A major World Bank study, published this month, lauds the European Union as an extraordinary economic success story and concludes that the current turmoil, far from being a terminal failure, should be the trigger for reforms to improve the community’s weak points. The thorough, richly documented analysis provides a strong antidote to prevailing prescriptions of the euro’s impending doom. Such euro-pessimism has prevailed in recent years, as the Eurozone has struggled to address bouts of mismanagement and muddled leadership within its ranks. Deep flaws within the monetary union were exposed, along with the resulting structural imbalances in the system, when the global financial storm broke over the continent nearly five years age.
Greece has had to bear the brunt of not only economic hardship but also relentless international criticism that the nation has a bloated public sector and an unsustainable social welfare system and is also beset by rampant systematic corruption and tax evasion.
After weeks of agonizing negotiations among Greek government officials, private lenders and other international creditors, the governing coalition in Athens has finally given approval to the latest round of austerity measures in order to receive a second bail-out – in time to meet its deadline for preventing a messy and potentially contagious default on its national debt in March.
The outcome of the Brussels summit on December 8th and 9th is a disaster for the UK and also threatens the integrity of the single market, says a well-reported article by Charles Grant, head of the Centre for European Reform, a European-minded but independent think-tank in London.
The most significant result so far in the crucial euro summit has been British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to opt out of a proposed agreement on national budgets that would have involved some forfeit of national sovereignty. The plan is aimed at restoring future credibility to the euro and, although Britain never adopted the euro and is therefore not in the eurozone, the proposal was desigend to cover all EU member states.
© COPYRIGHT THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE 2009
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