The dust has settled after the last European Council and it is time to conclude that while the results were mostly positive – the German reaction to the outcome of the summit was appalling. Judging on the mostly very hostile, not to say aggressive German press, one may come to the conclusion that most Germans would agree with the recent New York Times article arguing for a German euro exit. Browsing not only through the German press over the weekend, but, more importantly, through online reactions of German citizens to various articles, you could get the impression that Germany is heading towards a catastrophe.
Merkel was accused of having crossed multiple red lines of sacrosanct German positions. She not only faced criticism from some of her own party members, but also from Green opposition leader Jürgen Trittin and large parts of the SPD. Both urged her to explain and justify her u-turn. I must admit that I found this rather peculiar because the Greens and the SPD have been presenting themselves as the true European parties throughout the euro crisis, constantly criticising Merkel for doing “too little too late”. Moreover, both parties have consistently been arguing for eurobonds and more growth. It seems bizarre to critisise Merkel when she moves exactly in this direction.
If this were just a normal opposition game then it may be justifiable, but in the current context this is a dangerous thing to do. Merkel’s crisis management strategy of moving with invisible steps towards debt mutualization will not bear fruit if the gap widens between the chancellor doing the right things for Europe - and Germans thinking she is destroying the German constitution, robbing the German tax payer and betraying the countries overall national interest. Politics must be honest and here both, parties in power and opposition, carry responsibility. It is not the time to play with public opinion, but to make the case for ‘more Europe’.
Politicians need to be honest about the fact that ‘more Europe’ necessarily means less national sovereignty. It is also not fair to hide behind legal arguments and impossibilities. Not the federal court in Karlsruhe, but ultimately the German people should have the last word on how European Germany wants to be. The European destiny of Germany should be decided politically, and not by a court. Also, history should not be frozen into flawed treaties: German politicians ought to confess to the German people that the Maastricht treaty is legally flawed. It is therefore ridiculous to make now a ferocious legal argument against the ESM and the direct bank loans in order to preserve an unworkable “no-bail-out” clause at any price, but rather explain why Germany has now an interest in creating a banking union.
The call for a transfer of bank supervision from national regulators to the ECBis the most important decision of the EU Council. This measure corrects one of the most important flaws of monetary union, which had created a situation in which banks act transnational, but in case of difficulties, would be bailed out on a national basis. This is very good news and should be celebrated. It is a decisive step towards improving the system of euro governance and banking regulation – and it is in the German interest. Though the summit statement is vague in detail, one can hope that a transfer of supervision of all euro area banks to the ECB will be implemented. This would be a huge change, including an unavoidable loss of sovereignty.
The summit, however, did not go as far as establishing a ‘Bank Resolution Authority’ or a ‘European Deposit Insurance Fund’ – which would be useful steps but are impossible to achieve if the German public is already infuriated with last week’s outcomes. The egocentrism of the German press is unbelievable in this respect: Merkel de facto prevented a Spanish (and perhaps Italian) bankruptcy at a rather low cost. For all those who think that Germany cannot be a wealthy island of the happy few in the midst of a European mess, this was smart German crisis management rather than a defeat.
In conclusion, the summit results are a step in the right direction and it is decent progress in breaking the feedback loop between banks and sovereigns. It is rather disappointing that no agreement on a full banking union could be found, consisting of joint supervision, resolution authority and deposit insurance. Yet, there is nothing in the Council Conclusions that justifies the outcry of the German press. Europe needs more honesty. Germany cannot go around and talk about ‘more Europe’ and a political union (like foreign minister Westerwelle prominently did) without communicating it better when first steps towards more fiscal and political unity are taken. The resistance of public opinion at home is the disease of Merkel’s strategy.
In 1992, 80% of the German public were against the introduction of the euro, but we did it nevertheless. Now, we are in the process of a step-by-step strategy towards debt mutualisation but 70% of the German public are against it. I do not think this will work - and it’s dangerous to think that it could.
Perception is what matters most: Good European solutions should not be imposed onto Germans; good European solutions should simply be good solutions for Germany. Germany is needed for the solution of the crisis and nothing will be done without, let alone against Germany. If German politicians are too afraid to tell the truth – which is that more summits with ever more abandoning of sovereignty are about to come – then we may better stop talking about ‘more Europe’ and ‘political union’.
If we still pretend that we are serious about what we are heading for – an ambitious project of a political union with deeper fiscal integration - then I would argue that we’d better spend at least a part of the 120 billion pact for growth decided at this EU summit, for youth exchange and common language promotion programs. If we want to build a transnational democracy, this is what we will soon need most. Europe will need some sort of bilingualism with a common administrative language. And this will also come in handy for any future direct elections of a European president.
2nd July 2012 at 11:07pm
This honest debate is needed in every EU member state. Between politicians and citizens.
Germany has a big bag full of useful experiences in the financial support of a region that has to reshape it’s economical system. Let’s use that to prevent the EU from making the same mistakes twice.
Further the so called “Euro-crisis” or “debt-crisis” has different reasons and backgrounds. For the average well-thinking citizen it seems
useless to strive for a one-fits-all solution.
A big yes to youth exchange. Let’s take the traditional ‘Waltz’ as example: a period of roaming for young people in order to meet other cultures, techniques and to gain social experiences. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanderjahre#German_Waltz]. The EU Erasmus program for exchange of higher education students is a good starting point.
Last but not least should all high schools throughout the EU indeed teach at least one extra speaking language. But also one universal coding language, to strenghten the EU’s digital backbone and it’s economical future. Technologies will make it soon possible to translate political and governmental documents and discussions at an almost real-time speed in all EU memberstate languages simultaniously.
5th July 2012 at 08:07pm
I think the biggest problem is in your understanding of the human nature.
But converning the crisis, what did cause it in the first place? lol you are talking like as if the establishing of the euro and the crisis was a mistake or something, and now we have to correct it with the political union.
even puppet hans eichel said on german TV, that it was clear that the euro would fail, so the aim was to justify the united states of europe with the crisis of the euro. i tell you what is ridiculous: not the german press, but the argument, that banks like Golman Sachs(and all the politicians and bundeskanzlers under their control) did not know, that the euro system cannot hold together two countries like germany and greece in one currency.
that leads to the next question, why can’t germany be the happy island if the other european countries around germany fall apart? i mean yes, they can’t be the happy island, if the banking families let the outher european countries attack the german people.
See, its July in 2012, and still you are talking about “Merkel did this, Merkel did that”, and some kind of “democratic union”.
The exact same young people, you are talking about, already KNOW that there is no Angela Merkel, but Goldman Sachs. There is no Trittin, but Bilderberg.
So why would the young people decide in a “democratic” process to have the united states of europe run by GS and N&MRothschild;?
Of course, integration is good, speaking languages, exchanging students etc, thats all wonderful. And the young european people will always do that.
But why should they be forced, to do that? More importantly, where does the money come from for your “education programs”. where in the blue hell do you get this 120 billion euros from?
“governments have nothing, they can’t create anything. all they do is to steal from one group and give it to another.”
-> and thats exactly what todays youth does understand. they understand, that even the German government steals 75% of their hard earned money with Grenzabgabenlast(Einkommens und Mehrwrst.), but they don’t even get back 10% of their money.
the government takes the money of the people, and first gives it to the bureaucrats.
so you fail to explain to the young people e.g. in germany, why a european bureaucrat is better than a german bureaucrat, if the german bureaucrat robs them already.
the young people understand, that 10 people in the “commission” or in the ECB tower can’t possibly know better than themselves, what is better for them.
but the basic notion, why you will fail to achieve the united states of europe with the banking families and freemasons on top of it is, that all your ideas, everything you are tallking about is based on coercion, stealing and control.
and that basic point you fail to understand. thats why you don’t undertsand, what Peter Thiel is saying: “the future is more libertarian”.
you should better wake up to the human nature( nationalism/patriotism is part of human nature). if you cannot change the human mind through genetics or technology, you have to accept it!
with technological progress(nano etc.) and genetics, natioanlism and even todays humankind will come to an end eventually . but until that happens, your model of controlling the people will fail and many of you who are now demanding high treason against the peoples of europe will be held accountable for it.
16th March 2013 at 12:03am
The biggest problem for us Greeks is that we need to be more honest with ourselves because although we call all of our problems “Merkel”, the biggest problem is ourselves.. Thats the way our politicians got used to our parents (stealing , not paying taxes) and now a whole generation got raised and we dont care about our own Country, not to tell u that who ever has feelings of patriotism feels strange…
Hoping for a better future for us PIGS
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