No to the euro in Sweden
The Rt Hon. Lord Lamont of Lerwick
The decision to join or not to join the Euro is a hugely important one for Sweden. A yes vote will, of course, be irreversible. A no vote is far from final. If it is a no vote, it seems unlikely that the Euro enthusiasts will let the matter rest. With a no vote the door will inevitably remain open for further reflection.
This issue is one for the Swedish people alone to decide. I would not presume to tell the Swedish people what they should do. But our two countries are closely bound together. If Sweden says yes it will hugely increase the pressure on Britain to join the single currency. Similarly a referendum in Britain and a yes vote will increase the pressure on Sweden. We are bound together. So we are naturally keenly interested in what is happening here.
There is a further connection between our two countries on this matter of the Euro. Our two countries are different in many ways: our economic structures, our institutions and our histories are strikingly different. But the arguments in our two countries are the same. In both countries the desperation of the elites and the euro fanatics has produced some widespread weak and fallacious arguments.
Firstly the argument that Sweden and Britain will “lose influence and be isolated” outside the Eurozone. Of course if you do not join something you have no influence on how it operates. Self-evidently, if Sweden and Britain do not join the Euro they will not have that tiny input that one any individual country has in setting one interest rate in the Eurozone.. We would have no say in setting European interest rates any more than we have a say in the setting of American interest rates. But far more importantly we would keep the right to make decisions for our own countries, and to set interest rates for our economic conditions to benefit our own citizens.
There must be many people in Germany today who wish they had retained the Deutschmark and the flexibility that comes from a floating currency and your own interest rate.
We might have no influence on the Growth and Stability Pact. But we would be outside its nonsensical constraints that have held back recovery in France and Germany.
It is sometimes said that no country is free to set its own interest rates. Of course, in the modern world, everybody influences everybody else. But it is emphatically not true that individual countries do not have significant freedom of manoeuvre to set sometimes strikingly different interest rates from one another. You merely need to look at the movements in interest rates over the last ten years in different countries to see that.
Then we are told that Sweden and Britain will in some mysterious way loose all influence over other quite unrelated issues if we do not join the Euro. Are our partners really so petty that the views of Sweden and Britain on say defence or Foreign Policy or the reform of a Common Agricultural Policy would count for nothing if we are not members of the Euro? The idea is an insult to the whole idea of the EU. If members of the EU really behave like that who would we wish to be members?
If members of the EU really behave like that who would we wish to be members?
It is vitally important that Britain and Sweden stand together. By doing so, we can slow down the headlong rush into a centralised evermore bureaucratic Europe. By standing outside the Euro, Sweden and Britain can make it more difficult for the EU to move to tax harmonisation – a move which goes hand in hand with the Euro. At the moment Sweden’s rights to set its own taxes are protected and embedded in the Treaties. No one can take that right away from you. Sweden can set its own taxes, have its own level of Government spending and its own welfare provision. Join the Euro and tax harmonisation will follow as night follows day, and you will lose the freedom to decide these matters for yourselves. And what will be the point of elections and democracy then?
By standing outside the Euro, Sweden and Britain can make it more difficult for the EU to move to tax harmonisation – a move which goes hand in hand with the Euro… And what will be the point of elections and democracy then?