The case of Cyprus reminds us of a simple principle: in an area under the rule of law, there is no room for a community that does not comply with it. And as we cannot accept an area where rights are not respected in Marseille, likewise we cannot accept it in Cyprus either. Knowing that the issue here is not to expell the northern suburbs of Marseille from the nation, the only thing that need be done there is to enforce the law. However, for Cyprus, exclusion is possible, and should be considered.
Even if the Cyprus crisis was managed against all common sense by a Eurogroup set adrift, and although it is probable that we are going to find the 15 billion needed to plug the holes and fill the gaps in a banking system completely rotten, we cannot tolerate, in an area sharing a currency striving to become one of the most serious in the world, the presence of one of the world’s most opaque financial centers: either Cyprus becomes a country ethically irreproachable. Or Cyprus should no longer be part of the eurozone.
For some, the exit of Cyprus is inconceivable because it would lead to its collapse, causing the ruination of all Cypriots, to the transfer of the assets of its banks to the Turkish part of the island and to other havens even less scrupulous; and would transform Cyprus into an aircraft carrier for criminal powers.
I believe that we should take the risk: to let such a money laundering machine prosper in the longer term inside the eurozone, means to destroy the eurozone from within. The euro area would then attract more and more unacceptable capital, which would gain respectability, while ruining that of the euro. Cypriot banks being increasingly linked to the rest of the euro area, are expected to close their eyes on the more and more questionable nature of their depositors. In a world where the criminal economy takes on dramatic proportion, and will continue to spiral out of control, the euro would become the currency of the mafias and would not be able to become an instrument of global trade. Therefore it is necessary to impose on Cyprus, in exchange for the solidarity of the area, the most stringent rules with regard to banking transparency, that are required, and applied, by French banks, in France.
All this has been foreseeable for a number of years. At least since Greece exchanged with Germany the entry into the Union of Cyprus against that of Poland. And even more since the default of Greek banks on their corporate bonds which has particularly penalized Cypriot banks. We chose not to do anything and to wait until the last minute, which came with the Cypriot presidential elections.
Therefore even a more important lesson must be drawn from this so we stop waiting until the last minute to solve problems that have become unsolvable. In terms of financial Ethics in Europe, the problems are known and numerous. We must dare to tackle them as soon as possible:
Eliminate the other tax and banking havens: Malta, Slovenia; and beyond, think about the case of Luxembourg, whose banking and tax status will one day seriously harm the credibility of the euro. And not authorize the entry of Latvia in the eurozone, with a banking system still very unclear.
Establish viable banks in the eurozone, that are all too often even today funded in a very unstable and obscure way.
Manage the introduction, ethically justified, of the tax on financial transactions in such a way that the markets do not stifle in return the liquidity of companies, causing a major crash again.
Stop lying to everyone, suggesting that money creation will be enough to recreate growth and eliminate debt. Printing money is not ethical; it only transfers the less-safe assets in the central banks balance sheets and prepares inflation, a tax on the poorest people.
Avoid the risk of contagion of the Cyprus crisis spreading to the Italian and Spanish banking systems. Italy, in particular, suffered for several months from an alarming decline in private investment and bank credit.
In order to do all this and have finance follow a code of ethics, will require much more than a meeting of a disqualified Eurogroup. This will involve major philosophical and geopolitical choices. Who will dare to make these choices?