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The Euromess, Distilled

We’ve been tracking the slow-motion car crash that is the European Union for a while here at Via Meadia, and it gets to feel like we’re writing the same post over and over again. The buck-passing, the institutional paralysis and the general denial that anything is systemically wrong seems to be so ingrained in European politicians that their wrong-headed policy responses have become depressingly predictable.

The past week, two briefstories encapsulated the current state of play in Europe perfectly. The first, coming via Brad Plumer, was this collection of quotations:

The second, appearing in the New York Times late last week, starts off like this:

For most Europeans, almost nothing is more prized than their four to six weeks of guaranteed annual vacation leave. But it was not clear just how sacrosanct that time off was until Thursday, when Europe’s highest court ruled that workers who happened to get sick on vacation were legally entitled to take another vacation.

Nice work, if you can get it.

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  • Ed Snyder

    That quote list is an instant classic. Just posted it on my FB page. Good find, Mr. Mead!

  • Jim.

    What would happen to a German official, facing (re)election, if he or she were to boldly declare “We are all Greeks now”?

  • Michael

    The last sentence in the NY Times article summarizes the situation very nicely.

    “The ruling does not apply to the 25 percent of the Spanish labor force that is currently unemployed.”

  • vanderleun

    The great thing about reposting that is that, when giving the link citation, you can write “Via Via Media.”

  • david

    The article ends with this zinger: “The ruling does not apply to the 25 percent of the Spanish labor force that is currently unemployed.”

  • Eurydice

    Oh, how funny. And the high court ruling reminds me of the special subsidies Andreas Papandreou had instituted in Greece, which increased in craziness over time until everyone was special. There were so many subsidies for so many reasons that they finally instituted one for those who didn’t qualify for anything under any circumstance.

  • Kris

    Eurydice@6: Silly Greeks! The proper and sensible policy is to create a dense quiltwork of tax exemptions.


  • ddh

    “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

  • Robert Burnham

    I was in a hospital waiting room today, and picked up a copy of The Economist. I was well into the cover story on the Euro-mess, when I noticed a cartoon showing Papandreou as leader of Greece.

    Something twigged, and I flipped back to look at the cover date — June 18, 2011.

    So what are the odds that that story will remain at least 70% current, quotes from Euro leaders and all, as of a year from now?

    Any takers?

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