Source: The Economist: Charlemagne
The host of the EU’s 60th anniversary party is the country most likely to bring it down
THE European Union may be a Franco-German construction, but when the project needs a dose of grandiosity it invariably turns to Italy. This weekend the leaders of 27 EU countries (all bar Britain) will convene in Rome’s glorious Palazzo dei Conservatori, beneath 17th-century frescoes and flanked by sculptures of sundry popes, to proclaim their unity—60 years after their forefathers signed the Treaty of Rome, the EU’s founding document, in the same room. In today’s fractious union the symbolism counts for something, even if the declaration the leaders will issue is crushingly bland. Yet there will be a note of irony to the proceedings, for if you ask officials in Brussels or Berlin which country keeps them up at night, the answer is always the same: Italy.
Very little changes here, sighs a local who emigrated as a child and recently returned to Rome. Sadly, that includes the size of the economy. The European Commission forecasts Italian growth at 0.9% this year, the slowest in the euro zone. Since 2008 Italy has been in recession as often as not. Real income per head is lower than when Italy joined the euro in 1999, and could soon be overtaken by zippy Spain. Youth unemployment stands at 38%, and the employment rate is among the lowest in the OECD. No wonder barely half the population of this traditionally pro-European country think the euro was a good idea. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »