Sunday, December 4, 2011

Summarizing the Current Situation in Europe – Dithering and Withering

Maybe a Few Less Meetings and a Few More Actions - Would that be Okay?

Watching Europe stumble through its current crisis is like watching the beginning of a massive train wreck in very slow motion.  It is fascinating, horrifying, and there is nothing one can do but watch and hope, and hope is just about ready to leave the room.  The news is beginning to take on the aura of farce, as this report in the New York Times illustrates.

Invoking platitudes and blabber at a level thought only attainable by U. S. politicians, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany said

“The future of the euro is inseparable from European unity. The journey before us is long and will be anything but easy,” she said. “But I am convinced that we are on the right path. It is the right path to take to reach our common goal: a strong Germany in a strong European Union that will benefit the people in Germany, in Europe.”

and invoked the evolution of policy in Europe to a marathon.  She may not be aware of the fact that the first man to run a marathon in ancient Greece ran the race, delivered his news and fell dead.

And here was a not reassuring comment.

Germany, she said, did not wish to dominate Europe. “That is far-fetched,” she said.

France’s President Sarkozy is not very optimistic

The European Union needs “an overhaul,” Mr. Sarkozy said, to remain relevant and competitive, but he was vague about the details of what needs to be done.

“If Europe does not change quickly enough, global history will be written without Europe,” he said. “Europe needs more solidarity, and that means more discipline.”

while Britain decided to leave Europe to its own devices

We need the euro zone to resolve their crisis. We need the countries of the euro to stand behind their currency,” George Osborne, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, said shortly before Mr. Cameron traveled to Paris. “We do need the countries of the euro to work more closely together to sort out their problems.”

Britain doesn’t want to be a part of that integration — we’ve got our own national interests — but it is in our economic interest that they do sort themselves out. The biggest boost that could happen to the British economy this autumn would be a resolution of the euro crisis,” Mr. Osborne said.

which when you get past the smugness (every day for 15 minutes Britains get to smirk about not joining the Euro) is British-speak for “even though Britain needs a strong European economy we’re going to focus only on ourselves, but fix it you guys because otherwise we in Britain will not do well.”  Not exactly Churchillian is it.

One thing the Europeans do well is have meetings.  Meetings after meetings. 

Mr. Cameron’s discussions in Paris came in advance of talks between Mr. Sarkozy and Mrs. Merkel on Monday to be followed by a summit of European leaders in a week’s time.

and as those of us who are refugees from the real world of both business and academia know only too well, the best but very rare outcome of a meeting is that the problem is not made worse.

And in conclusion

On Friday, Mrs. Merkel again appealed for a strengthening of fiscal cooperation across the euro zone in what she called a “union of stability” able to enforce controls on individual European economies.

which only makes one want to go back and re-read the part about how Germany doesn’t want to dominate Europe.  Really, what in the recent past history of the continent could possibly make anyone think that in the first place?

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