French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo credit: Sebastian Zwez
As new data emerges suggesting the eurozone is close to slipping back into recession, what came out of the latest EU summit on the crisis?
Sarkozy v. Cameron. Bruno Waterfield reported for The Telegraph that French President Nicolas Sarkozy took aim at UK Prime Minister David Cameron during the summit. Quoting unnamed diplomats, Waterfield said that Sarkozy told Cameron: “We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn’t want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings.” Which may make their next encounter rather awkward; Cameron has rearranged his schedule to attend the next EU summit on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Germany on top. Perhaps Sarkozy was taking out his frustration at feeling second best – according to David Gow in The Guardian, the summit demonstrated that Germany has the upper hand in the German-Franco relationship, with France “in full retreat” over the role of the European Financial Stability fund in solving the eurozone crisis.
Italy in the spotlight. “In many ways, the euro-zone debt crisis is now all about Italy,” according to an Economist blog. The blog argued that eurozone leaders are tiring of Italian President Silvio Berlusconi’s “buffoonery”, given that all of the main issues surrounding the survival of the monetary union hinge on Italy’s weakened economy.
Failed idea. According to a Times (£) editorial, the EU summit demonstrated “the failure of an idea”. The only option, argued the editorial, appears to be greater fiscal integration, but this may not play well with national voters: “It is a grotesque but foreseeable irony that whereas the integrationist project was supposed to create comity between nations, it has instead aggravated tensions.”
British re-think. Simon Heffer made the same point in The Daily Mail, writing that greater fiscal integration would not just affect the eurozone: “A fiscal union would have a profound effect on Britain as an EU member,” he said, referencing today’s Commons vote on the motion for a referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Doomed? Writing on a New York Times blog, Paul Krugman was pessimistic about the survival of the eurzone: “The bitter truth is that it’s looking more and more as if the euro system is doomed. And the even more bitter truth is that given the way that system has been performing, Europe might be better off if it collapses sooner rather than later,” he said. Krugman argued that the idea of a financial rescue fund is flawed, as it would have to be backed by the major European governments – yet some of these major European governments have decidedly “shaky” economies.