OPINION

Divided we fall

The wheeling and dealing currently going on, including last weekend’s summit in Brussels, provides the leaders of the European Union with an historic chance to show whether they are capable of leading the continent toward calmer waters or whether they will go down in history as tragically incompetent. We did not expect the summit to solve all of the problems that Europe and the world face, because no one knows just how bad the global economic crisis will be nor what the best medicine would be. But what we do know is that the future of Europe will depend on the level of cooperation that the EU leaders achieve in their search for solutions, or, if they go the other way, in their pursuit of shortsighted national interests at the expense of the common good. In the last few months the crisis has forced many to change their minds and abandon their dogmas. We have reached the point where there is talk about the possibility of a «euro-bond» being issued, which would help the weaker members of the eurozone escape the noose of ever-increasing interest rates on their bonds. The debate is being held even though such «solidarity» is contrary to the rules of the monetary union and Germany, the EU member whose economic clout counts far more than the others, was traditionally opposed to any loosening of the rules. Also, the EU has decided to support the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank joining with the World Bank to loan them 24.5 billion euros. At another level, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has raised the possibility of a return to protectionism with his stated desire to support the French economy and French workers at the expense of other EU member states. Countries that are outside the eurozone, such as Poland, feel the need to join it as soon as possible, so as to escape the uncontrollable forces buffeting their currencies. Even Iceland, which is not even an EU member, has expressed interest in adopting the euro. (Continued on Page 2)