The Great Debate

EU enters lame duck year amid challenges

Paul Taylor Great Debate– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

The European Union is entering a lame duck year just as new challenges are mounting from Israel’s assault on Gaza, Russia’s gas cut-off to Ukraine and the impending inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama.

The EU’s active crisis management in the Georgia war and the global financial meltdown last year under the energetic leadership of French President Nicolas Sarkozy was an exception, not the dawn of a new, more effective Union.

Europe now faces 12 months of stasis with two peripheral small countries – the Czech Republic and Sweden — holding the six-month rotating presidency, EU legislation on hold because of European Parliament elections in June, and the European Commission winding down to the end of its term in November.

Domestic politics in key member states will also constrain EU initiatives. Germany, the biggest member state, has a general election in September in which the two major parties in its ungainly grand coalition will be fighting each other.

The U.S. won’t stomach a new Bretton Woods

diana-furchtgott-roth1 — Diana Furchtgott-Roth,former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. The opinions expressed are her own. —

Leaders of the Group of 20 countries meeting in Washington on Nov. 15 are hoping that America’s role in the global financial crisis will shame President George W. Bush, or maybe President-elect Barack Obama, into supporting greater international financial regulation, diminishing America’s role in international financial institutions.

But America is unlikely to give up control over its financial sector, certainly not under Bush, and probably not even under the internationally-popular Obama.