It may not seem likely as we head toward Thursday’s eurozone summit but the European Union could be thanking Greece in a few years’ time. Granted, the mutual appreciation and back slapping seems a distant dream given the current angst over the debt crisis, with Italy becoming the latest euro country to run into trouble almost two years after Greece became the first member of the single currency area to hit a wall. Yet the crisis has made the European Union, and the eurozone countries in particular, re-examine their economic and monetary union. The euro area is experiencing a make-or-break moment and while there are some who fear the consequences of the debt crisis are so wide and deep they will lead to the breakup of the single currency as we know it, there are plenty who believe, and are working on, this period of turbulence being the moment that really makes the euro.
“What we’re witnessing is that the EU and the eurozone are at a turning point,” says Jens Bastian, a senior economic research fellow at the Athens-based think tank ELIAMEP (Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy). “The debt crisis is not only forcing the 17 eurozone members to pool their resources in an unprecedented manner but also to readjust economic sovereignty. That was unthinkable just a year ago.”