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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Greece cannot lose.

Very few informed Europeans can be ignorant of the fact that the Greek Finance Minister is a game theorist who has pushed the art to its limit in classes and in academic journals worldwide. He knows what game he is playing.

Most of the uninformed subjects of the eurorats of Brussels have accepted the proposition that the issue with Greece is one of financial probity: it is said that Greece has been even more profligate than Ireland or Italy since it joined the Euro, and needs to stick to its undertakings to bring its finances into line with the demands of the EU, the ECB and the IMF.

Not many people outside the UK and Russia want to admit that the European Union is in every element of its being a political structure. It has massive economic ramifications, but they are, and always have been, subject to the political imperative of ever-closer union. While the originators of the project were clear that their underlying motive was to remove the possibility of internecine war from the European continent; it is no longer anything like so clear-cut as to what Union - let alone 'ever-closer union' - is meant to achieve.

The common currency, the euro, was purely a political venture. Again, it had economic implications that have far exceeded the prognostications with which it was ushered into existence; but the fact that it was an adjunct to the political process was never challenged seriously. Thus in declaring that the participating states had sufficiently 'converged' in their economic plans and data that they were fit to share a common currency the political judgement transcended the economic in all cases. It was common gossip that Italy and the Iberian countries, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus had window-dressed [i.e. had optimistically massaged] their data, with the EU further airbrushing the picture: these were seen as trivia in the achievement of the greater objective.

With that as the basis on which the whole structure rests, political fudge is available to maintain the appearance of the structure; at least for the purblind pursuers of the tarnished 'ideal'. Greece will make further promises, almost on schedule by the middle of this week. Funds will be released. Conditions will be promulgated that nobody can expect genuinely to be fulfilled. Austerity in Greece will be eased: but not by enough to maintain the fickle electorate's faith in the new government. So the European Union will stagger on into another decade where the central accounts of the Commission will not properly be audited and ever-more-egregious fantasy declarations of the Commission will be respected to some extent in various of the member states.

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