"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ireland must stand against protectionism in the EU

From today's Financial Times:
"Britain, Italy and the Netherlands are preparing a joint denunciation of protectionism in the European Union, wrecking hopes that the issue could be ducked at an economic summit starting in Brussels on Thursday. Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s finance minister, is drafting a joint letter criticising “economic nationalism” and is assembling a coalition of liberal-minded colleagues to sign it ahead of the summit.
Finance ministers in Denmark, Ireland and Sweden are understood to be among the other free-marketeers invited to sign the letter."

Brian Cowen should sign on the dotted line. The Italian initiative is a worthy one. (It can, of course, validly be argued that Italy itself is not consistent in its free trade posture, give, for example, its support for tariffs on Chinese textile imports.) The news report in the FT cites fears that it "throw into disarray plans by the EU’s Austrian presidency to keep protectionism off the agenda of the two-day summit, to be attended by finance ministers." Such disarray can only be for the good. There are few more crucial arguments to be won in Europe today than the arguments in favour of open markets. Ireland's economic success is attributable in large degree to the openness of our economy. Foreign investment, job creation and labour have been crucial to the dynamism and growth of the last decade or so. For once this "five feet high nation" has the chance to show the way.


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