George Eustice: We must prepare for euro break-up

It is easy to deliver effective comms around issues over which you have control. But the big challenge facing governments is how to manage comms around events that are unpredictable and beyond their control.

George Eustice: We must prepare for euro break-up
George Eustice: We must prepare for euro break-up

There is currently no crisis more pressing than the eurozone and media handling is made more complicated given that anything said has an impact on jittery markets.

The euro was always a bad idea. That it happened at all was a triumph of political belligerence over economic reason. The governments of most EU countries jumped on board simply because they felt fearful of being left behind. Those countries that held a referendum, such as Sweden and Denmark, said no.

While EU governments were attracted to the idea of the euro, they never signed up to its consequences. Countries like Greece refused to accept the need for fiscal discipline and countries like Germany refused to accept that they would need to make major cash transfers to weaker economies. Evangelists for European integration would say a good crisis is the spur from which full political and fiscal union can follow. But, after the elections in Greece and France, such extraordinary talk sounds hollow and dangerous.

While Britain was sensible enough not to join the euro, it cannot isolate itself from the consequences of a break-up. British banks have an exposure of some EUR700bn to the eurozone and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the euro is affecting confidence in the economy. The Government cannot control events but must adopt the right stance to allow it to respond to them. Publicly it is right to say what is required for the euro to survive but, privately, it ought to be war gaming how a partial break-up could be managed.

The Government must also start articulating an alternative strategic vision for the future of the EU.

The relentless focus on 'ever closer union' has proved disastrous and we need a new direction. The Government has just started work on examining the balance of competencies held by the EU with a view to taking powers back in any post-euro settlement. Not before time.

George Eustice is Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth and a former press secretary to David Cameron.

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