In December, the United States and China brushed aside the E.U.’s soft power approach at the world climate conference in Copenhagen, leaving Europe with the appearance of a second-tier player on a matter where it achingly wanted to shine.Which looks like a harsh but fair appraisal.
A little later last month, the European Commission warned that half of the 16 countries making up the E.U.’s common currency risked unsustainable debt and deficit levels. For the first time since its creation in 2000, the euro group’s fiscal responsibility seemed in question.
In spite of joblessness at an E.U.-worst of 19.3 percent, a negative rating on its sovereign debt, and a deficit close to 11 percent, Spain, no kidding, is supposed to provide impetus for a new 10-year E.U. growth strategy in time for an inaugural meeting in Valencia at the end of March.Ouch.
It is a follow-up to the Lisbon Agenda of 2000, meant to make the E.U. economy “the most competitive and dynamic” in the world, but officially described since as “a synonym for missed objectives and failed promises.”
Against its record — no serious corrective action in two years of sharp economic decline and marginalization as a foreign affairs player under Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s Socialist government — how will this Spain function with its eagerly assumed lion’s share of Europe’s management?
So far, there are indications of incoherence.