Category Archives: European Union

Why Is Europe a Dirty Word? – NYTimes.com

Why Is Europe a Dirty Word? – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Columnist

Why Is Europe a Dirty Word?

PARIS

QUELLE horreur! One of the uglier revelations about President Obama emerging from the Republican primaries is that he is trying to turn the United States into Europe.

“He wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state,” warned Mitt Romney. Countless versions of that horrific vision creep into Romney’s speeches, suggesting that it would “poison the very spirit of America.”

Rick Santorum agrees, fretting that Obama is “trying to impose some sort of European socialism on the United States.”

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Yet there is something serious going on. The Republican candidates unleash these attacks on Obama because so many Americans have in mind a caricature of Europe as an effete, failed socialist system. As Romney puts it: “Europe isn’t working in Europe. It’s not going to work here.”

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But the basic notion of Europe as a failure is a dangerous misconception. The reality is far more complicated.

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It’s absurd to dismiss Europe. After all, Norway is richer per capita than the United States. Moreover, according to figures from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, per-capita G.N.P. in France was 64 percent of the American figure in 1960. That rose to 73 percent by 2010. Zut alors! The socialists gained on us!

Meanwhile, they did it without breaking a sweat. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that employed Americans averaged 1,741 hours at work in 2010. In France, the figure was 1,439 hours.

If Europe was as anticapitalist as Americans assume, its companies would be collapsing. But there are 172 European corporations among the Fortune Global 500, compared with just 133 from the United States.

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Charlemagne: Summit for one | The Economist

Charlemagne: Summit for one | The Economist.

Charlemagne

Summit for one

The self-delusion of European leaders as they wrangle over yet another treaty

DINNER for one”, a 1963 British comedy sketch barely known in its country of origin, is Germans’ favourite television viewing on New Year’s Eve. Year after year they delight at the sight of Miss Sophie celebrating her 90th birthday with only her butler, James, for company. He is commanded to follow “the same procedure as last year”, going around the table impersonating each of the now-dead dinner guests, raising toast after toast and becoming ever more drunk.

As one awful year for the euro zone made way for another, the German television network ARD digitally retouched the original sketch to create a spoof of European Union summits. Angela Merkel was the bossy dowager. Nicolas Sarkozy was the faithful butler, taking on the roles of departed leaders: George Papandreou of Greece, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain and, although he is still in office, David Cameron of Britain. (Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is a tiger-skin carpet on the floor.) The joke was clear: summits are empty charades, only Mrs Merkel matters and Mr Sarkozy is her comical servant.

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Where Is Europe? – NYTimes.com

Where Is Europe? – NYTimes.com.

January 9, 2012, 10:03 pm

Where Is Europe?

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Britain and Europe, divided by more than a channel – The Washington Post

Britain and Europe, divided by more than a channel – The Washington Post.

Britain and Europe, divided by more than a channel

By , Published: December 22
Oh, how I love humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

G.K. Chesterton

Under the strain of the debt crisis, Europe is revealing cracks it has long tried to plaster, paint and ignore.

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent veto of a tighter European fiscal union brought angry criticism. Some continental legislators called for a European Union without the inconvenience of the United Kingdom. French leaders, with their own country’s credit rating under threat of downgrade, tried to direct the attention of rating agencies to British economic failures — a blame-shifting strategy practiced by guilty children on playgrounds everywhere. “There are few more comic spectacles,” responded the Daily Mail, “than Frenchmen throwing fits of Gallic pique against the victors of Waterloo.” In hours of national need, England still turns to the Duke of Wellington. History persists.

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Sir Mervyn King: debt crisis is causing a dangerous ‘dependence on central banks’ – Telegraph

Sir Mervyn King: debt crisis is causing a dangerous ‘dependence on central banks’ – Telegraph.

Sir Mervyn King: debt crisis is causing a dangerous ‘dependence on central banks’

Sir Mervyn King has used his position as vice-chairman of Europe‘s “early warning watchdog” to warn that the developing debt crisis is causing a dangerous “dependence on central banks”.

10:24PM GMT 22 Dec 2011

Just a day after the European Central Bank (ECB) provided a record €489bn (£407bn) of cheap loans to banks, the Governor of the Bank of England said the crisis had been made worse by “negative interlinkages”. He added: “Dependence on central banks has risen and signs are intensifying that stressed financial conditions are passing through to the real economy.” Sir Mervyn was speaking in Berlin following a meeting of the European System Risk Board.

His comments were taken as a view on the ECB’s radical refinancing operation unleashed on Wednesday. The action, which saw 523 banks borrow nearly half a trillion euros, is known as the “Sarko trade” after French leader Nicolas Sarkozy said the liquidity would allow each state to “turn to its banks” for finance. Economists have warned that making banks buy risky sovereign debt will not help the crisis.

But European markets were buoyed by the liquidity injection. In France the CAC rose 1.36pc and German DAX ended the day 1.05pc higher. In London, the FTSE 100 climbed 1.25pc.

Sir Mervyn said the action would help in the short term but called for longer-term solutions, including getting the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the so-called “big bazooka” bail-out fund, up and running.

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European financial crisis: Is Europe a mess because Germans work hard and Greeks are lazy? – Slate Magazine

European financial crisis: Is Europe a mess because Germans work hard and Greeks are lazy? – Slate Magazine.

Are Greeks Lazy?

Europe is a mess because Germans work hard and Greeks are shiftless. False!

Almost 150 years ago, the great English economic essayist Walter Bagehot pondered the problem of European monetary integration in the The Economist. At the time, Italy had just been unified in the wake of the Austro-Prussian War and it was clear that Germany, still divided into several separate political entities, was heading in that direction. How far would consolidation go, from an economic point of view? It was clear enough to Bagehot that a single European currency would never do, but two currencies might. Rather, he looked forward to a future in which “there would be one Teutonic money and one Latin money” and posited that “looking to the commercial activity of the Teutonic races, and the comparative torpor of the Latin races, no doubt the Teutonic money would be most frequently preferred.”

The language and reference to alleged racial differences between Latins and Teutons are outdated, but the basic economic claim remains.

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Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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The Merkelization of Europe – By Paul Hockenos | Foreign Policy

The Merkelization of Europe – By Paul Hockenos | Foreign Policy.

The Merkelization of Europe

A European Germany has become a German Europe — and it’s all downhill from here.

BY PAUL HOCKENOS | DECEMBER 9, 2011
Not so long ago, France was the political driver and Germany the economic motor of the European Union. “Now,” remarked former European Commission president Romani Prodi in February, it is Merkel “that decides and Sarkozy that holds a press conference to explain her decisions.” This searing image could be embellished with the 24 EU members cowering in the press room — and Britain now watching through the window.

Now that Britain has sidelined itself from the historic “fiscal compact” concluded in Brussels on Dec. 9, which provides the EU with new powers to enforce stricter discipline in national budgets, the community appears even more fiercely segregated within its own ranks. Pathetically, the Brits walked not because of the starkly deficient democratic procedure or the fact these governance changes wouldn’t adequately address the euro quagmire, but rather to protect London’s financial services industry from regulations that were part of the deal.

This isn’t the way European Union was supposed to work, not at all, and Germany’s one-woman show — ostensibly in Europe’s name — could well doom the continent’s beautiful project. Merkel may look like the big winner today, seemingly with Europe at Germany’s feet, but this turn of events could well prove to no country’s detriment more than Germany’s.

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Germany has to make a fateful choice – FT.com

Germany has to make a fateful choice – FT.com.

Germany has to make a fateful choice

By Martin Wolf

“Perhaps future historians will consider Maastricht a decisive step towards the emergence of a stable, European-wide power. Yet there is another, darker possibility. The effort to bind states together may lead, instead, to a huge increase in frictions among them. If so, the event would meet the classical definition of tragedy: hubris (arrogance); ate (folly); nemesis (destruction).”

I wrote the above in the Financial Times almost 20 years ago. My fears are coming true. This crisis has done more than demonstrate that the initial design of the eurozone was defective, as most intelligent analysts then knew; it has also revealed – and, in the process, exacerbated – a fundamental lack of trust, let alone sense of shared identity, among the peoples locked together in what has become a marriage of inconvenience.

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Read the full story here: Financial Times

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The British Euro Farce – NYTimes.com

The British Euro Farce – NYTimes.com.

Op-Ed Columnist

The British Euro Farce

LONDON — The British, or rather English, mistrust of what lies beyond the Channel has always been fathomless. W.H. Auden, observing a “cult of salads,” jested that “before very long” the south of England would resemble “the Continong.” There across the sea, on a suspect Continent, lay lands of constitutions, Napoleonic legal codes, defeated armies, imperfect freedom, rabies, wife-swapping and garlic.

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Euro Deal is a Pill, but Experts Doubt It Is a Cure – NYTimes.com

Euro Deal is a Pill, but Experts Doubt It Is a Cure – NYTimes.com.

News Analysis

Chronic Pain for the Euro

VIENNA — The deal on Friday in Brussels to reformulate the rules of the euro zone has probably saved the shared currency for now — but there may be less to it than meets the eye.

At least four major issues still need to be resolved: how much money is needed to protect Italy now from speculative attack; whether banks will stumble because of the crisis; the isolation of Britain, which does not belong to the euro zone; and not least, whether the Brussels cure, prescribed by Germany, fits the disease.

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