Even the ‘Europeanists’ are nationalists


It is becoming clearer by the day that the economic crisis is moving gradually from Europe’s periphery to the center, gnawing away at the credibility of Germany’s economic behavior.

This column will leave it to analysts and experts with greater knowledge and experience of economic issues to venture estimates, forecasts and so on.

What is certain is that the undermining of credibility in the way that German giants behave on the international stage – like Siemens initially, then Volkswagen, followed by Deutsche Bank – has placed Germany under strict supervision. Not by European institutions, of course, but by the United States.

Without doubt, the USA is not an easy rival. But nor is the president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who yesterday did not succumb to the pressure of Dr Wolfgang Schaeuble in the Bundestag and is sticking to his policy of low interest rates.

The impression is growing that Germany is handling the euro in a way that serves its own economic priorities. But, mainly, it is domestic policies and party expedience that are beginning to have a negative effect on Europe’s course.

Throughout the West, national elections disorganize the economy’s course to a certain degree. Parties seeking power try to win voters by making unrealistic promises. Greece is a classic example of this exceptionally damaging practice.

The issue is that in Germany the pre-election period is very long, because apart from national elections we have elections in the states that make up the federation.

When the outcome is bad for the ruling coalition – as we saw recently – it is natural that policies which serve party interests will prevail, holding up necessary developments not only at the national but also at the European level.

Berlin, for example, insists that the International Monetary Fund must remain in the Greek program – even though the IMF demands an immediate reduction of the debt so as to make it viable. But because national elections will be held in Germany in a year, the necessary decision will have to be taken after 2017.

It is understood, of course, that the rise of the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) is frightening the German establishment, but the same is happening in France, Italy, Austria and elsewhere. With this logic, then, let us tear apart the so-called European “construct” and let each look to his own house.

Of course everyone wants to avoid such a possibility. It should not be overlooked, however, that the widespread skepticism that has taken on endemic proportions in Europe can be blamed also on the nationalism of the German “Europeanists.”