Crisis meeting follows crisis meeting on resolving the debt debacle in Greece, but it seems solutions and even resolutions are hard to find.
Once again, European Union finance ministers converged on Brussels to debate how Greece might pull itself (or be pulled) out of the present pit of debt and dwindling credibility and, once again, they did no more than postpone real decisions.
Greece is being granted another grace period -- if "grace" is the right phrase in this context -- of 30 days to convince its fellow EU members (and presumably the all-important markets) that it will get its finances back on track.
Another 30 days to stand up and deliver, or else.
Or else what? That seems to be the big question. The threat of "sanctions" has for the first time wafted through the EU corridors as EU finance ministers expressed their concern that present Greek austerity plans might not be enough to put the country back on level footing and at least close to anything that resembles the criteria of the Maastricht Stability Pact.
"This is quite an urgent situation," Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said. "What we have seen so far is not enough. We need more steps when it comes to taxes and ... expenditure, if they want to build credibility in the market."
But just tightening the thumb screws more and more on Greece is not without its dangers. Already the Greek government is facing growing rumblings of social unrest at home, with protest and strikes gathering momentum. And the last thing either the EU or indeed bedraggled Greece need now is a government crisis on top of the more-than-alarming debt crisis.
Who Do the Markets Believe?
Ultimately, it all boils down to the credibility issue.
With - as Borg called it - "basically fraudulent" accounting, Greece lost its credibility in the markets and with its EU partners. And that might be far more difficult to restore than its finances. What Greece needs most it what it seems nobody is giving her now: time and faith.