Europe: A pause in the crisis
After long months of turbulence in Europe there is a pause. The euro is no longer under daily attack. The massive bail-outs and loan guarantees have bought time.
The crisis, when Europe nearly saw the sinking of its currency, has left the EU uncertain, wounded and divided.
There are signs that belatedly leaders are understanding that the core of Europe's problem is debt and low growth. Quite simply most European countries are living beyond their means. The reckoning has arrived.
The new realism can be seen in the way that Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain reversed his position on cuts. Civil servants are to see their wages reduced by 5%. A subsidy for new parents - a so-called "baby cheque" worth 2,500 euros (£2,135) - has been scrapped. Portugal, too, is increasing wages and cutting wages. France has announced a freeze in government spending and will almost certainly have to do more. Germany has backed off a second instalment of tax cuts.
Here lies the challenge. Big cuts will be demanded in Europe's welfare state. The era of austerity will challenge and threaten Europe's social model. Protesters in Greece have gone to the streets. Protests are now being planned in Spain for early June to oppose what the unions call "unjust" measures. Europeans will be called on to work harder, to face the fact that they are competing globally. None of Europe's leaders are yet spelling out the cultural revolution that is to come.
The pain can be diluted, but only by growth. There are signs that growth in Europe is picking up, but it is not strong enough to reduce deficits and to finance a way of life that people have become accustomed to. There is also a risk that as Europe cuts it diminishes growth and falls into a vicious spiral.
Some European officials see very clearly that the priority for Europe will have to be growth, jobs, reducing deficits.
Within the EU there is tension, and at its heart is the role of Germany. The Germans never wanted to join the euro if it meant it would have to bankroll the weaker countries. That is what has happened. For Germany the single currency has become not so much a monetary union but a transfer union. It raises the unresolved question of the great divide in economic cultures between the North and southern Europe. In the long term that cannot be resolved by Germany bailing out the rest.
In the past the engine for decision-making was the Franco-German alliance. It drove the EU forwards. That can no longer be taken for granted. President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel have clashed too often. There is a report in the Spanish paper El Pais, sourced to the Spanish prime minister, that President Sarkozy threatened to pull France out of the euro if Germany wouldn't help Greece.
So to the future. The push is on to co-ordinate tax regimes more closely. Some want to go further with economic integration or economic government. Tensions will resurface. If the changes are far-reaching Germany will want treaty changes. That will open up arguments that have scarcely subsided since the Lisbon Treaty was ratified.
Lying behind this is an old argument. When do Europe's people get a voice as to whether they want their national budgets scrutinised by the EU before their national parliaments? Potentially there could be the most significant expansion in economic governance since 1999.
An American observer, Richard Haass - and president of the Council on Foreign Relations - noted that the EU was unloved. "A united Europe no longer captures the imagination of many of its residents," he said.
In the past few months, apart from in France, I have discovered a begrudging acceptance of the EU, but little enthusiasm.
What will play out is a struggle between "integrationists", who see the answers in greater integration, and others who care less for the dream or institutional changes and more for delivering on jobs and growth.
For the moment the turbulence has subsided, but it is only a pause.
And I am taking a few days off, so will fall silent for a week.