Perfect storm for the EU; is Greece to blame?; addressing global poverty; stabilizing global markets

A roundup of global commentary for the March 14, 2016, weekly magazine.

Fotis Plegas G/Reuters
Migrants and refugees are seen aboard a Turkish fishing boat as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos, in this October 11, 2015 file photo. European Union leaders meet on March 7, 2016 to debate how to end the migrant crisis before a second summer of chaos, but they have already long known the available answers -- and why they have yet to add up to a solution.

The Straits Times / Singapore
Perfect storm for the European Union
“European leaders hoped that difficult winter weather conditions would give them some respite from the masses of refugees now besetting their continent.... But neither low winter temperatures nor the measures taken by some European Union governments aimed at discouraging new arrivals appeared to have made the slightest bit of difference...,” writes Jonathan Eyal. “The EU has survived many crises. Yet at no time since World War II has it faced such a ‘perfect storm’ of financial, political and humanitarian challenges, all rolled into one. And at no time in the past did the continent seem so determined to sleepwalk ... into a disaster.”

Financial Times / London
Fault lines in the European Union
“The [European Union] is at risk of four fractures...,” writes Wolfgang Münchau. “The first is a north-south break-up over refugees.... A second north-south faultline is the euro. Nothing has changed here. Echoes of the eurozone crisis linger and the Greek position remains unsustainable. The third is an east-west divide. Will the open societies of western Europe want to be tied into an ever-closer union with ... central or eastern Europe? Finally, there is Brexit.... A British vote to leave the EU may trigger referendums in Sweden or Denmark, adding further uncertainty.... After nearly 60 years of European integration, we are entering the age of disintegration. It will not necessarily lead to a formal break-up of the EU – this is extremely unlikely – but it will make the EU less effective.”

Kathimerini / Athens
Is Greece really to blame?
“We tend to lament the decline of the Greek political system, the destruction of the social fabric, and the eventual economic meltdown. There are many reasons for our condition, most important however is the decades-long failure of the Greek establishment to adapt to European standards. If the problems were exclusive to Greece, then one perhaps could blame them on our reactionary Greek character or our inept and irresponsible political elites...,” writes Costas Iordanidis. “More worrying at the moment, however, is the apparent breakdown in the European system at large.... That said, it would be a crime for anyone to even suggest that Greece has any hope of survival outside the European system. What needs to be understood, rather, is that a rebound cannot and will never be achieved without an overhaul of the European system.”

The Asahi Shimbun / Tokyo
Poverty must be addressed at the global level
“A growing number of global companies are moving beyond the principle of corporate social responsibility and regarding environmental considerations and efforts to amend social inequality as both imperatives and opportunities for their businesses...,” states an editorial. “To supplement and accelerate such changes in the private sector, governments have to play a vital role. In May, Japan will host this year’s summit of the Group of Seven leading powers. There is a long list of challenges world leaders have to address, including security threats posed by terrorism, refugee crises and volatile situations in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. Poverty, one factor behind all these challenges, is a topic the G-7 leaders should discuss.”

The Hindu / Chennai, India
G20 powers are a stabilizing force
“In an all-too-familiar replay, finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 countries meeting in Shanghai [for a weekend summit in February] drove home the complexities of formulating a collective response to the persisting global slowdown in growth, even as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reiterated its call for coordinated action at the multilateral level to contain risks to the real economies from market turbulence...,” states an editorial. “The political engagement from the G-20 in the wake of the 2008 global meltdown was immense. That resulted in the fiscal stimulus, the stabilisation of the banking sector and the injection of capital into international financial institutions. The rich and emerging economies should summon the resolve and the will to promote a more equitable international order.”

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