Alarm bells are going off across Europe as its leaders start waking up to the reality that the economic malaise that has been plaguing the continent may stick around longer than anyone in Brussels anticipated. The economic ministers of both France and Germany on Thursday called for a “New Deal” that would help stave off a lost decade of economic growth across the eurozone. This comes fresh on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by EC chief Jean-Claude Juncker of a $400 billion investment plan—underwritten by the EU but depending on private investment for the bulk of the money—to create jobs and get things moving.In the meantime, stories about european bond yields hitting record lows would seem like good news to those who remember when world financial markets trembled with fear at spiking bond interest rates for the Club Med countries. But the persistent falls, despite continuing worries about credit, don’t reflect confidence in the outlook for these countries’ economies. Rather, they reflect a mix of deflationary pressure across europe and the ECB’s firm commitment to keep interest rates low.Deflation is, to some degree, the goal of europe’s reform programs in the Club Med countries: since they can’t improve their competitiveness by letting their currencies fall (given that they have adopted the euro) they have to improve competitiveness by cuts in euro-denominated wages and prices. Still, with Germany also showing signs of slowing down, Europeans are starting to worry about getting more deflation than they wanted.For the last couple of years the European economy has been operating in an artificially calm atmosphere. That period is bound to come to an end sometime. With the U.S. Fed moving toward a tightening at home and with Chinese and Japanese growth decelerating, Europe’s external environment isn’t becoming any easier.It’s not clear whether the latest signs of concern among Europe’s political leaders represent a serious effort to jolt the eurozone economies back into motion, or whether they are talking about vague but large proposals as a way to stave off public discontent for a little bit longer. But readers need to bear in mind that the eurozone economy has been consistently unable to regain its footing after the crises of 2009-11. And a failing Europe is a disaster for the West as a whole.