Monday 19 March 2018

James Downey: Leaders can talk the talk but Europe needs action

'TO KNOW is not enough. To intend is not enough. We must do it!" That was Jean-Claude Trichet, outgoing chief of the European Central Bank, quoting Goethe this week. I don't know how many Irish bankers have ever heard of Goethe, but anyone can identify the chief target of Trichet's injunction: the poet's latter-day compatriot Angela Merkel.

The leaders of the German and French governments, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank will meet in Frankfurt tomorrow. They know what needs to be done. They intend to do something. But will they do enough?

In the immediate term, "it" means expanding the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to a figure as yet undecided. Will it be €1trillion, or €2trn, or €3trn? Such figures are beyond any normal imagination, but the basic issue is really quite simple.

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