MADRID – The start of any year invariably prompts stocktaking, and 2012 certainly offers much to consider: the dramatic events in the Middle East, leadership change in China, and the brinkmanship of America’s budget debate. All were high in importance, if not always in popular interest. That seems especially true of the painful and excruciatingly prolonged – indeed, still ongoing – process of saving the euro.
The euro’s survival in 2012 – if only by the skin of its teeth – confounded skeptics who forecast Greece’s exit from the eurozone and the single currency’s collapse by the end of the summer. Indeed, the European Union’s future still seems acutely uncertain, owing mainly to a mismatch between rhetoric and reality.