The near collapse of the Greek economy and the harsh austerity package forced on Athens by the European Union has led to increasing commentary in recent weeks on what the developments might mean for the “European project” – the one-time seemingly inevitable drive on the European continent for an “ever closer union” based on principles of economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU member states.
Far from a demonstration of cohesion and solidarity, as New York Times columnist Paul Krugmannoted in a July 12 op-ed, the lesson learned over the past few weeks is that “being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line.” In Krugman’s view, the fundamental economics are simple enough: “imposing harsh austerity without debt relief is a doomed policy no matter how willing the country is to accept suffering.”
Krugman is not alone in his bleak appraisal of the situation. In testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats on July 14 on the topic of “The European Union’s Future,” prominent American academic Stephen Walt said that the EU, despite its past achievements, now suffers from growing tensions and several self-inflicted wounds.
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