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European Debt Crisis

What’s Up Europe? Smiles in Brussels

Sarah Gardner Sep 11, 2012
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A German high court will rule on the eurozone bailout fund tomorrow. Specifically, whether the plan violates the country’s constitution. If those bailout underpinnings are struck down, the European Central Bank’s huge new bond-buying program will be in trouble. You know, the one aimed at saving the euro and stemming the debt crisis.

But that seems unlikely. In the meantime, politicians and journalists in Brussels are breathing a sigh of relief over the additional ECB funds. Officials and European observers hope it’s not too little, too late.

“The ECB is buying time,” says Matina Stevis, who covers European Union economics for Dow Jones. “Will the eurozone and the troubled countries be able to do what they have to do in that time that has been afforded to them?” 

Of course, no one has a clear answer for that yet. People in the most troubled country, Greece, were cautiously optimistic about the ECB plan. And the simple pleasures of summer are also a welcome distraction. But Greece’s dire economic problems remain, and have had a pronounced effect on its people.

“The country’s  in its fifth consecutive year of recession, and it’s really suffering in terms of unemployment — which is edging toward 24 percent,” says Stevis.

For young people that unemployment figure is closer to 50 percent. So despite the good food and sunshine, Stevis says “the pain is really felt on the ground.”

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