World Views
12:44 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Why Debt-Weary Europe Should Watch Out For A Political Crisis

A demonstrator holds a sign protesting Ireland's continued bank debt - Feb. 9, 2013
Credit William Murphy / Flickr

Slow growth is plaguing many European countries as they struggle to cut their spending and debts. France's GDP has fallen for two consecutive quarters, and Greece's international lenders say unemployment will remain above 20 percent for another three years.

Mitchell Smith, the Chair of OU's Department of International and Area Studies and the Director of the European Union Center, says austerity has generated more than just economic tensions.

"I actually think the political problems a number of European countries are experiencing are even more worrisome than the economic problems," Smith says. "The eurozone countries have, at least for the time being, allayed some of the concerns of financial markets and they don't want to stir things up and start another run-up of a financial crisis."

Smith says domestic political obstacles across Europe have gotten in the way of advances that could resolve some of the issues.

"As difficult as times are in the United States, the conditions here are a picnic," Smith says. "American economic performance has been quite remarkable in light of the difficulties that Europe is experiencing."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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