. Turkey joins EU in 2015 to become the largest member state with 80 million people and more voting power than Germany. European economy becomes the world's most dynamic and competitive. Nicolas Sarkozy and Tony Blair chosen as joint presidents of EU, replaced after five years by a former president of Turkey.

The euro

Replaces US dollar as global reserve currency. Common agricultural policy scrapped as EU adopts liberal trade policies. US political commentators write doomsday scenarios about the Coming European Peril.

Leadership

European parliament, still based in Strasbourg and Brussels, votes overwhelmingly to mandate the EU president and commission to airlift European army units, using the military version of Airbus, into action to defend Turkey from CIA-backed Iraqi Kurdish forces.

Britain

Britain scraps the pound and adopts the euro. It surrenders its seat on the UN security council in favour of a common EU seat, but only after forcing a still reluctant France to follow suit.

Enlargement

Norway and Switzerland cast aside their doubts and join, as do Russia and Israel. Cyprus reunited as Turkish troops withdrawn. Algeria, Libya and Morocco apply for fast-track membership.

Will it happen?

In your dreams, Mr Delors.


Interactive guide
European Union enlargement

Special reports
European Union
The euro
France | Germany | Italy | Austria | Cyprus | Turkey
The issue explained
02.06.2005: Q&A: The French EU referendum

Useful links
Europa (EU homepage)
European parliament
Council of the European Union
European commission
European court of justice
EU committee of the regions
European Economic and Social Committee