One is a considerable admirer of the work of Dr. Richard North and his estimable EUReferendum blog, which has been an inspiration to many and the scourge of plenty of others.
It is thus with some apprehension that one approaches his post on Merkel and Draghi with a view to making the proposition that he has, perhaps, on this occasion, missed a trick and forgotten one of the cardinal rules, that of getting it right beyond reproach of our enemies.
One of the things one has learnt in the great struggle against The Beast which is the Brussels Behemoth is that Eurosceptics must always have chapter and verse to hand, whilst the Euro LickSpittles can get away with murder.
If Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, goes on to the Today programme, any suspected error of fact or law will be pounced on by Humphrys or that irritating gobby little Scots fellow or the egregious Evan Davis. Being less than 100% on the money with the detail the sneering classes will……well, sneer, ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’.
But if Lord Ashdown or Heseltine or Denis McShane slips an outrageous howler in, it is allowed to go unremarked.
So here’s the thing…..
On this occasion Dr. North has alighted on the divergence of views between Frau Merkel and Signor Draghi and the position under the Treaties in which the European Central Bank stands. It is a good place to alight, let us face it.
Firstly he cites “Article 13 of the consolidated treaty (p. 23)”.
The product of Rome/Euratom-Merger-Single Act-Maastricht-Amsterdam-Nice-Lisbon is to be found in two Treaties: The Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on The Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), so Dr. North was in fact referring to Article 13 of TEU.
And here is where he fails, this time, to slide home the stiletto beneath the rib-cage. In order properly to make his case – and one does not dispute his premise that whatever it may say in the treaties, the European Central Bank (ECB) is ultimately the political handmaiden of the Great Ones and thus when he says he is independent, Draghi speaks with forked tongue – one needs the whole picture.
Thus Dr. North should have drawn our attention to Article 130 TFEU:
When exercising the powers and carrying out the tasks and duties conferred upon them by the Treaties and the Statute of the ESCB and of the ECB, neither the European Central Bank, nor a national central bank, nor any member of their decision-making bodies shall seek or take instructions from Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, from any government of a Member State or from any other body. The Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies and the governments of the Member States undertake to respect this principle and not to seek to influence the members of the decision-making bodies of the European Central Bank or of the national central banks in the performance of their tasks.
If one is to judge properly what Signor Draghi has to say on the matter of his independence, you cannot do so without reference to this Article. Only when you see this in all its awful glory can you begin properly to judge the actions of Draghi and the ECB and set word and deed against the law..
In an entirely formal sense, Draghi is right. The Treaties in theory guarantee his independence.
But much as Gordon Brown leant on the Governor of the Bank of England, The Great Ones will lean on Draghi. Independence then becomes a somewhat nugatory quality.
Thus, Dr. North has not fully explained just how grave a set of porkies Draghi is telling and, in turn, exactly just how mendacious are the assertions Draghi makes.
One might also make the observation that this is an example of how, by spreading the legal stuff across two documents – an everyday trick of the EU and its collaborationist politicians – it is made easier for the enemy to hide the wood in the trees. And to conceal the point that whichever way you cut it, the ECB is by virtue of Article 13 TEU firmly part of the EU polity and that Article 130 TFEU is not actually worth the paper it is printed on.
The bottom line, however, is this. The EU may have all sorts of Treaties, Decisions, Agreements, Directives, Framework Decisions, Regulations and all the indicia of a state committed to the Rule of Law, but actually the EU is utterly mired in illegality. It is this which those engaged in the business of getting the UK out of the EU have to drill home day in day out. But we must also be right when we accuse.
Thus one may look at what Draghi and his satraps are up to and set them against the legal framework. Then you have the full picture. And only then can one drive the nail home.
You have to be right, otherwise you will lie sprawled on the Today studio floor with the words “And what is your authority for that….?” ringing in your ears.
Draghi does, of course, speak with forked tongue. Not for nothing did former Italian President Francesco Cossiga call him, in 2008, “a craven moneyman”. Draghi is, after all, an Italian Banker and will therefore have had daily experience of speaking with forked tongue.