Why Europe Is Grounded

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TIME is absolutely right in asking why Europe can't get off the ground [July 12]. The short answer is, It's the euro, stupid. The concept of a one-size-fits-all common currency to be shared by such diverse countries requires some form of fiscal federalism to which all member states would be opposed. Either the euro countries restructure their banking sectors or the peripheral Mediterranean member states dump the euro while the northern core countries go it alone. Deficit reduction is necessary, but growth should also be stimulated to reduce the biggest risk of all: high unemployment. The latter is a time bomb that, unless defused, could blow the European Union out of the water.

The European Union will never realize its full potential as a political and economic bloc as long as member states fail to look beyond their own parochial interests. Europe's inability to harmonize fiscal policies and labor laws highlights the problem of valuing local allegiances over the Union. Beyond economics, countries elsewhere should think twice about the wisdom of joining regional blocs. The E.U. experience seems to indicate they are rocky propositions at best.

Your story on Europe's economic crisis was much appreciated, and you are right to point out that the continent faces enormous challenges. But you fail to assess the political progress that has been made in the past two years of crisis. The Lisbon Treaty is a humble but still important step in the process of European integration. With a democratically elected Parliament that now shares decisionmaking power with the Council, and the establishment of a European External Action Service, the E.U. is giving itself the means to achieve greater goals. European integration is a long-term project.
David Lamoureux, BRUSSELS

Spying at Home
Re "The Case for Keeping Out," about the technology parents can use to spy on their kids [July 12]: I read Nancy Gibbs' wonderful article with a knowing smile and a delight that someone has such a down-to-earth attitude toward keeping children safe in this era of easy access to the Internet and mobile phones. I too have two daughters who are the joy of my life and a constant challenge now that they have hit their teenage years. Thank you for reassuring me that I am on the right track with my children.
Anna O'Doherty, LUCAN, IRELAND

Crossing the Strait
Re "The Moment" [July 12]: The brief comment on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed by Taiwan and mainland China in June seems to be based on the mistaken perception of a similarity between Taiwan and Hong Kong. This is profoundly misleading. Taiwan is not Hong Kong and will never be like Hong Kong. Taiwan is a full democracy where the popularly elected government is accountable to its voters. This means that the ECFA has to be approved by the directly elected national legislature in Taiwan. TIME's analogy about the development of democracy in Taiwan and Hong Kong is flawed and utterly baseless. Taiwan's democracy is the hard-earned accomplishment of the people of Taiwan, not something Beijing has ever been in any position to promise or grant.
Johnny Chi-chen Chiang, Minister, Government Information Office, TAIPEI