Opinion

Paul Taylor

Analysis: Franco-German chill reshuffles cards in Europe

Paul Taylor
Dec 10, 2012 06:58 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A chill has settled over the Rhine seven months after the election of Socialist French President Francois Hollande, reshuffling the cards in Europe’s perpetual power game.

The cooling of traditionally close Franco-German relations was partly an intentional step by Hollande to demonstrate that he is not in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pocket but wants to change the policy direction of the European Union.

It also reflects a fraught process of rebalancing power to accommodate Germany’s greater political heft and economic clout.

Despite vows of ever closer cooperation that are sure to mark the 50th anniversary next month of the treaty that sealed post-war Franco-German reconciliation, tension is likely to simmer at least until next September’s German general election.

Hollande was keen to distance himself from his conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy’s exclusive alliance with the German leader, which became known as “Merkozy” because of the dominant role they played in steering the euro zone debt crisis.

Wanted: A bridge-builder for the euro zone

Paul Taylor
Dec 5, 2012 19:04 UTC

PARIS, Dec 5 (Reuters) – The hunt is on for a competent,
articulate consensus-builder to succeed veteran Luxembourg Prime
Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as chairman of euro zone finance
ministers and help the currency bloc to emerge from crisis.

Juncker, 57, who has held the job since 2005 and has been a
leading protagonist in Europe’s monetary union ever since the
1991 Maastricht treaty, said on Monday he would step down as
Eurogroup chief at the end of the year or early next year.

His announcement set off a scramble to find a figure
acceptable both to fiscally conservative north European
AAA-rated states and to southern countries struggling to rein in
debts and deficits and regain economic competitiveness.

Greek deal puts euro zone in slow recovery room

Paul Taylor
Dec 2, 2012 10:06 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The euro zone is in the recovery room now the danger of a Greek default has been averted for a couple of years, but it is not yet safe from a Japanese-style “lost decade”.

The currency area’s escape route hinges more on the pace of expansion in the United States and China, lifting the world economy, than on the policy mix in Europe, which will continue to favour austerity over growth in 2013.

At best, Ireland and Portugal could emerge slimmed down from their bailout programmes and regain capital market access by the end of the year, demonstrating that adherence to a tough fiscal adjustment plan can work.

Analysis: Greek deal puts euro zone in slow recovery room

Paul Taylor
Dec 2, 2012 09:42 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The euro zone is in the recovery room now the danger of a Greek default has been averted for a couple of years, but it is not yet safe from a Japanese-style “lost decade”.

The currency area’s escape route hinges more on the pace of expansion in the United States and China, lifting the world economy, than on the policy mix in Europe, which will continue to favour austerity over growth in 2013.

At best, Ireland and Portugal could emerge slimmed down from their bailout programmes and regain capital market access by the end of the year, demonstrating that adherence to a tough fiscal adjustment plan can work.

German hint of Greek debt relief raises euro hopes

Paul Taylor
Nov 26, 2012 10:52 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Three years into the euro zone’s debt crisis, Germany’s finance minister hinted tantalisingly last week at a potential breakthrough.

Behind closed doors at a meeting in Paris of a small group of senior policymakers, Wolfgang Schaeuble indicated that Berlin could eventually agree to write off some of the money it has lent Greece, in order to make its debt sustainable.

Three people present or briefed on the talks said Schaeuble had suggested there could be some kind of “conditional debt relief” for Athens if it sticks to tough economic reforms.

Analysis: German hint of Greek debt relief raises euro hopes

Paul Taylor
Nov 26, 2012 06:55 UTC

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Three years into the euro zone’s debt crisis, Germany’s finance minister hinted tantalisingly last week at a potential breakthrough.

Behind closed doors at a meeting in Paris of a small group of senior policymakers, Wolfgang Schaeuble indicated that Berlin could eventually agree to write off some of the money it has lent Greece, in order to make its debt sustainable.

Three people present or briefed on the talks said Schaeuble had suggested there could be some kind of “conditional debt relief” for Athens if it sticks to tough economic reforms.

Analysis: New Mideast balance constrains Israel Gaza action

Paul Taylor
Nov 19, 2012 18:44 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A new balance of power in the Middle East will limit Israel’s ability to impose its ceasefire terms on Hamas in Gaza, but technology is compensating by curbing the Islamist militants’ capacity to cause casualties in the Jewish state.

The strategic environment has changed radically since the last major armed conflict between Israel and Hamas in the winter of 2008-09, which involved an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip and ended with 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli dead.

Arab Spring uprisings have brought the Muslim Brotherhood – soulmates of Hamas – to power in Egypt, Israel’s southern neighbor which controls the Gaza enclave’s only other border, and in Tunisia, toppling veteran Western-backed autocrats.

Analysis – New Middle East balance constrains Israel Gaza action

Paul Taylor
Nov 19, 2012 18:37 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – A new balance of power in the Middle East will limit Israel’s ability to impose its ceasefire terms on Hamas in Gaza, but technology is compensating by curbing the Islamist militants’ capacity to cause casualties in the Jewish state.

The strategic environment has changed radically since the last major armed conflict between Israel and Hamas in the winter of 2008-09, which involved an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip and ended with 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli dead.

Arab Spring uprisings have brought the Muslim Brotherhood – soul mates of Hamas – to power in Egypt, Israel’s southern neighbour which controls the Gaza enclave’s only other border, and in Tunisia, toppling veteran Western-backed autocrats.

Analysis: Euro zone ponders best path to “GEMU”

Paul Taylor
Oct 29, 2012 05:58 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – In the rich lexicon of Brussels acronyms, a new treasure has entered the vocabulary since June: GEMU.

It stands for Genuine Economic and Monetary Union, a term used in the conclusions of the last two European Union summits in a tacit acknowledgement that the single currency created by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty was flawed and woefully incomplete.

It also signals that Europe’s leaders are starting to shift their focus from fingers-in-the-dike crisis management to save the euro to a longer-term process of building a more robust, storm-resistant architecture for the currency area.

EU faces two tough months of bargaining to boost euro confidence

Paul Taylor
Oct 21, 2012 22:32 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – European Union leaders face two months of tough bargaining on money, power and the future governance of the euro zone before they can boost confidence that the existential threat to the single currency has faded.

The European Central Bank’s pledge to buy the bonds of struggling euro zone countries in unlimited amounts has changed the terms of Europe’s debt crisis.

Yet French President Francois Hollande may have been a little premature in declaring a turning point last week after another night of summit negotiation yielded a deal for a euro zone banking regulator to be launched next year.

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