The long and short of the sorry situation is that having botched two bailouts so far, the EU seems destined to repeat the mistake a third time, unless it makes clear that there is a problem with certain countries and starts dealing with it, writes CNN anchor and London correspondent Richard Quest, in an exclusive column for domain-b
It was not supposed to be like this; once Greece had been bailed out, and European leaders put in place their ''shock and awe'' €740-billion package, further bailouts were not thought to be necessary.
Long winded statements extolled the virtue of the European Financial Stability Facility, the European Financial Mechanism and the IMF's helping hand. The huge package's very existence was supposed to cow the markets into submission.
Oh dear. If that was the plan it didn't work very well, did it? Instead of calm, we have Ireland about to get up to €90 billion and everyone wondering whether Portugal is next (with Spain also a potential candidate.)
As we move into the next stage of this crisis (yes, it is a crisis) no number of national political leaders telling us that ''their position is different'' makes a jot of difference anymore. We heard that from Greece. We heard that from Ireland. I, for one, am tired of hearing politicians say ''we don't need a bailout'' until the very last moment when the cry becomes ''send us the money.''
But whether the Europeans eventually have to bail out a few more countries, probably is neither here nor there. This is a cake that has been mixed and is baking. It will either explode in the oven and require cleaning up, or it won't.
Of much greater interest is the acceptance that European institutions were both unprepared and unsuited for this crisis. The Swedish finance minister Anders Borg told me on Quest Means Business '' given that we've seen a tsunami of financial uncertainty…I think it's obvious that we have not built enough strong institutions in Europe to deal with these kind of problems.''