There is a Greek drama unfolding in Cannes, France, today, as members of the G20 — led by the Franco-German alliance they call Merkozy — wrap up another tense week in this latest battle to save the euro zone.
The European Union is an economic and political institution forged over decades, sealed with a treaty in 1993 but only, truly made real in 2002, when most of the current member states dropped their currency in favor of the common euro. For centuries a breeding ground for war and imperialism, Western Europe had bound itself together in peace and apparent prosperity, with a supranational government all its own to be quartered in Brussels.
Its anthem: “Ode to Joy.”
Things have changed. While most major banks remain multinational (with interests around the world) their errors — some would say crimes — have brought renewed focus on the sovereign state. Today, with Greece on the edge of default, the euro zone nations have a new catchphrase: “Exposure.” As in, how much “exposure” do our banks have to the bad debt held by yours.
It’s enough to make one’s head take an “Exorcist”-style lap around the neck. But here, below, is a simple guide to this latest and most important chapter in the crisis. The results in Greece will likely determine, and certainly predict, the fate of the European Union. This is the least you should know.