Having spent months warning readers about the incompetence of Europe’s political leadership and the incoherence of its institutional structures, I thought I had seen the worst. But for even this hardened and cynical observer who has had years of watching European ineptitude the last 24 hours have been a revelation: the Europeans are totally at sea.The Greek government has fallen apart; nobody in the cabinet or out knows what is happening or what should be done.Silvio Berlusconi’s authority has collapsed in Italy, but while Berlusconi can’t govern anymore, nobody else can take the reins. At a moment of grave financial crisis, the Italian ship is drifting rudderless in a stormy sea.Europe’s institutions cannot cope. Decades of building intricate rules and complicated institutions have failed to create an institutional architecture than can resolve basic disputes.Not all of Europe’s leaders are empty suits. Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Olli Rehn and a surprisingly large number of others are people of real substance and conviction. George Papandreou is a serious man. But the absence of an effective organizational structure plus the failure (perhaps because it was impossible) to build a European political culture means that in Europe the whole is much less than the sum of the parts.We can still hope that sheer desperation will force the Europeans into some kind of coherent action. The house is on fire, the boat is headed for Niagara Falls, the cow flops are hitting the fan, the dam has broken and the volcano is erupting: perhaps somebody somewhere will act.But right now the world’s largest economic bloc is running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This is not a drill.
The Comprehensive Eurofail