Away from the political turmoil, the bewildering complexity and the human misery at the root of it all, a couple of interesting overviews. First, the shock of final disillusionment from Fintan O’Toole. already scarred by the experience of the Irish bailout.
What’s the difference between the Mafia and the current European leadership? The Mafia makes you an offer you can’t refuse. The leaders of the European Union offer you a deal you can neither refuse nor accept without destroying yourself.
The European Union as we have known it ended over the weekend. That EU project was all about the gradual convergence of equal nations into an “ever closer union”. That’s finished now.
A new idea has been shoved into the foundations of the EU – the idea that a member state can and will be brought to heel. And brought to heel, not quietly or subtly, but openly and ritually in a Theatre of Cruelty designed for that sole purpose.
The whole idea of making flagrantly provocative demands – the initial insistence that €50 billion of Greek public assets be placed in a fund in Luxembourg being the most spectacular – was to demonstrate, not just to Greece but to all member states, that the EU is now a coercive institution.
A less apocalyptical and broader view from the historian of modern Greece, Mark Mazower.
Whoever was to blame, it is clear that the consequences for continental solidarity have been toxic. The longer the crisis dragged on, the more it has corroded the continent’s political culture and revealed the depths of our ignorance of one another’s countries and traditions. Journalists reached for easy stereotypes – where would the papers have been without the Nazis or the Kaiser, or for ancient Greek wisdoms or Zorba? As Greek laziness met Prussian rigidity and self-righteousness, ethics became a tool of parochialism.
Faced with these rising national passions, the challenge to the euro will continue to exist, whether an agreement is patched up with the Greeks or not, since even if the euro survives it will do so in a continent of different political traditions and economic performance, and that means that a system of redistribution from surplus to deficit countries needs to become part of the culture. ..
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London