C.Cantoni sent this terse announcement a few hours ago:
Denmark has suspended the Schengen treaty and re-introduced controls at its borders with Germany and Sweden. It was announced by the country’s Finance Minister, Claus Hjort Frederiksen. . .
As our regular readers know, the Baron has been following closely the events in Italy as its coast continues to be inundated with boatloads of refugees from North Africa and environs. Besides documenting the numbers of asylum-seekers, he’s also been commenting on the EU’s stunning willingness to let Italy simply drown in effluvia.
Though the bureaucrats in Brussels have offered some limited, limp-wristed assistance and a few sermons, there has been a marked lack of any robust help for Italy during this siege. However, it appears they’re actually worried enough to hold secret meetings about the situation.
The most concise and informative MSM story [I could find] was half a world away, here:
The tensions in the euro zone should be more than a matter of academic interest for Britain and other non-euro nations. The Schengen agreement, which guarantees passport-free travel across the bulk of the EU, one of the cornerstones of the European project, is unravelling as France closes its border with Italy and more desperate immigrants pour in from North Africa.
European diplomacy is falling flat. This is not just because Baroness Ashton of Upholland, the EU’s foreign policy chief, has a feeble grasp of EU bureaucracy, but also because there are now fundamental differences between France and Germany, and a leadership vacuum at the heart of the union.
No wonder European finance ministers met in secret in Luxembourg last Friday night. Resistance to any further bailouts is building in the German coalition, which stretches from Finland to France. There is desperation in the air and Britain should pay attention. This is about the future of our continent: not just our major trading partners, but the European order.
Yes, “no wonder” they convened that
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”
Who might say the above in a public forum? The shame-faced CEO of Enron, perhaps. Or some shadowy architect of the Vietnam War era. Or Richard Nixon…
The actual quote comes from Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg. No one worries much about Luxembourg. But Mr. Juncker is also “the head of the Eurogroup council of eurozone finance ministers” (whatever that means, via The Wall Street Journal). He has held the job since 2005.
In saying “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Mr. Juncker was apparently talking about the serious conditions in the eurozone. The necessary lies -- this time at least -- were in regards to the euro.
“Just before 6 p.m. [on Friday],” the WSJ reports, “German news magazine Spiegel Online distributed a report saying that eurozone finance ministers were convening a secret, emergency meeting in Luxembourg that evening to discuss a Greek demand to quit the eurozone.”
Reporters frantically phoned Mr. Juncker’s spokesman, Guy Schuller, to verify the “secret meeting” assertion Spiegel Online had made. The official word: No meeting. Even though there actually was one.
“I was told to say there was no meeting,” Mr. Schuller told the WSJ. “We had certain necessities to consider… there was a very good reason to deny that the meeting was taking place.”
It was “self-preservation,” Schuller added, speaking for his finance minister boss.
The finance ministers could have instructed him to say, “Yes, we are meeting -- but not about a Greek currency exit.”
Instead they just fibbed. And blamed it on the exigencies of the moment.
Does this really matter? On one level, not really. “A prominent politician instructs his subordinate to lie… in other news, grass is green and water is wet.”
On another level, though, the incident is very telling.
“When the matter is serious, you have to lie.” Mr. Juncker made that statement in April, on videotape, at a conference on economic governance. He further admits at the conference that he has “had to lie” before.
And this man heads up all the finance ministers. Remind me again, as the eurozone lurches toward crisis, why in the world anyone listens to a bloody thing the European pols have to say?
Perhaps we would be better off listening to Finnish political leader Timo Soini, who wrote the following in an open letter to the WSJ, “Why I Don’t Support Europe’s Bailouts:”
To understand the real nature and purpose of the bailouts, we first have to understand who really benefits from them…
The rest is well worth reading. It includes this observation:
As we have long said in these pages, Europe is being held together with duct tape.
You can go here to read Finland’s Timo Soini’s Wall Street Journal essay.
None of this bears openly and directly with the refugee tsunami currently slamming into Italy. However, you can bet the most proximate cause of that the secret meeting in Luxembourg is not just Greece’s threats. A more potent threat to stability is the North African mess. It only impinges on Club Med at the moment but those waves will surely lap at the shores of the whole European continent before much longer.
Thus Denmark’s withdrawal from the Schengen Agreement is merely the first public step before the crowds are all trying to get out the door at once.
For context on the rules and the players, here’s the BBC’s question and answer page on the Schengen Agreement.
As our readers also well know, the Baron is expert-in-residence on things European, at least here on this blog. Since he's away, if anyone wants to chime in with more information on this subject, your links would be welcome