Friday, September 24, 2004

Brussels becomes Troy

It's one of those bits of news that sounds like a cure for insomnia ... Greece ... budget deficit statistics ... Stability and Growth Pact ... the euro. But it's nonetheless a startling reflection on the effectivess of European Union institutions, and thus perhaps part answer to the question of why the EU can look so dithery compared the US.

So if you can stay awake, here's the situation: to join the european single currency, aspiring countries had to stay below certain thresholds for annual government borrowing and total debt. And once in the currency union, as 12 countries are, the same thresholds apply on pain of financial penalties.

But it was revealed this week that the Greek government was cooking the numbers to avoid the financial penalties, and probably cooked them sufficiently that they should not have been admitted to the euro currency union in the first place.

It's a clear sign of the decline of classics education that we have searched through many news stories, and can find no references or word play on Greek mythology -- not a single "Beware Greeks bearing statistics." And yet how could one resist in the face of lines like this:

"The decision to admit Greece was based on the best information available at the time," said Gerassimos Thomas, the [European] commission's spokesman for economic affairs. "That decision won't change."

We're sure that the Trojans would happily have accepted that the decision to admit that damned horse was based on the best information available at time time, too.

UPDATE [27 Sep]: One headline writer finally gets around to the obvious reference; in a Wall Street Journal Europe editorial (subs. req'd):

A Trojan Horse?

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