'Extreme consequences' for Ireland if fiscal union vote rejected

Tue, Jan 24, 2012, 00:00

DEEPER UNION:FORMER GERMAN foreign minister Joschka Fischer has said there would be “extreme consequences” for Ireland should it reject a referendum on the fiscal compact.

Mr Fischer told a Dublin audience last night that this time Ireland would not get a second chance and that it would spell the end of the euro.

“You will not end up in heaven. You will end up in a very different place,” he said.

Mr Fischer was the guest speaker at the annual Henry Grattan lecture at Trinity College Dublin.

He said that the European Union is at the brink of disintegration and faces a stark immediate choice between deeper union or reversion to nation states.

Asked later to define deeper union, he said it had to mean a move towards a “United States of Europe”. Mr Fischer, who led the German Greens into government for seven years, said the future of Europe depended on the survival of the euro and the euro zone.

However, several audience members challenged him on whether or not the consequences of a No vote in a referendum would be as dire as he contended.Mr Fischer said that if the euro disintegrated he did not believe the common market would survive.

“Weaker countries will be forced to protect markets from stronger competitors . . . if it is not done in a legal way, it will be done in a de facto way,” he said.

Mr Fischer portrayed potential disintegration as a “historic disaster” and said the response needed to be immediate. “We go back into nation states or go in into political union, not within a generation but within the next two or three years.”

He said that union would need to strive for more than stability, but would need to be a “transfer Europe or a Europe of liabilities”. He said the price of euro disintegration would be very high.

“The British will face disaster because the city of London depends more on the euro than on the pound. That’s the dirty little secret of the British,” he said.