Cannes is no stranger to the heat of lights and the constant snapping of cameras but this time, it was not the A-listers of the red carpet but the leaders of the G20; convening to discuss the reformation of the global economy.
The G20 summit is an opportunity for the leaders to rub shoulders and strike deals both officially or otherwise; but in true Cannes fashion, one issue is dominating the collective consciousness of delegates and observers alike - Greece.
After already being bailed out once, Greece was offered a second international package to the tune of €109 billion in July of this year. If Greece is unable to stabilise it's finances or meet the demands of other European leaders, there is talk of "financial firewalls to safe guard the Euro"
France's Nicolas Sarkozy publicly commended Silvio Berlusconi's decision to allow the IMF to monitor it's economic target in order to restore confidence in Europe's third largest economy; a feat not to be snuffed at, given the Italian Prime Minister's domestic struggle to remain in power. But as Sarkozy did not fail to mention, this "is something that Greece did not do". Hindsight is a wonderful thing but practically, Greece does not have an easy road to navigate.
Facing domestic upheaval, Mr. Papandreou has back tracked from a referendum on the bailout package and his resignation is seen by many as a condition to safeguarding the unity of the Greek government. As the political and economic situation appears more tenuous, Sarkozy has repeated many times that "We have to defend the currency". His battle cry has been backed by his announcement that France will publish a list of 29 Banks, whose dealings "need more transparency" and that 11 countries, known to be tax havens must be willing to aid the retrieval of lost revenue. Urging countries like Switzerland and Liechtenstein to honour their commitments or risk exclusion from the international community.
Does this mean Greece will be kicked out of the EU to save the currency?
Due to the EU treaty, no matter what Sarkozy or Osborne may feel, there is no legal vehicle that can be implemented to force Greece to leave the EU. Greece cannot leave the currency and start to print it's own again as it has delegated it's write to print currency to the European Union via Article 128 of the treaty. The only way for Greece to be able to avoid the terms of the bailout and print it's own currency would be for it to utilise Article 50 of the treaty in order to leave the EU in the hope that it can later apply to join at a later date - via Article 49.
However, this would put Greece in the same boat as Turkey is right now. Trying to court every single nation that is currently in the EU in order to be approved to join again.
So now Papandreou is stuck between accepting the crippling demands of the EU and IMF in order to guarantee the bailout - losing his political career in the process; or refuse the demands and risk economic pressure that would force Greece to utilise Article 50.
This whole affair is questioning the very essence of the capitalist model as the only model. as long the economically stronger countries continue to capitalise on it's weaker members and not chose to contribute more purely because they can, then Greece will fall. And, if this occurs, then Italy and Spain may soon follow. This would cause the Euro to slowly crumble and for the EU to reach the destination it was fearing on the path it has taken to avoid it. Maybe to save the Euro, we need to reassess our current interpretation of our model of Capitalism.
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