The euro, unlike any other major currency, is rooted in an arcane set of treaties and a spirit of European unity rather than a formal central leadership vested with the authority to manage. Europe’s failed attempts to resolve a debt crisis that is threatening the global economy, observers say, are exposing the pitfalls of that governance system, with competing national interests and highly diffused leadership making it nearly impossible for the region to take bold, fast and successful action…

With a storied constellation of cultures eager to retain their identities, Europe is unlikely to ever resemble a true United States of Europe with a single central government. But effectively acknowledging flaws in their system, European leaders agreed last week to take fresh steps to strengthen central governance, with the first draft of a plan due next month…

Van Rompuy is now being tasked with drafting a blueprint for bolder steps by Europe, including creating a “financial czar” position whose holder could compel profligate European nations to change their ways.

But just how deeply and quickly Europe integrates is still largely up to Germany and France, which have sharply different visions.