Europe's abysmal crisis management

Their signature mistake is to conflate three distinct tasks, each requiring action with different degrees of urgency. You know the saying, first things first? I’m told it’s useful in emergencies. You know, before clearing wreckage from the highway, get the injured out of the cars, that sort of idea.

The pile-up in the euro area may be complicated, but the right sequence for dealing with it isn’t. First, stem the crisis of confidence that is pushing otherwise solvent governments into insolvency. Second, make repairs to the fiscal and financial system so the chances of another crisis are reduced. Third, address the underlying causes of the euro area’s difficulties — namely, the single currency itself.

The EU leaders keep trying to link all three together, making it likely they will fail three times over.