Monday, March 2, 2009

Seeing Double


We have markedly different takes on the situation in Europe from an American and a French newspaper this morning. The Times takes a decidedly downbeat view of this weekend's European summit, sees the east-west cleavage developing rapidly and threatening the Union itself, and is already imagining the collapse of Ukraine and possible Russian (I almost wrote "Soviet") intervention. Meanwhile, Libé, or at any rate Libé's EU correspondent and blogger Jean Quatremer, sees a "reaffirmation of European solidarity." Alas, that solidarity is illustrated by an image of Sarkozy and Berlusconi arm-in-arm (reproduced here). And then we have Sarko illustrating his idea of solidarity with this sibylline phrase: "Entre le protectionnisme et le libre-échangisme, il y a un équilibre." Indeed. In fact, I'd go farther and say that there are multiple equilibria. The question for Europe is whether it will choose among these the optimal or the less optimal, and the signs thus far are not encouraging.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman gives Europe an F.

1 comment:

éloi laurent said...

Art,
Confusion, indeed!

The most painful East-West (press) divide this morning occurs within the FT, between the "maison mère" in London (“EU to aid countries in eastern Europe”) and FT Deutschland (“EU rejects emergency aid for eastern Europe”). I would go for once with the WSJ: "EU Rejects a Rescue of Faltering East Europe"

If you are already puzzled by the German "Nein" position, you will likely be even more when you read p. 91 and 92 of the Commission Report on the 5 years of enlargement (yes, we are celebrating enlargement in Brussels this very day!):
http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/publication14078_en.pdf

P. 106 gives a clear picture of the roots of the financial crisis in EE, and p. 107 shows why the de facto interdependance makes the German position even more difficult to understand (Germany is going to let Austria, which is exposed for more than half of its GDP in Eastern Europe, go bankrupt, seriously?)

Best,
Eloi.