The European Commission has just inaugurated the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which is basically a large pot of money meant for keeping struggling Eurozone members afloat in tricky times. The President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was speaking at a maritime conference, so he decided to use a fitting metaphor to describe the ESM. Here’s what he said:
“So, since we are in a maritime conference, if I may use a metaphor – we have been building the lifeboats during the storm in the Euro area and it is not easy to build the lifeboats during the storm, but we are making progress and I am fully confident that our member states, after what are always very lengthy negotiations, will keep this momentum so that we can show our common determination facing the challenges and difficulties that we know still exist.”
Apart from the fact that this is an enormously long sentence, there’s a glaring flaw. Lifeboats are normally ready before a storm. And then they’re deployed only when the ship is sinking because the storm has damaged it. If you’re building lifeboats during the storm, the ship is going to sink and everyone on it will drown. Not exactly encouraging for Eurozone members.
Perhaps a more appropriate naval metaphor would be one I used in the first paragraph, keeping countries afloat by repairing them, bailing them out etc. Or something about the ESM being a strong anchor for the Eurozone ship in rough seas. I’d love to hear your thoughts on maritime metaphors for the Eurozone crisis.