The 3 concepts of Environment, Growth and Democracy cannot co exist. The false hope of having a healthy environment, exponential economic growth and a flourishing democracy has been exposed drammatically since the failure of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. The final act of this tragi-comedy was played out during the G-20 summit in November 2011, when Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece was told his idea of a referendum to decide the fate of the next austerity measures would not be allowed. If he pursued the idea, an $8 billion bail out, essential for Greece to exist, which had been agreed, would be witheld.
Silvio Berlusconi, at the same conference, arrived without any extra proposals to rein in Italy’s $2 trillion debt, perhaps hoping for some “bunga bunga”. He was told EU commissioners would be installed in every Italian government department to ensure austerity measures were enacted. The next issue of Italian government bonds saw no purchases by the European Central Bank which had intervened when other PIIGS nations bond issues had been undersubscribed. The interest rate on Italian bond issues climed over 7%, Italy was facing financial collapse caused by the recently formed “Frankfurt Group” at the very same G-20 Summit that disposed of the elected Greek Prime Minister.
The European Union has always had problems with democracy, a messy process that can interfere with the grand designs of people at the top who know best. When Ireland voted no to the Nice Treaty, it was told to come up with the right result in a second ballot. The real decisions in Europe are now taken by the Frankfurt Group, an unelected cabal made of up eight people: Lagarde; Merkel; Sarkozy; Mario Draghi, the new president of the ECB; José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission; Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the Eurogroup; Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European Council; and Olli Rehn, Europe’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner.
This group, which is accountable to no one, calls the shots in Europe. The cabal decides whether Greece should be allowed to hold a referendum and if and when Athens should get the next tranche of its bailout cash. What matters to this group is what the financial markets think not what voters might want.
To the extent that governments had any power, it has been removed and placed in the hands of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF. It is as if the democratic clock has been turned back to the days when France was ruled by the Bourbons. (Larry Elliot, Guardian, 9/11/2011).