Europe: Clear The Decks For Reform

A tumultuous week sets the stage for real economic reform

It was a week that rattled nerves in statehouses and executive suites all over Europe. On Mar. 11 in Bonn, Oskar Lafontaine, the powerful, left-leaning German Finance Minister who was the favorite bete noire of European business abruptly quit, retiring to his home in Saarbrucken and vowing to leave politics for good. Five days later, in the wee hours of the morning, all 20 members of the haughty European Commission in Brussels resigned in disgrace, leaving the European Union virtually ungoverned. In the background, two huge, unprecedented hostile takeover battles raged both in Rome and Paris.

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