It’s not 27 national elections, as some in Brussels would have us believe. It’s one European election, and there’s just one issue: The economy, stupid. Which is where Iceland enters the picture — in Switzerland. Neither country is an EU member, but that’s what makes our continent so interesting, don’t you think? Anyway, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso is speaking in Davos and what does he do? He makes the comparison that makes Dublin cringe. According to the Irish Times: “It is interesting to compare Ireland with Iceland,” Mr Barroso told delegates. “They are two relatively small economies but the difference was — among others — that Ireland was a member of the euro area (and) so a country in a respected currency.”
Yes, but, how long will the currency remain respected? In case you didn’t read the weekend Financial Times, you mightn’t have heard that “Moody’s warns it may downgrade Ireland“. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as it were. “Ireland has already been given a warning that it could soon lose its triple A status by rival agency Standard & Poor’s, which has already downgraded Spain, Greece and Portugal in recent weeks.” Unlike Iceland, Spain, Greece and Portugal all use the same “respected currency” that Ireland does.
What does this mean for June’s election? Well, a lot, actually. Instability in the euro zone could pit member states against each other and voters in the EU’s struggling economies will either blame Brussels for their woes or turn on politicians nearer to home. Either way, something’s got to give and someone’s got to pay for the coming pain. It’s the economy, you see.