|The rudderless EU will share the fate of this formerly so proud ship.|
The European Union is more and more looking like a rudderless ship slowly sinking in an ocean of bad news:
With rampant unemployment spreading misery in southern Europe and companies shutting factories across the continent, workers around the European Union sought to unite in a string of strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday.
Most European governments have in recent years had to cut spending, pensions and benefits and raise taxes aggressively to bring public debt under control. That includes not only the most financially troubled governments, like Greece, but also the traditionally more stable ones, like France and Britain.
The result has been a dramatic drop in living standards in many nations that leaders have accepted as collateral for policies they claim are unavoidable. With no end in sight to the economic misery, workers were trying to take a stand on Wednesday.
Even Germany, the EU's überpaymaster, is showing serious signs of a beginning recession:
Fears that the eurozone debt crisis could propel Germany into recession grew on Tuesday after investor sentiment in the bloc's biggest economy dropped unexpectedly.
Jennifer McKeown, Senior European Economist at Capital Economics, said the index was “consistent with economic stagnation in Germany” but she expected Europe's powerhouse to contract.
“We think that the economy will slide back into recession next year as the peripheral debt crisis intensifies and business and consumer confidence weaken further,” she wrote in a research note.
Germany has generally fared better than the rest of the 17-nation eurozone during the three-year debt crisis, but analysts have warned that it cannot resist the turmoil indefinitely.
The latest version of the Ifo business confidence survey showed German firms were pessimistic about the outlook for Europe's economic powerhouse, as the index slumped to a two-and-a-half year low.
A fresh survey shows that the "captains" of the European ship are looking more and more like the infamous skipper of the Costa Concordia:
On a scale of one to 10 - with one being “bad” and 10 “good” - 53.6% of respondents gave the EU executive a mark of three. Furthermore, 23.1% ranked it at the bottom - one - midway through its four-year mandate.
Less than 1% gave the Commission a full 10.
President José Manuel Barroso and Vice President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton received the worst marks by far - 2.5 and two respectively.
The board of shipowners - the European Council - will no doubt continue to hold endless and useless crisis meetings. At some point they will finally have to face reality: Their shoddily designed vessel cannot be salvaged.
What is sad, is that the bill for the senseless rescue operations will be sent to the European taxpayers.