PARIS — Europe is truly a strange character. In Greek mythology, Europa was a princess kidnapped by a white bull whose breath smelled like Crocus flowers. In today's reality, it's a body threatening to cut off its own limbs.
Its left foot is considering stopping its own blood flow. Suffering from cramps for the past five years, it desperately wants relief. This is the "Grexit" scenario in which Greece could leave the single currency that irrigates the Eurozone countries because it can't refund its creditors and sufficiently reform itself.
Such a scenario became particularly credible at the end of May when International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde suggested for the first time that a Greek exit was a real possibility. Whatever the clever-witted minds might say, the Eurozone would become unstable if this happened.
As for the right foot, it's busy asking itself questions and could express itself in a disorderly manner during a general election set for the end of the year — even if it's not a question of an "Iberexit," or Spanish exit.
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Jean François de Troy's The Abduction of Europa (1716) — Source: Washington's National Gallery of Art
A little higher up, the right arm, which earlier decided not to depend on a financial heart based in Frankfurt (the European Central Bank), is poised to make an even more radical decision. It just voted into power the party that promised they could decide on an amputation of the right arm. This is the "Brexit" scenario, in which the United Kingdom would leave the European Union. That would pose a technical problem to the right hand — Ireland — which is very attached to the Union and the Eurozone. The limping Union would also become armless. While on the other side, the left arm — Poland — just elected a Eurosceptic president.
The message is clear: In Europe, centrifugal forces are now prevailing over centripetal forces. With Grexit and Brexit scenarios taking more shape every day, and with seemingly no one able to prevent them, Europe isn't just at risk of losing body parts: It risks leaving itself, the so-called "Europexit" scenario. It would become a ghost of the kind of progress, community and peace it has embodied for decades.
There is only one couple who could prevent this scenario, and it's an unlikely one: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande. But they are after all successors of couples that are just as unlikely (Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer; Giscard d'Estaing and Helmut Schmidt; Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl), who built the most innovative political construction in two centuries.
So maybe it's not forbidden to be Europtimistic.