For the past three years, the European Union has muddled through the eurozone crisis. It gets few plaudits for doing so, especially from its enemies. Muddling through is not cool. No politician runs for office by saying, "If elected I will try to muddle through," though in practice that is what they often do. Commentators, paid to pretend that the world is simpler than it really is, naturally abhor muddling. So far, however, muddling through has worked, after a fashion, as it often does. Things are bad, but in most European countries not disastrously so.
But ... there may still be mileage in muddling through. Do not underestimate this possibility. Muddling is nothing if not flexible, and in the last month the EU has broadened its repertoire of muddling by accepting that some form of growth strategy, as demanded by France and Italy (and indeed Britain), must now have greater priority in the European toolbox. Other adaptations will surely be made too. Many believe Germany will relax its hostility to eurobonds before the G20 convenes.
All of which may or may not be true, but carefully avoids the competitiveness issue. Mr Kettle goes on:
It needs repeating that crises of this kind are inherently difficult stuff, fraught with uncertainty. There are no maps, no pain-free fixes, no battle-ready alternative strategies with instant credibility. If anything, the reverse. No columnist or politician who pretends the solution is obvious – leave the euro, defend the euro, destroy the EU, federalise the euro, throw out this government, elect a different one – should be trusted. They don't know what will work. The bankers don't know what they are doing either. Apocalyptic depictions of the crisis and its possible outcomes make exciting copy but are almost a political cop-out. The question of what to do remains unanswered.Yes, well, I think we already knew that. But it doesn't take us much further, does it?