The ECB has saved Europe - or, perhaps, not
by our secret columnist in Brussels
The commentators liked the European Central Bank's unlimited bond-buying plan almost as much as the markets, but there will be further trouble to come. We are not out of the crisis just yet, warns our resident satirist Schadenfreude
Is this now it? Unsecured, unlimited, non-preference European Central Bank loans provided the recipient government formally asks for aid and accepts an austerity programme? An agonising choice for Spain with its chronic double digit unemployment rate and its autonomous provinces on whom the austerity would have to be imposed – at the cost of new demands for full independence. And bad news for Greece, making it unlikely that the upcoming Troika report will offer much of the easement which the embattled coalition has been seeking.
Maybe at least the demand for a six-day working week will be withdrawn as a conciliating gesture. The Greeks have statistics – don't they just – which show that Greeks work longer hours than other Europeans. There is still a spanner a or two, which might be thrown in the works, such as continuing uncertainty over whether the German Constitutional Court will find that Germany can properly contribute – in other words fund - the European Stability Mechanism. The German Government itself remains noisily opposed to the plan and might take its opposition as far as challenging the ECB with inconsistency with the Lisbon Treaty.
The relevant protocol prohibits the ECB from buying the "debt instruments" of central governments (Article 21.1 on "Operations with Public Entities). And the financial world has yet to learn what the European Commission thinks was intended by the decision to establish a "banking union". Still, the markets in Europe and more widely liked it - and it may be given a fair chance. Another 'crunch' meeting will try to wish away any awkwardness. One wonders when it will dawn on the deep thinkers in Berlin that Germany cannot sell things to customers who have no money to buy.
Mersch appointment to ECB hits new snag
Spain has formally opposed the appointment of Yves Mersch to the European Central Bank's executive board in the latest twist to a saga that has caused a row over gender equality and the democratic legitimacy of eurozone decision-making