Eurozone crisis: Merkel and Sarkozy must rise to the occasion
21 July 2011
Settling the Greece crisis and ensuring the future of the single currency; the high stakes of the Euro Zone Summit require that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy finally assume their responsibilities, warns the French daily Le Monde in an editorial.
“No spectacular progress.” Nothing exceptional is expected from the Summit of Euro Zone leaders, scheduled for Thursday, July 21 in Brussels, called to attempt, once again, to save Greece and beyond that the single currency.
Angel Merkel’s choice of words, Tuesday in Brussels, was, we hope, an antiphrasis, a way for the German Chancellor to attenuate anticipations in order to be more surprising.
Today, waiting is not an option. We have waited too long. Something exceptional, not to say spectacular is necessary. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy must imperatively work towards this end. And succeed.
Contagion has become a reality
The Greek tragedy has lasted too long. The crisis is no longer a Greek debt crisis; it’s a crisis of the euro, of European governance, of Europe, to put it simply. Europeans, undecided and divided, can continue, as they have done for the past eighteen months, to patch an overly-worn out tyre. While this will allow continuing temporarily on the way, it won’t solve the problem.
On-going negotiations between the euro zone central bankers are no longer worthy of the stakes. Each is trying to defend his interests with no concern for the collective good. It’s a distressing spectacle. It will become explosive.
More haphazard reparations – such as adding funds to the European Financial Stability Facility, the fund designed to help countries in difficulty – will perhaps allow riding – a little – further on. Until a new explosion occurs. When we hear that the idea of the day is a tax on banks, we don’t know if we should laugh or cry. It will be just another patch.
After Greece, Ireland and Portugal, other countries – Italy and Spain – are hit. Contagion has become a reality. Europe’s integrity is threatened as is its competiveness and even its existence as a major economic power. We must come out ahead, we must change the tyre.
The responsibility lies with Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. They are the only ones, today, in Europe, capable of rising above the national interests at stake in this crisis, capable of arguing in favour of the general good.
And the general good, for everyone, is to save the euro, which undoubtedly requires more transfer of sovereignty. The euro is not only the currency of 350 million Europeans. It is, henceforth, a common good, one of the major global currencies. Some, in Germany, many think they can do without it. That’s false. Globalisation doesn’t mean uniformity but regionalism. Tomorrow’s world will be made up of major blocs – monetary, notably – which will speak as equals. Germany would be wrong to think that it would be more powerful without Europe.
Ms Merkel and Mr Sarkozy are at a point in their political careers when History calls – and it is calling them to go beyond their immediate national interests. They must answer that call. An exceptional crisis requires exceptional solutions.
Translated from the French by Pat Brett