Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Greece gets help, but debt quicksand is all around

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After five months of struggling to stay afloat in the quicksand of a debt crisis, Greece has finally asked the European Union and the IMF to throw it a lifeline

Some might think that’s the end of it — Greece now has access to up to 45 billion euros in special funds, it can finance its deficit and refinance its debts at better rates, and speculators (who have metaphorically been stepping on Greece’s head while it thrashes around in the quicksand) have to beat a retreat.

But not so fast. Greece is just one link in the chain of 16 countries using the euro single currency. As such — and under the terms of the rescue package the euro zone agreed for Greece this month — the 15 others share a part in hauling Athens out of its predicament.

While Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands may have the financial strength to do that, other euro participants are far weedier and are already up to their knees or ankles in quagmires of their own. In the playground-bullying that is often the driving mentality of financial markets, this is just the sort of situation where speculators start pressing down on the heads of some of the other countries wading in debt. And there are quite a few candidates to choose from.

EU asks public what it thinks of CAP reform

- EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos

EU Commissioner Dacian Ciolos

The European Commission’s agriculture department launched a public debate this week on the future reform of Europe’s common agricultural policy (CAP) from 2014. It wants everyone – not just farmers and politicians – to have their say on how the European Union should support agricultural production.

It’s odd then that the only question that’s off limits in the debate, according to EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, is the one on everybody’s lips: how much taxpayers’ money should the CAP get?

Markets call euro zone’s bluff on Greek aid

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The surge in the spread of Greek bond yields over German ones since European leaders issued a promise of emergency loans to Greece last month indicates financial markets do not believe the pledge of euro zone support is anything more than a bluff.

And they are itching to call it.

Euro zone leaders have been betting that a promise of loans to Greece and strong words of political support will be enough to calm markets and allow Athens to borrow at more reasonable rates, therefore rendering any real aid — the dreaded bailout — unnecessary.

Can a European diplomatic service really work?

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As experiments in political unity go, Europe’s External Action Service takes some beating.

The budding diplomatic corps of the European Union, with a name that sounds like an off-shoot of Britain’s SAS, is supposed to represent the unified interests of the EU’s 27 member states to the rest of the world.

What flesh will be put on the bones of an EMF?

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In the space of a few weeks, the idea of creating a European Monetary Fund to rescue financially troubled EU member states has gone from being a high-level brainwave from a pair of economists to a major policy initiative backed by powerbroker Germany. In EU terms, that’s Formula One fast.

Yet while German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be behind the concept, even if she has concerns about a possible need to change the EU’s treaty, no one has put much flesh on the bones of the idea apart from the original proponents — Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies and Thomas Mayer, the chief economist of Deutsche Bank.

EU to tackle gender pay inequality

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By Sangeeta Shastry EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding

Men are still paid more than women in Europe but the European Union is promising to narrow the gap.

The executive European Commission set out its plans to address the pay gap between men and women at a news conference to coincide with International Women’s Day, saying women were on average earning only 82 percent of male rates in the EU.

EU tests its vision with 2020 strategy

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In 2000, the European Union set its sights on becoming the world’s most dynamic, knowledge-based economy by 2010. It failed. Economic recession hardly helped, but EU officials acknowledge its goals may have been a little too ambitious.

On Wednesday the European Commission, the EU executive, unveiled a new 10-year plan to boost economic growth and create jobs. The Europe 2020 strategy is intended to create a greener and more prosperous economy and will be the centrepiece of the EU’s efforts to emerge from financial crisis.

Sniping mars EU image and unity

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- Herman Van Rompuy

Herman Van Rompuy

The European Union seems to have developed a habit of shooting itself in the foot.

The latest self-inflicted wound was an attack on Wednesday by a euro-sceptic British member of the European Parliament who dismissed Herman Van Rompuy, the new EU president, as a “damp rag” who had no legitimacy and threatened democracy. 

EU, NATO officials call for gender equality

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By Sangeeta Shastry
     European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

European Commission Vice-President Margot Wallstrom and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

European Union and NATO officials have joined forces in calling
for new efforts to ensure women are more involved in peacekeeping
and conflict resolution. But differences remain on how to do so, and
on whether gender quotas are the solution.

Europe draws inspiration from U.S. Peace Corps

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- Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, talks to a Haitian orphan

Carla Bruni, wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, talks to a Haitian orphan

Much criticism has been heaped on the European Union — the vast majority of it by its own member states — for not being seen to do enough to help Haiti after the Caribbean state’s earthquake. 

Never mind the fact EU states and the European Commission have promised a combined 400 million euros  ($575 million) in aid and long-term reconstruction. In public relations terms, the sums have all but been eclipsed by images, beamed around the world, of  volunteer U.S. firemen pulling victims from the rubble, and emergency aid workers from the likes of Israel and Brazil running much-needed field hospitals.

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