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