El País

Europe Must End This Macabre Game

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Spanish in the newspaper El País.

It’s been a heart-stopping two weeks. Thirty percent of the global economy can’t manage to stanch its bleeding, and Europe is feeling the economic crisis at its most savage.

That crisis, which started in the US – and which some naive souls thought would never reach their shores – became global, and its effects weren’t long in coming. Swift intervention by the international community kept the most dramatic effects at bay, at least initially; we mustn’t forget just how crucial those first two G20 meetings were. But the crisis gradually became concentrated in the developed countries and, for several years, emerging countries picked up the lion’s share of global growth.

Today, no one doubts that Europe – and the eurozone, in particular – has become the most pressing problem. All eyes are on us, and for good reason. The world’s largest economy – for that’s what the EU is, taken as a whole – has proven unable to manage itself in a manner consistent with its global responsibilities.

The weeks ahead are rife with uncertainty, with possible flash points in the Greek elections, the aftermath of the Spanish rescue (who was holding us captive?) and the possibility of Italian contagion. The upcoming G20 meeting will, no doubt, focus on Europe. And in late June, the European Council will have to close the cycle of tension and end this macabre game of decision-making paralysis in a timely manner: at this point, half-measures are acceptable to no one.

Meanwhile, Europeans are suffering and the rest of the world is silently watching the self-annihilation of a beautiful story: in the wake of war, a group of countries rolled up their sleeves and say “never again” to barbarity and “always, yes” to a visionary march towards the future. Now, that group of countries may become the instrument of its own undoing. No one deserves it.