Fiscal policing in Europe

The Times editorializes about the austerity plan adopted at the E.U. summit:

The fiscal pact imposes substantial fines on any signatory nation whose deficit averages more than 0.5 percent of gross domestic product over a full economic cycle, a condition the United States would have had great trouble meeting over the past three decades. The summiteers also made ritual nods in the direction of more jobs and higher growth, without providing any new money to achieve this.

A leader wiser than Mrs. Merkel would build a stronger European Union by helping her neighbors grow their way out of debt, not squeeze them to the breaking point. A wise leader would also remind German voters that the prosperity of their own export-dependent economy requires sustained demand in neighboring countries.

Poor German leadership in this crisis has exacted an increasing economic and social price from Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium and France. The longer Germany insists on putting fiscal austerity ahead of growth, the more likely it becomes that Germany, too, will suffer economic pain.

Read: Making It Worse in Europe – NYTimes.com.