Smokers To Rescue the World Again (As Usual) / The Euro Crisis Soap Opera in Juicy Gossipy Detail

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and chairman of the eurogroup of finance ministers, joined journalists outside the security cordon of the EU summit venue for a cigarette. He has been forbidden to smoke inside by Mr Van Rompuy. "I needed a break," he said. "I have no idea how long all this is going to take."

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

without a default, the Greek debt crisis alone could swallow the eurozone's entire €440 billion bailout fund - leaving nothing to spare to help the affected banks of Italy, Spain or France.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister turned IMF chief - and one of the few key players who appeared to be enjoying herself in her new headmistress-like role - issued a grim warning to her former European peers. The IMF would no longer be willing to pick up a third of the total bill for rescuing Greece, a contribution worth €73 billion, unless European banks were prepared to write off 50 per cent of Greek debt.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

Outside the security cordon on the other side of the road to the building's entrance on Avenue Livingstone, anarchist graffiti on a wall proclaimed in French: "After Greece, Belgium, the insurrection is coming."

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

According to insiders, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany's finance minister, could not resist taking an "I told you so" approach - he had been, after all, the first to call for an "orderly" default for Greece 18 months ago, at a time when the cost of such a move was less than one third of the price today. "Schaeuble is a man who does not mince his words, whose reputation for harshness and arrogance is well earned. He was, frankly, unbearable,"

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

Interpersonal relations between eurozone leaders have hit an all-time low, reflecting sharp disagreements between Germany and France over using the ECB to bailout the euro and presenting an additional obstacle to finding a "grand solution" to Europe's debt crisis.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

Nicolas Sarkozy's "two faced" personality has been cited as a major factor in his dysfunctional relationship with Angela Merkel.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

"She says she is on a diet and then helps herself to a second helping of cheese," the French president allegedly said after a dinner meeting with Mrs Merkel.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

This Ecofin meeting has been reduced to an academic seminar, an exercise with absolutely no purpose," complained one finance minister.

Eurozone summit - despair and backbiting in the corridors of power - Telegraph

And to cap it all, as The Sunday Telegraph can now reveal, Herman Van Rompuy, the EU president who is regarded by many as too close to Berlin, angered many countries when he made confidential proposals for the creation of a European finance ministry.

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