I READ with interest Jim Taylor’s take (Letters, September 29) on my previous contribution in favour of flexibility towards Scotland joining EFTA as opposed to strict pursuance of full EU membership. In my letter I did not recommend that Greece welch on debt, but wanted to imply that outwith the euro Greece would have greater options on debt restructuring. In fairness, I could have made that clearer.

The core EU nations unofficially led by Germany are, for me, unsympathetic to the marginalised nations. The peripheral nations are not only in the unjustly maligned south. Finland and Ireland too have felt the chill wind of EU indifference. While this hostile and unsupportive atmosphere persists, I fear more crises are coming, probably in the outer nations and perhaps very soon. Ominously too, alienation from the core is on the rise, and the powerful nations have so far failed to address the trend. Perhaps Brexit is not a one-off.

The most frustrating thing is that solutions have been identified. A unified banking system for the eurozone is needed, as is fairer wealth redistribution throughout the entire union. The latter is probably more controversial in the core powerful nations but the bullet has to be bitten if their own stagnant economies are ever to regain meaningful growth again. Continual austerity has to be eased significantly; controlled inflation can be be reintroduced over a clamour of protest from the bankers.

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The last recommendation will help the severely indebted nations like the UK and Greece by reducing the relative scale of of debt compared to GDP. The UK is doing it to an extent, but straitjacketed Greece can’t.

The IMF now admit that their Greek (and Irish) interventions resulted in economic contraction (IMF country reports on Greece and on Ireland, 13/156 of 2013 and 15/20 of 2015 respectively) but, significantly, the EU itself has yet to make any similar admission. Their mantra continues to be “there is no alternative”. I say to them and to Jim Taylor, yes, there is an alternative. In fact there are several but I prefer the obvious one. The EU should have identified Greece’s and others’ emerging problems and dealt with the issues earlier and in-house, thereby avoiding punitive intervention by the IMF which only ensured continued economic devastation for small nations, virtually none of whose massive debt was utilised within the countries to rebuild GDP. It flowed straight back to banks in the world’s wealthier nations, notably banks in France and Germany. Problem exacerbated not solved, exactly like the in Asian crisis of 1997 where IMF interventions caused devastation on a similar or even greater scale than it has in Greece.

Mr Taylor says Norway, outwith the EU, cannot influence politically in the same way as full member EU states can. While undeniably true, the realpolitik is far more nuanced. The powerful nations within Europe oppose politicians within other, usually smaller or more marginalised, member states who advocate raised spending to end austerity.

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They openly and actively opposed Greece’s anti-austerity government and they tried to stop a legitimate referendum which sought Greek citizens’ views on the IMF deal. They effectively replaced Italy’s (admittedly inept and corrupt) Berlusconi with an EU mandarin and they have opposed a cabinet appointment recently in the same “independent” nation presumably on the basis that the appointee was was oppositional towards the EU. Even though democratically elected and properly selected for high office by the Italian Government, the appointee was out of office within days. Portugal’s anti-austerity budget was opposed by the EU, but here fortunately a compromise was agreed, as Portugal had by that time freed itself from the grasps of its IMF “rescue” package. I’d like to see the EU try some of these tactics with Norway.

Through time, study and observation, my views on the EU have changed. I’m still a remainer, but Norway’s relationship with the EU looks like an attractive and flexible option for Scotland too, perhaps temporarily as we wait to see if the EU can switch back to being a cooperative and supportive union and in the process ditch neoliberal dogma that has held it back for decades.

David Crines