Friday, August 19, 2011

German lessons

Simon Heffer's piece in the Daily Mail on how "Germany is using the financial crisis to conquer Europe” has made the news in Germany, with Handelsblatt noting yesterday:
"Although the Second World War is over 66 years ago, Europe's fear for the Germans is older…at crucial turning points in European history, Europe's fear of a supposedly all-powerful people at its centre always flares up again"
The article goes on to quote Margaret Thatcher saying, "We've beaten the Germans twice. Now they're back!", a comment that Germany's former Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, claims she made to him in reference to Germany's reunification in 1989. The article alos makes a reference to a recent piece in Italian newspaper Libero featuring a cartoon of Angela Merkel looking like Adolf Hitler, in an SS costume, with the title "Heil Merkel".

To take issue with how important national economic decisions are now increasingly being taken by multilateral institutions controlled by bigger members, such as Germany, is one thing. However, to claim that anyone in Germany actually has an an interest in "colonising" other countries in any way just isn't correct.

Quite the contrary, Germany’s default position is to take a non-interventionist stance in regards to other countries. Just have a look at its approach to the Libyan and Afghanistan interventions. One of the reasons that Germany decided to abstain on the UN vote on Libya, is precisely because its public are hesitant about mixing in other countries’ affairs. The ongoing political fights about its intervention in Afghanistan also prove this.

The German government is desperately trying to find a solution to the eurozone crisis, stuck between their voters, the bundesbank, exporting industries, the economic elite, and the Constitutional Court. The country's position is far too complex to lend itself to stereotypes or a single explanation.

The German government still believes that the eurozone crisis is simply a matter of budget discipline - or rather lack thereof. As we've argued many times before, the eurozone crisis is fundamentally about the loss of competitiveness in the periphery and the the inevitable tensions created by having one monetary policy for a whole set of very different economies (though excessive spending and debt clearly is a key driving force as well). But the point here is that the Germans genuinely feel that replicating its rules-based model at the European level, is the best way to the get eurozone economies back on track. We may disagree with that but there's nothing sinister about it. And seriously, who can blame the Germans - who at the moment provide €120bn+ in loan guarantees in addition to underwriting a huge share of the wobbly ECB - for asking other countries to make a bit of an effort?

For all those who are still suspicious that Germany is secretly trying to take over Europe, it's worth taking a look at some privately-made comments by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, which featured on the front page of yesterday’s Financial Times Deutschland. He said that any member states that don’t implement the Franco-German plans "shouldn't be allowed to stop the rest" from doing so, adding that "there should be more differentiated cooperation", highlighting the possibility of a two-speed EU.

Incidentally, the idea that some countries could go-it-alone with others opting out, within a more flexible European framework, fits pretty well with British thinking on the EU. In fact, the Franco-German deal was inter-governmental rather than federal, sidelining the Commission in favour of Council President Herman Van Rompuy (increasingly emerging as a Franco-German vessel). An intergovernmental Europe broken up in smaller units, which on key issues operates outside the reach of the EU's centralising tripod (the European Parliament, European Court of Justice and European Commission) - isn't that sort of what the UK should be pushing for?

Just a thought.

4 comments:

Andrew Smith said...

I am not sure if you meant to say that President Herman Van Rompuy is increasingly emerging as a Franco-German vessel or did you mean "vassal".

It is not necessary to argue or guess whether Germany wants to colonise the rest of the EU to be concerned that policy choices and proposals now being made could result in that outcome. Whatever tha motivation it is not a satisfactory outcome, but what alternative anyone ever thought could result from Ever Closer Union is beyond me.

It was never going to be possible to create a new European people within the time interval between major economic or unexpected political or physical disaster.

Anonymous said...

"Quite the contrary, Germany’s default position is to take a non-interventionist stance in regards to other countries."

--Oh yea, what about this from Detsche Welle "Berlin under fire over 'secret' participation in NATO's Libya mission", don't be so naive!

ref: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15331653,00.html?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf


"But the point here is that the Germans genuinely feel that replicating its rules-based model at the European level, is the best way to the get eurozone economies back on track. We may disagree with that but there's nothing sinister about it."


--Sure, well that's because they will need the weaker economies to distort the new Reichsmark, to keep their exports competitive. Concentrating all the wealth in Germany while keeping the periphery country's poor and under their control, nice and socialist/communist.

Let's see how competitive Germany is with its own currency, let's see how long they last, no the Germans need Europe, but they also want it, under their jackboot. They're quite willing to 'buy up' countries and control them, keeping their freedoms on hold, oh yes, it's very sinister.


"He said that any member states that don’t implement the Franco-German plans "shouldn't be allowed to stop the rest" from doing so"


--A two speed EU will be the best Europe can hope for, but, like in America with their debt ceiling being raised, its only delaying the inevitable. The EU will break up, Germany will fall, so will France (that could be why the EU breaks apart) and we'll all go back to how we were, nice and normal. No super EU politics, no massive state, just good old fashion self respecting governments.


"Incidentally, the idea that some countries could go-it-alone with others opting out, within a more flexible European framework, fits pretty well with British thinking on the EU. In fact, the Franco-German deal was inter-governmental rather than federal, sidelining the Commission in favour of Council President Herman Van Rompuy (increasingly emerging as a Franco-German vessel). An intergovernmental Europe broken up in smaller units, which on key issues operates outside the reach of the EU's centralising tripod (the European Parliament, European Court of Justice and European Commission) - isn't that sort of what the UK should be pushing for?"


--Fool! This is just smoke and mirrors to keep countries in the fold, this will soon melt away to reveal the real face behind the mask of Europe, that of which does plan to federalise Europe with no democracy at the top. I mean, come on, there is NO democracy in unelected official at the heart (i.e. top) of Europe now, what's going to change, how the hell can this happen!

Especially as you vindicate (by not opposing) the idea of Rumpy being in charge - who the hell does he think he is, he IS NOTHING, nothing at all, certainly no representative of myself!

This is a ridiculous article!

Gia Jandieri said...

If Germany/Merkel has no political goal in the Greek bail-out it would not put so heavy burden on the shoulders of German taxpayers to save Greek stupid politicians, it would not fight "tax heavens" but reduce tax rates and spending.
gjandieri

Gia Jandieri said...

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.
David Hume

Now this is for good reasons of course to help Greeks but then after this becomes a custom there will be a need of deeper intervention.