G8 gathers with storm clouds over Europe

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G8 gathers with storm clouds over Europe

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As the G8 assembles in the remote Camp David setting in Maryland, far from the eyes of the world’s press, the world’s problems press in.

Top of the agenda will be the sharpening financial crisis in Europe, with Greece hanging onto eurozone membership by its fingertips.

In an election year, President Obama needs Europe to pull its economic weight lest revival stall at home. He finds new faces at the talks table compared to last year, and some may have ideas on growth that chime with his.

However the core problem is Europe’s to solve, and the key Franco-German relationship will be at the heart of any solution. New French President François Hollande has been elected on a promise of more growth, less austerity.

German leader Angela Merkel is herself under pressure from the SPD at home and may argue the money is simply not there; in this she may find an ally in Britain’s David Cameron, still wedded to an austerity-first policy at home.

While Greece will take up a large part of the economic talks and is almost on hourly watch for signs of panic, the other agenda-topper is Syria.

The UN says 14 months of civil unrest there are now estimated to have cost at least 10,000 lives, and the five-week truce is now seriously weakened after a series of bloody clashes and bombings.