Reuters blog archive
The major euro zone event of the week starts on Tuesday when Germany’s top court – the Constitutional Court in Karlrsuhe – holds a two-day hearing to study complaints about the ESM euro zone bailout fund and the European Central Bank’s still-unused mechanism to buy euro zone government bonds.
The case against the latter was lodged by more than 35,000 plaintiffs. Feelings clearly run high about this despite the extraordinary calming effect the mere threat of the programme has had on the euro debt crisis. Some in Germany, including the Bundesbank, are worried that the so-called OMT could compromise the ECB's independence and would be hard to stop once launched.
A verdict won’t be delivered until later in the year but already there is already jockeying for position. Germany’s Spiegel reported that a limit had been set on the amount of bonds the ECB could buy – directly contradicting what Mario Draghi has said. That was swiftly and categorically denied by the ECB, then Executive Board Member Joerg Asmussen warned there would be "significant consequences" if Germany's constitutional court rules the bond-buying programme was illegal.
Draghi got his retaliation in first last week, saying the OMT had proved probably to be the world’s most successful monetary policy gambit. Given the dramatic fall in euro zone borrowing costs, he has a claim. French President Francois Hollande’s weekend assertion that the euro crisis is over looks a little more shaky.
from Photographers' Blog:
By Kacper Pempel
Three weeks of the Euro 2012 adventure are already behind us. Three weeks of hard work, meeting thousands of people, driving thousands of miles and shooting thousands of pictures.
As a photographer based in Poland, I was assigned to cover not only matches but also news stories in Polish cities like Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk. So I had a chance to meet people from many different parts of Europe who made the journey here for the soccer fiesta. They were genuine football lovers and real soccer fans.
Greece faces another election on June 17. Although they reject the austerity required by the bailout, most Greeks want their country to stay in the euro. However Frankfurt and Brussels say it is impossible for Greece to have one without the other: no bailout means no euro and a return to the drachma. Whether the Greek people believe these warnings could have a big impact on the election result.
First place comes with an automatic bonus of 50 seats, meaning even the slightest edge could be pivotal in determining the makeup of the next government.
Istanbul’s tiny Greek community has revived an all-but-extinct tradition by celebrating Bakla Horani, an evening of carousing at the end of carnival ahead of Lent. About 300 masked, painted and costumed revelers paraded on Monday through the streets of Istanbul’s Kurtulus district, known as Tatavla when it was home to Greeks decades ago.
The procession ended at a local hall where musicians performed rembetiko and cranked a laterna, a Greek mechanical piano. Partiers were served raki, the aniseed-flavoured spirit, and meze that featured beans. (Bakla Horani roughly translates as “eating beans,” referring to the austere Lenten diet that looms.)
What do Poland, the European Union's brightest economic light, and Greece, its dimmest, have in common? Both have plans to cut their budget deficits to the Union's prescribed 3 percent level by 2012, and both of those plans depend on a lot of ifs.
I can already hear cries of protest from Poland, the only EU member to show any growth at all last year. It that has taken great pains to distance itself from more troubled EU states and is extremely proud of its growth results, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk recently telling the Financial Times: "Who would have thought we would see the day when the Polish economy is talked about with greater respect than the German economy?"