This was predictable:
French president François Hollande marks his Brussels debut by challenging chancellor Angela Merkel over bailout
A special EU summit marking the debut of France’s President François Hollande saw him challenge Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, on the euro, arguing that the pooling of eurozone debt liability – eurobonds – had to be retained as an option for saving the currency. Merkel has ruled out eurobonds as illegal under current EU law.
Hollande told the dinner of 27 leaders that he wanted to see eurobonds established, while conceding that this would take time, witnesses at the talks said.
Merkel responded that this was nigh-on impossible since it would require changes to the German constitution and around 10 separate legal changes, the sources said.
There was no policy breakthrough at the summit, rather a reiteration by leaders of known positions. Any decisions were postponed until the end of next month after French and Greek parliamentary elections on 17 June.
Illegal? Require changes? Well, they created this mess by changing laws and constitutions, now they need to fix it by changing the laws and the EU constitution. Chancellor Merkel sounds more and more like George W. Bush, “it’s hard work” (read: I don’t want to do this). The Euro Zone nations can’t have their cake and eat it, too. They want Greece to to stay in the Euro Zone but they want them to accept the austerity agreement that the Greeks have clearly rejected.
In a New York Times Op-Ed, Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate and a professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard, points out that the EU economic crisis is a road to hell paved with good intentions:
There are two reasons for this.
First, intentions can be respectable without being clearheaded, and the foundations of the current austerity policy, combined with the rigidities of Europe’s monetary union (in the absence of fiscal union), have hardly been a model of cogency and sagacity. Second, an intention that is fine on its own can conflict with a more urgent priority – in this case, the preservation of a democratic Europe that is concerned about societal well-being. These are values for which Europe has fought, over many decades. [..]
Europe cannot revive itself without addressing two areas of political legitimacy. First, Europe cannot hand itself over to the unilateral views – or good intentions – of experts without public reasoning and informed consent of its citizens. Given the transparent disdain for the public, it is no surprise that in election after election the public has shown its dissatisfaction by voting out incumbents.
Second, both democracy and the chance of creating good policy are undermined when ineffective and blatantly unjust policies are dictated by leaders. The obvious failure of the austerity mandates imposed so far has undermined not only public participation – a value in itself – but also the possibility of arriving at a sensible, and sensibly timed, solution.
This is a surely a far cry from the “united democratic Europe” that the pioneers of European unity sought.
As David Dayen said, “we’re are essentially in a holding pattern” until the Greek and French Parliament elections on June 17. Please, do not hold your breath for a good solution, no matter what you may think a good solution is. Not everyone is going to be happy at the end of this. Let’s hope it’s the austerians who are unhappiest.