Will the EU Survive? The View From Aspen

More

A conversation about what lies ahead for Europe, with possible scenarios ranging from gloomy to gloomier

RTR2K79D-615.jpg

Reuters

I moderated a session at the Aspen Ideas Festival yesterday on the topic, "Will the European Union Survive?" The panel was Richard Haass, Simon Johnson and Beppe Severgnini--so we were one American, two Americanized Brits, and one bona fide European. How's that for global?

Severgnini, one of Italy's best-known political and cultural commentators, and an astute observer of the US too, was the most optimistic of the bunch (clip here). This is how Europe makes progress, he argued--by muddling through from crisis to crisis. Johnson was gloomier, emphasizing how much harder modern financial markets have made it to maintain that old approach. They are far bigger than they used to be, and much less patient. Slip up and the punishment might be swift and devastating. Meanwhile, the EU keeps failing to address its underlying problems.

These are points you'd think were obvious, but apparently not. This week's EU summit--hailed for now at least as a breakthrough--made some progress but seems to me another instance of playing for time (see previous post). Europe's already pressed its luck too far.

Notes from the Aspen Ideas Festival -- See full coverage

Haass made an important point, I thought. We keep looking for a "solution", but there is no once-and-for-all solution: the challenge is to manage an ongoing condition. He had no doubt that the EU would survive--the eurozone in its present configuration was another matter--but a better question would be to ask whether it will prosper. His answer? No, it won't. Muddling through might avoid an outright collapse, but Europe shows too little appetite for the structural reforms that would be needed to improve longer-term growth. The condition it has to manage is secular decline.

Asked what advice he'd give to EU leaders attending the summit, Severgnini said he'd tell Angela Merkel to explain to Germans why it was in their own best interests to support the EU's struggling economies more generously. Johnson said they needed to start discussing an orderly dismantling of the euro system.

Maybe next time.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

An Eerie Tour of Chernobyl's Wasteland

"Do not touch the water. There is nothing more irradiated than the water itself."


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In