OPINION

A symmetrical union

The European Union — Greece included — is holding its breath ahead of the Brussels summit scheduled to take place on December 9. During the meeting, the leaders of the bloc?s member states are likely to hammer out an agreement which will offer eurozone countries some relief from their mammoth debts and safeguard the future of their common currency.

A solution is likely, but also necessary. Time is pressing for a solution. The debt crisis, which has brought the weaker nations on the European periphery to their knees, is now also threatening to take a toll on the continent?s heavyweights.

Nevertheless, it is not certain that the Brussels summit will provide a final, or even a short-term, solution to the mounting problem. Since the beginning of the Greek crisis about two years ago, European leaders have behaved in a very indecisive manner, kicking the can down the road and always ducking drastic solutions. As a result, the remedies have become more expensive and more complex at every stage.

The changes in the EU treaties and the strict fiscal controls announced recently by Berlin — which were accepted by Paris — could provide some respite from the storm. However, this will only happen if Germany decides once and for all to shake off its obsessions about including deficit limits in the constitution and punishing states that break these limits, regardless of outside conditions.

Giving up sovereignty is only acceptable if the confederation can guarantee political equality and symmetrical, viable growth for all partners of the European community.

Otherwise, an inflexible unification without guarantees of symmetry and cohesion may temporarily save the euro, but will undermine Europe?s political integration project in the long run.

But if there?s one thing we have learned from the crisis, it is that most of Europe?s problems lie with the economic as well as political asymmetry which has fueled prejudice, self-interest, foot-dragging and centrifugal forces that disrupted the union.

This pan-European demand for symmetry, cohesion and sustainability should be Greece?s contribution toward the debate about Europe in the 21st century.