FRANKFURT – The euro crisis has already transformed the European Union from a voluntary association of equal states into a creditor-debtor relationship from which there is no easy escape. The creditors stand to lose large sums should a member state exit the monetary union, yet debtors are subjected to policies that deepen their depression, aggravate their debt burden, and perpetuate their subordinate position.
NEW YORK – Xenophobia and extremism are symptoms of societies in profound crisis. In 2012, the far-right Golden Dawn won 21 seats in Greece’s parliamentary election, the right-wing Jobbik gained ground in my native Hungary, and the National Front’s Marine Le Pen received strong backing in France’s presidential election.
Poverty is on the retreat. Despite the global economic downturn, the World Bank and UN reported this year that the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped in every region of the world for the first time since record keeping began.
Europe has been in a financial crisis since 2007. When the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers endangered the credit of financial institutions, private credit was replaced by the credit of the state, revealing an unrecognized flaw in the euro. By transferring their right to print money to the European Central Bank (ECB), member countries exposed themselves to the risk of default, like Third World countries heavily indebted in a foreign currency.
With the EU summit set to start on Thursday, pressure is on European leaders to find a way out of the euro crisis. Investor George Soros is pessimistic that a solution will be found and says time is extremely short. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he warns that Germany could develop into a hated, imperial power.