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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Shifting the Goalposts

I don't agree with a lot of what Anatole Kaletsky says in today's Times, but he makes an important point about Britain's "five economic tests" on joinng the European single currency:

In 1997, when the “five tests” were invented, the Government’s position was that joining the euro would be a politically unpopular and painful decision that might be necessary for Britain because of the overwhelming economic benefits of the single currency. Now the relationship between politics and economics has been reversed. We must now join because of the “overwhelming political benefits” (a phrase Mr Blair now habitually uses in his speeches), provided membership does not entail significant economic costs. The purpose of the Treasury assessment is no longer to prove that Britain will gain economically from the euro. It is to make sure that the British economy is not wrecked by joining on the wrong terms or at the wrong time.