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European Crisis: Five More Years

Memo to investors: the Euro crisis is nowhere close to being over. That’s at least Angela Merkel’s take on things:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe’s sovereign debt crisis will last at least five more years.

Merkel says the continent is on the right path to overcome the crisis but “whoever thinks this can be fixed in one or two years is wrong.”

A vote of confidence for austerity, then, from Ms. Merkel. She went on to say that the time had come for “a little strictness” in order to ensure that Europe would be an attractive place for foreign investment in the future. And fair enough. Many European countries have certainly been living outside their means, and financing those countries profligate ways without pushback is not the recipe for a successful future Europe.

Nevertheless, Via Meadia wonders, what will be the contours of the Europe left standing after five more years of financial and economic crisis? Will all the countries in the euro club remain? Will they all still be democratic? Countries like Ukraine, Serbia and Turkey who once seemed to be riveted on the prospect of EU membership are now thinking other thoughts; what will Europe’s periphery look like after five more years of introspection and conflict within the bloc? Will the UK still be part of the EU? How will the EU countries deal with what is looking increasingly like an Islamist aftermath to the Arab Spring? What will happen to relations between Europe’s immigrants and its ‘native’ peoples if we have five more years of economic adjustment and austerity ahead?

The EU doesn’t really have the luxury to spend another five years navel-gazing and procrastinating, but Chancellor Merkel seems to think that is exactly what Europe is planning to do. Let’s hope she’s wrong; the world needs an active, healthy, growing and outward looking Europe.

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