Angela’s Choice.

Angela's Ashes? Merkel decides the future of Europe.

Angela's Ashes? Merkel decides the future of Europe.

We can dress the whole Europe debate up in a ballerina’s dress and call it Mary if we like, but the reality is that the future of the European Union hinges on two things: 1) Will Germany save it, and 2) How will Germany come to its decision?

Somewhere in the Federal Chancellery there is a team working on two sets of numbers. The first is the cost to the German taxpayer of leapfrogging this crisis by supporting Eurobonds, quantative easing, and the political unification of the eurozone. The second number is the cost to Germany of a collapse of the eurozone, the baling out of German banks, and with it a rush to “temporary” tariffs and protectionism within the single market.  

There are other factors too, but this is really the heart of the matter. Talk of war in Europe is a bit silly, if only for the fact that the one thing Europeans hate more than cutting social spending is increasing defence spending. But a new Europe with a very powerful new Deutschmark pricing out German exports, coupled with populist politicians trying to keep out “unfair” competition from southern countries (and maybe Ireland) is not in Germany’s interest either.

Finally, and this is something that British and Irish audiences don’t quite understand, there is the political factor. Support for European unity runs far deeper in the political structures of most continental countries than we grasp. British eurosceptics constantly remark that the euro was a political project, as if that is a killer argument. It was. It was supposed to be, and whilst it is malfunctioning from bad design, the fact with European integration is that it has been the great success story of post-war Europe. Every week, ministers from powerful Germany to tiny Malta meet to discuss how we solve common European challenges. We don’t pretend that all are equal, but there is an equal respect and an equal right to be at the table where decisions are made. Without the EU, Germany could make decisions on her own, and we would be dragged along in her huge economic gravity field. But here’s the funny thing: Modern Germany does not like being put in that position. That’s the other factor we don’t get: Germany, whilst defending its own interests like every other country, would still rather be part of an agreed gang. That’s how German politics works (the Bundesrat nearly always ends up controlled by the opposition) and that’s how they’re most comfortable.

With Spain too big to save, we’re now in the endgame, and Chancellor Merkel has to make a decision which will shape Europe for the next fifty years. Effectively, she is going to be the mother of a European Federation, or she is going to let the post-war European settlement break up. Churchill or Chamberlain, FDR or Hoover. This is the league she is now in, and the decisions she makes will shape how children learn of her in 2062, either from her portrait on the wall, as a founder of the United States of Europe, or as a footnote explaining how Europe became a Chinese-owned economic backwater. It really is that important.

6 thoughts on “Angela’s Choice.

  1. Germany’s economy is massively dependent on exports to the rest of Europe. Many Germans remember this even if others don’t. An economic collapse in the Euro’s periphery will cost Germany jobs. The pressures on Merkel to shift are becoming very strong – she is isolated in Brussels and with no prospect of a centre-right coalition being elected next year and the CDU and FDP a long way short of a majority in the Bundesrat she needs to start dealing with the SPD on this issue, especially if she still hopes to be Chancellor after next September, given that her only hope of doing so is at the head of a grand coalition.

  2. Pingback: What You Can Get Away With (Nick Barlow's blog) » Blog Archive » Worth Reading 55: Later to be replaced by J2O

  3. Whilst I completely understand your need to cast the present nasty realities of Politics in Yurup (the realities you & your fellow federasts continue to attempt to ignore) as an episode of West Wing, it really won’t wash to cast Frau Merk as your saviour. Often depicted by the MSM as a boring, mousey and indecisive physicist obsessed by rules and the Euro ideal, in fact, she is none of these things. Her unusual and at times murky past suggests that she is driven by the ideal of technocratic power, has no firm belief in anything – apart from “good order” & obeying the rules (as long as she is making them) . There is however little evidence from her career history that she sees the rules as applying to her. There is also no evidence at all that she is either libertarian or democratic: and as such, therefore, she is the perfect Fuhrerine for the European Union.

    Kind regards

  4. Pingback: Project Europe is Angela Merkel’s to save, the writer says | a curious Yankee in Europe's court

  5. The question is whether this is really in Merkel’s hands.

    If I recall correctly, the main argument against Eurobonds that I have heard from the German government was that without a political union with common fiscal policies these would not make sense. So Merkel (and/or the people around her) may not be against Eurobonds – they just face a Union in which there is no agreement on a political union, which they seem to think is essential for (formally) unionising the debt.

    It’s difficult to deduce the essence of what is going on behind the scenes because there is quite a cacophony of voices these days. But I think that putting everything on Merkel’s shoulders is risky business, as a failure to solve this crisis is hardly reducible to the actions of a single women. Pretending it was makes it look as if there had been an easy solution – but if there was I am sure politicians like Merkel and others would have resorted to that solution already.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *