The Great Debate UK
-Jane Foley is research director at Forex.com. The opinions expressed are her own.-
The European Union has finally agreed that an Economic and Monetary Union member country in serious fiscal difficulties will be able to receive bi-lateral assistance from its Eurozone partners as well as draw support from the International Monetary Fund.
Following weeks of discord, it had become politically important that there be a show of unity on how to deal with fiscally errant members.
In this sense the announcement of an agreement was an important step in the right direction. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, however.
from Global News Journal:
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.
from Global News Journal:
By Sangeeta Shastry
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.
- Alain Délétroz is Vice President Europe at the International Crisis Group, www.crisisgroup.org. The opinions expressed are his own. -
There is a sumptuous feast happening in Brussels, but some are better fed than others. What to many may seem an indigestible alphabet soup of new EU institutions dealing with foreign policy after the Lisbon treaty, is actually a smorgasbord of patronage, favour and influence.
from The Great Debate:
-- James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --
As odd as it sounds, concerns about the effects of a euro zone sovereign crisis on Europe's still poorly capitalized banks may prove to be the tipping point that leads to a swifter bailout of Greece.
While discussion of contagion may seem very 2008, the problems with Greece, which faces a huge fiscal deficit, are becoming tougher for euro zone authorities to leave uninsured.
The reality of 'political economy' is something that irritates many economists -- the "purists", if you like. The political element is impossible to model; it often flies in the face of textbook economics; and democratic decision-making and backroom horse trading can be notoriously difficult to predict and painfully slow. And political economy is all pervasive in 2010 -- Barack Obama's proposals to rein in the banks is rooted in public outrage; reading China's monetary and currency policies is like Kremlinology; capital curbs being introduced in Brazil and elsewhere aim to prevent market overshoot; and British budgetary policies are becoming the political football ahead of this spring's UK election. The list is long, the outcomes uncertain, the market risk high.
But nowhere is this more apparent than in well-worn arguments over the validity and future of Europe's single currency -- the new milennium's posterchild for political economy.
from Global News Journal:
So there's no question Greece has work to do to improve its bookkeeping.
Not only must it get spending in check, but it needs to be a bit more honest about where its finances stand in the first place. After all, it's not often an EU country says one month that its budget deficit is a little over three percent of GDP and admits a few weeks later that, oh dear, it's actually nearer 13 percent.
Yet it's hard not to have a little sympathy for Greece at the same time.
Its government bonds have been hammered and the price it has to pay to finance its debt has soared as financial markets have relentlessly taken it to task over the past six weeks for its profligacy.
Juergen Stark , Germany's ECB executive board member, is well known as a true believer in tight fiscal discipline, so his reported comments in Italy's Il Sole 24 Ore about not bailing Greece out of its financial difficulties are not out of character. But the market reaction must have at least given pause for thought to EU leaders wondering how far to go in coddling their wayward child.
Within moments of Stark's reported musings that markets were "deluding themselves" if they thought member states would "put their hands in their wallets to save Greece", hitting the foreign exchange rooms, the euro was on a tumble. It hit a low of $1.4285 from a day's high of $1.4371 -- which doesn't sound like a lot, but is, especially over a very short period of time.
The European Union is in danger of getting camels for its two new leadership positions -- president of the European Council and foreign policy High Representative -- because of the dysfunctional appointment process created by the Lisbon Treaty.
The secretive horse (or camel)-trading by which EU governments choose the 27-nation bloc's top office-holders seems designed to deter strong candidates and produce lowest-common-denominator outcomes. Some of the most able potential contenders would rather stay at home than take the key jobs to Brussels.
The European Union has been at the forefront in pressing for binding, internationally monitored reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and funding from industrialised countries to help developing nations switch to clean energy.