After weeks of discord, Europe's leaders have agreed to an emergency facility for Greece backed by the International Monetary Fund and bilateral loans from eurozone states. The accord was vague on figures and aid can be invoked only as a "last resort" if Greece is shut out of the capital markets. Since Greece is already paying an untenable debt premium, the wording once again leaves it unclear what exactly has been settled.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch premier, leaders of the two key creditor states, imposed their demand that the IMF must be central to any rescue.
The accord masks a bitter struggle between Germany and a French-led bloc over the future shape of Europe. For all the rhetoric, Berlin has refused to cross the Rubicon towards an EU fiscal union, shattering long-held assumptions about the inevitable march of the EU project. By bringing in the IMF, it ensures that each sovereign state remains responsible for its own debts.
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