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February 9, 2023

A new episode of the euro crisis

A reputed international relations expert (S. Walt) has recently put together on his blog a list of the most difficult and hard to solve conflicts/crises in the world. He expects that all those conflicts will definitely be settled, the only problem being that no one knows when that will happen. Here are the ten listed conflicts (in the order of the author):  Greek-Turkish divergence in Cyprus, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the differences with nuclear connotations in Korea, the Indian-Pakistani conflict over Cashmere, the reform of the UN Security Council, the conflict in the DR Congo, the US embargo on Cuba, the EU crisis, global warming, future of ‘post-Soviet political fragments’ (Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, S. Osetia). Of course, Walt’s blog readers added more similar international conflicts and differences to the list, that have been going on for a long time and no one can tell when will be resolved.

Some of those would be the issue of post-colonial borders – a big and highly complex dossier – , the Sri Lanka conflict as well as the fact that, for instance, global warming is of a different nature to the other conflicts listed by the quoted expert.However, what catches the eye is the enumeration of the European Union crisis as a long-standing issue in Walt’s view and the fact that its solution is not yet predictable. (The expert says, of all crises and conflicts mentioned in his list, the embargo on Cuba presents the highest likelihood of receiving a solution). Walt describes the EU crisis as follows: ‘Until relatively recently, the EU was a great success story, but now it looks like one of those soap operas where the players lurch from crisis to crisis without either divorcing or reconciling. Will the Euro survive? Will the UK leave? Will right-wing fascism return? Will Berlusconi apologize to Merkel? Will Turkey ever become a member? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode …’Could European crisis be as long and time consuming as the American expert anticipates? This is a question difficult to answer, even for the fact that, whilst since the end of last year, there has been a robust optimism about the end of the crisis, especially following the construction of intervention mechanisms, pessimism has recently taken a privileged position. Especially after the legislative election in Italy, last February, where anti-austerity trends – from the tradition Left to Right, to new political formulas such as Beppe Grillo’s – superseded. Italy has not yet a government, but talks are in progress. Fears of a derailment of the country that could bring down the entire EU will be growing in keeping with the eventual implementation of anti-austerity measures. Another event adds new shades to this European pessimism about the re-emergence of the crisis and amplification of existential EU difficulties. A new party has appeared in Germany, with a declared programme for removing the country from the eurozone and return to the traditional mark or, in extremis, to a monetary union only with a few countries (the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark). The new anti-euro German party called ‘Alternative für Deutschland ‘ (Alternative for Germany) includes an important number of academics and personalities with a known right-wing past but not only, to whim the exit from the eurozone is the only choice Germany could make. The new party blog says ‘The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes.’  Proposals made regarding the future of the eurozone include the kind of structuring some commentators have assimilated to the old border separating Germanic tribes from the Roman Empire. In other words, the new Eurocentric party  – some sort of UKIP which in England threatens the electoral monopoly of traditional parties – on the banks of the River Rhine does not hesitate to divide Europe into North and South based on the theory that the euro and the EU have eroded democracy, keeping the citizen away from decision-making, and, more than that, leaving the future of the continent in the hands of the electorate and its moods. In this last respect, the new party shows the result of the Italian election there weeks ago even foretell such possibility – an anti-austerity electoral orientation that could inflame markets again, boost crisis and become a threat to the security and prosperity of the entire continent. One of the leaders of the new party, B. Lucke, says: ‘The Italian election shows how dangerous the whole euro crisis really is. Whether countries can and will pay back their debts is dependent on the unpredictable voting choices of their peoples’.The moment when this new political force appeared is also very interesting. Germany is now in the fever of election and the euro and bail-out discussion – the most current one goes on Cyprus – will undoubtedly become a favourite campaign theme. Recent opinion polls also say 65 per cent of the German public thinks the euro is damaging and 49 per cent that Germany would be better off outside the European Union. This explains why the new party founders chose this particular moment to launch it. Upon the news on the emergence of the new party, some of the forum readers-commentators expressed enthusiasm – that’s a sign of the ‘European Spring’, one of them states about the appearance of the new party – it anticipates rough days for Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen as unable to win the September election even if in a coalition of parties. They also recall the possibility of other themes being used in the German election campaign, such as the ‘invasion’ of the German labour market by Romanians and Bulgarians,–to strengthen this Eurosceptical electoral current. Events such as the above and their electoral impact obviously come to strengthen the view of the American expert who expects to see new episodes of the European crisis.

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