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  1. Wealth
April 3, 2012

EU-watching, my favourite sport

By Spear's

It doesn’t matter what time you get up, you know the EU’s minions are out there already making fools of themselves

If you’re a racing pundit, you have to be up early on the gallops lying in the wet grass watching the sweaty nags through steamed up binoculars. If you’re a birdwatcher, it’s out on the flats at dawn in your waders to join 50,000 other twitchers to catch sight for a split-second of a greater-billed, lesser-spotted horny nitwit enjoying its first belch of the day.

If you’re a football fan, it’s out dodging the engineering works on the rail network every Saturday just to end up chanting in the cold with 50,000 other gormless ones watching the wage-packets boot a ball around a park, while you try and stay warm by singing ‘The ref is a wanker!’

I much prefer to be an EU-watcher. It doesn’t matter what time you get up, you know its minions are out there already making fools of themselves, by declaring water has nothing to do with dehydration and designing ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ condoms.

The other advantage is that this species of nit-wit signal with plenty of warning that they are approaching the next elephant trap and you already know they are guaranteed to fall into it, which demystifies the difficult art of prophecy and makes you look good every time you call the inevitable shots.

Take last week as a classic example. The EU’s unelected eurocrats, following the €130 billion bail-out of Greece, announced the end of the sovereign debt crisis as they knew it, which is like a WW2 early-warning banshee wail that it’s all about to start up again, but only worse. Next day there are siren voices saying Greece needs another bail-out as the deal doesn’t add up and Greece will anyway need more hand-outs to stay in the eurozone.

Well, you would never have guessed it, would you! Under this new release of the latest smoke-screen, the markets start eyeing up Spain and Portugal, and suddenly the numbers don’t begin to add up there either.

No worries, say the EU chieftains, we’re all off to Copenhagen for the weekend to raise the flood defences higher. They get there, only to discover no one has any spare cash, so they all look towards the Brandenburg Gates, but the Germans tell them to ‘Ausfart off!’ Net result, there’s only €700 billion in the kitty, not the €1.3 billion forecast, which is of course meat and drink to the speculators, while the EU staffers ring up the nice French lady at the IMF to ask for the difference. Then the Greek PM Lucas Papademos helpfully announces what everyone else knew by now, that Greece will need another bail-out!

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Not to be outdone, Cristobal Montoro, Spain’s Finance Minister, announces from Copenhagen that “Spain is going to stop being a problem…” – wait for it!, and on a day when the world was watching Spain’s National Strike against its austerity budget, which threatens to spread the country’s appalling unemployment of 22%, and 52% among the under-25s, into every last corner of the peninsula – “especially for the Spanish people and the European Union”! Roll over Beethoven! You really couldn’t make it up if you tried – that’s why I just love the EU. Bugger birdwatching for a lark, now just watch Spain unravel fast.

But enough of this Schadenfreude, enjoyable though it may be. Our own Coalition Government managed to cause a totally unpredictable crisis out of nothing, when a Cabinet Minister advised motorists to top up fuel in jerry-cans, causing one housewife to blow herself up as she siphoned fuel off into jam jars.

It must have been the single stupidest action by a politician just about ever. Except that it wasn’t: the minister concerned was Francis Maude, that Tory perennial stalwart – you know the sort who can’t get anything right – the man who signed that Maastricht Treaty, definitely the stupidest and most dangerous Act of Parliament ever to reach the Statute Book, and which now threatens to blow up its own creation, the eurozone. Some mothers do ’ave ’em.

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