Is Europe loosening up austerity’s iron clasp?

Suppose that I were to demand of you that, by the end of August, you should be able to run the 100m sprint in less than 10’’. Suppose further that, to give you a firm incentive to lift your ‘game’, I whip you continually. Alas, August is approaching and your performance in fact declines, as the whipping has drained your body and spirit; in addition to the soul destroying common secret that you never really stood a chance of running 100m in less than 10’’. So, faced with this grim reality-check, I announce a new timeframe: While I am not reducing the frequency or severity of my whipping, I give you more time to achieve the impossible task. You now have until the end of… December to reach your ‘target’!

  • Question: Have I loosened up my grip over you? Am I showing flexibility in view of your continued subjugation to my will?
  • Answer: Of course not. All that happened is that I have extended into the future my maddened misanthropy, making a virtue out of my abject policy failure.

The above metaphor may be pointed yet it is by no means unhelpful in grasping the EU’s latest announcement that Italy, France, Spain and the Netherlands will be given more time to achieve the deficit reduction targets by the same self-defeating austerian terms.