Yesterday?s decision in Brussels by eurozone leaders to disconnect financial assistance for banks from countries? public debt, and to safeguard state bonds against market aggression, is finally steering Europe toward a comprehensive solution to the crisis that is not only threatening the bloc?s cohesion, but also its very existence as a union.
Italy, it appears, threatened to depart from the eurozone if its demands met with German resistance. Germany, meanwhile, gave way for the first time since it agreed to the bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal in 2010, under coordinated pressure from Italy and Spain, who enjoyed the discreet support of France, the eurozone?s second-largest economy. Chancellor Angela Merkel was also swayed in her decision to support Italy and Spain?s demands by developments within Germany and particularly the pressure exerted on her by the Social Democrats and the Greens.
Whatever the driving forces behind the consensus reached yesterday, the fact is that the redistribution of influence in Europe appears to be leading to a new balance of power between states and political ideologies. Conservative and left-leaning forces are coming closer together, transcending their dogmatic differences, in order to find workable solutions.
Of course, Europe stepped up late in the game, especially as regards Greece. The decisions taken in Brussels yesterday will have little direct effect on this cash-strapped country, except perhaps in the future. Greece continues to be steered by the two memorandums it signed with its lenders and the commitments entailed, by high-interest borrowing, and by the deadly deepening of the recession and escalation of unemployment.
Nevertheless, the change of course that the leadership of the eurozone agreed to in Brussels yesterday does generate some hope that from now on its handling of the Greek predicament will be more levelheaded and realistic, and that it will come up with a solution before it is too late. We will see where the European Union?s leadership stands exactly when Greece?s leaders finally sit down and talk with the country?s creditors, something that hasn?t happened since that very bleak autumn of 2011.
That is, of course, if the rest of the eurozone hasn?t already written Greece off.