A Big Day For Europe
Tomorrow, Wednesday February 11, will be a big day for Europe and the European Union. Two fundamental issues, which have been taking up headlines for months/years will now be coming to a head, on the same day: a summit to tackle the fighting in Ukraine and a Eurogroup meeting to discuss some drastic changes requested by the Greek government in response to austerity measures. The results of tomorrow’s meetings could change European history, but only time will tell how.
To start, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia are meeting in Minsk to try to work out a peace deal. This is a last ditch effort to find some resolution in the region. If a peace agreement cannot be made, Russia will face another round of EU economic sanctions. Additionally, under pressure from Congress, US President Barack Obama has stated that deploying lethal aid to Ukraine has not been ruled out (one of our writers disagrees with this strategy here) This has led to separatist forces desperately trying to make gains prior to tomorrow’s meeting, while Ukraine struggles to adequately retaliate.
Ukraine is on the brink of full-out war and what happens after these negotiations could send the Eastern border into further frenzy, or finally allow rest and resolve for the region. Predictions are pessimistic, and even while claiming otherwise, Russia has continuously aided the separatist movement and would fight to include the separatists’ land gains as part of the cease-fire agreement.
Meanwhile, the sovereign debt crisis has returned to the forefront of the Eurozone’s radar, as Greece’s new anti-austerity government has run into serious opposition with the European Central Bank (ECB). During the Eurogroup meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, February 11th), Athens will be asking for an additional 10 billion euro bridging loan, a 1.5% government primary surplus (as opposed to the 3% currently planned), debt relief and more time to develop a plan due to Greece’s change in leadership.
Financers are requesting something much more permanent, and quickly, or they will no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral. Banks are causing the most immediate threat in the country, and have pulled an estimated €12 billion out of the country since early December. This action by the private sector may force the ECB to cut off all emergency funding to Greece, thereby forcing Greece out of the Eurozone.
Emily Young is a staff writer for Charged Affairs, focusing on issues in the European security and defense, and the European Union. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Texas A&M University, and is currently a defense consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton.