Last week, amid continuing turbulence in European bond markets, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy met in Paris in the latest attempt to bring the nearly two-year-old euro crisis under control. As was expected, the results were dismal. The best the conservative leaders of the two most important countries in the Eurozone could muster was a proposal that would enshrine balanced-budget rules in the national constitutions of member states and a typically vague pledge to move toward a common "economic government," giving Brussels greater powers of intervention in national budgets.
In dealing with the European debt crisis, this week's European Union (EU) summit attempted the quantum leap forward called for a few months ago by the head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Jean-Claude Trichet. Following days of intense negotiations, European leaders agreed on a new, 109 billion euro loan package for Greece and a set of supporting measures aimed at laying to rest bond market worries about the credibility of the Euro in a grueling session that started at 2 in the afternoon and ended not long before midnight. In the next few days and weeks, as details of the agreement are fleshed out, it will become clear whether Europe has finally managed to get a grip on the crisis.
Giulio Tremonti is obviously a man who thinks highly of himself. This weekend, Italy's embattled minister of finance confided to the Corriere de la Sera newspaper that a political attack which resulted in his resignation "could bring down the euro."
(AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) An elderly man watches the smoke of tear gas during clashes at the Athens' main Syntagma square.
Eurozone leaders and bankers sighed with relief and Greeks on the street groaned in disgust as debt-saddled Greece approved a new round of austerity measures Wednesday. Including 28 billion euros in spending cuts and tax increases through 2015, the concessions were a necessary condition for receiving the fifth tranche -- about 12 billion euros -- of last year's 110 billion euro loan from emergency lenders. Without it, the country would probably have defaulted in July.
(AP Photo/Koen van Weel, Pool) Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, is seen inside the courtroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands, March 30, 2011.
Last Friday, Geert Wilders, the far-right leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, made his way to the Greek Embassy in the Hague. He went to deliver a blunt message for the country: Leave the Eurozone. He read a letter to reporters outside the building urging the financially embattled Greeks to abandon the Euro -- for their own sake and the sake of the other countries in the monetary union. He was then photographed holding up a blown-up replica of a 1.000- drachma note, the old Greek currency, just in case anyone had failed to grasp his not-so-subtle exhortation.