As the Eurozone crisis goes from bad to worse, the countries belonging to the region seem oblivious to one fundamental truth: they are all in the same boat. Ironically, the Eurozone is eminently capable of seeing itself out of the current crisis. Compared to the deficit and debt figures in Britain and the United States of America, the situation in the European Union is not beyond repair. What does seem irredeemable is the attitude of the individual nations. While Greece grovels in the pits of an economic disaster, with Spain and Italy gradually getting there, the countries that are better off, such as Germany and France, are delaying vital decisions. After weeks of uncertainty, meetings and repeated warnings from the US, European leaders are far from reaching a consensus on a comprehensive economic solution to what amounts to a grave collective problem. Each country wishes to reduce its liabilities for the debts of others and will not let others interfere in national policies. As each nation wonders whether to help its neighbours or to save its own skin, the ideal of a unified EU grows dimmer.
The key to any solution to the crisis lies with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France. However, not much is to be expected from the supremely cautious Ms Merkel, who usually likes putting off decisions when faced with difficult challenges. The French president, on the other hand, is more adventurous and much less bothered about public reaction to unpopular policies. But it will not be easy for him to make any decisive impact on the crisis unless Ms Merkel brings some substantial proposals to the table. As for the other countries, Finland, Slovakia and the Netherlands are being swayed by Eurosceptic parties, and tending to co-operate less and less. Evidently, the crisis will not be resolved without outside support — if only in the form of friendly advice. However, Europeans, so far, have reacted with suspicion, and even with some irritation, whenever the US has tried to offer its views and suggestions on the escalating trouble. Now the International Monetary Fund, under Christine Lagarde, has also started taking a tough stance on the Eurozone stalemate. Ms Lagarde has gone so far as to advise the recapitalization of European banks. It will cost Europe dearly in the near future if it chooses to ignore every offer of help from the rest of the world.