December 8th, 2011
02:39 PM GMT
(CNN) – It has taken more than 10 years but Project Euro is finally moving to its decision-making moment.
The core issue is how far the members of the eurozone are prepared now to move towards fiscal and economic union? How much budgetary sovereignty will they hand over to Brussels? Will they accept fines, sanctions, oversight and authority from the eurocrats?
For German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy this is crunch time. They want this done by treaty change so that countries have to make a decision.
European Commission President Herman Van Rompuy's suggestion that the necessary changes could be introduced using an administrative protocol has been rejected (rightly in my view). Whatever happens needs to be clear beyond doubt. Europe has fudged and blustered for too long.
The biggest thorn at this meeting will be how far the non-euro countries (especially the UK) are prepared to agree full treaty changes. If the 17 in the euro are forced to do a side deal shutting out the rest, then a “them-and-us Europe” will have arrived. It won't be a happy time for anyone.
In Europe there is always a fudge to be made, a deal to be done, a can to be kicked, some smoke to be blown. That would be a terrible mistake this time. To their credit, Merkel and Sarkozy have been clear - back the plan or face catastrophe. It is a simple as that.
The unfortunate point, often overlooked, is that the eurozone countries really have little choice. The euro doesn't work as currently constituted (it never has). They either change it or the project will collapse.
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