Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Odoacer Prize/Angie and Nick: Nice democratic EU you've got there; it'd be a shame if something happened to it

The city of Aachen, Germany, gives an annual Charlemagne Prize, which their website immodestly but accurately describes as "the most important and coveted award for services to European unification".

The prize's prestige may be permanently compromised, though, thanks to their 2008 recipient, German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

Angie, the female half of the "Merkozy" partnership, with her Charlemagne Prize medal
It would be more appropriate to create an Odoacer Prize, named after Flavius Odoacer (433[1]–493), whose conquest of Rome is traditionally considered to represent the final fall of the Western Roman Empire.

Flavius Odoacer
Its first recipients should be Angie and her partner in destruction of the euro and the European Union, Nicolas Sarkozy. Or maybe they should just set up a Merkozy Prize named after the two of them and award it every year a person distinguished for their services toward the destruction of a unified and democratic Europe.

Ken Maguire explains in European democracy falls victim to euro zone crisis Global Post 11/14/2011 how the Merkozy partnership, of which Angie is the obvious senior partner, is literally wrecking democracy in Europe now, the exact opposite of what the EU was founded and built to accomplish:

"We don’t have a real democracy here in Greece," said Stratos Georgoulas, a sociologist at the University of the Aegean.

"People who believe Lucas Papademos is the best person to run the country are bankers, business people in the capital, and the media," he said. "He's not a politician. He’s a banker. He’s not one of us."

The developments in Greece and Italy highlight concerns in some capitals that the European Union disregards the will of the people — especially as the euro zone crisis has worsened.

Observers including Trevor Evans, an economics professor at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, say a small group of power brokers are calling the shots.

"It's a shift toward an undemocratic, authoritarian way of making decisions in Europe on economic policy," Evans said. [my emphasis]
That's even putting it mildly in the cases of Greece and Italy, where the Frankfurt Group, the coalition of the EU and other official agencies acting as the agents of the European banking lobby, blocked a referendum in Greece and forced the replacement of the prime minister of Italy and Greece and essentially dictated the installation of new governments of "technocrats," which in both cases is a euphemism for debt-collectors.

Siobhan Dowling, also reporting for the Global Post, asks Is a German 'Fourth Reich' emerging? 11/15/2011, opening with this memorable anecdote:

It may have been a bad idea to send a German. And his name certainly didn't help matters.

When Horst Reichenbach arrived in Athens recently to head a new European Union task force to help the country deal with its debt, the Greek media instantly dubbed him "Third Reichenbach."

Cartoons appeared of him in Nazi uniform. A Greek tabloid showed a photo of his office with the headline: "The new Gestapo headquarters."
The perception that national German interests are driving Merkel's actions which are largely determining the demands of the Frankfurt Group on debtor countries:

With Italy now getting sucked into the debt spiral, Merkel has warned that deep structural reforms were needed quickly. “That will mean more Europe, not less Europe," she has said repeatedly, most recently on Monday at a meeting of her conservative Christian Democratic party. Likewise, party members reportedly want more power for Germany in the European Central Bank, by changing its voting system so that it is based on economic strength. Currently, each member country has one vote.

Here’s the rub: when the German leader calls for greater European power and influence, pretty much everyone interprets that to mean German power and influence. As the richest and largest country in the union, Germany’s influence vastly overshadows that of the Brussels-based eurocrats.

Indeed, when people have a beef about the EU, they no longer complain about Brussels. They complain about Berlin.
Despite the somewhat sensationalist title of the article, it gives a good description of the implications of the current crisis for the nature and purpose of the EU.

Ken Maguire also reports in Eurofight: France and Germany bicker over bailout Global Post 11/16/2011 that Merkel opposes not only the notion that the European Central Bank (ECB) act as a lender of last resort for eurozone sovereign debt - without which a near-term collapse of the euro is essentially unavoidable - but even a French proposal to have the ECB take that role indirectly throught the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). The latter would have the short-term advantage of not violating current EU laws restricting the ECB's direct actions in that regard.

Christoph Bertram discusses the disgraceful failure of Charlemagne Prize laureate Merkel in Das Versagen der deutschen EU-Politik Die Zeit 16.11.2011, coming to similar conclusions as those reported in Dowling's article.

Langsam und nagend wird das bisher Undenkbare denkbar: der Zerfall der Europäischen Union, die Rückkehr zum Europa der Nationalstaaten, zum Machtverlust aller und zum Ankerverlust für Deutschland. Und wenn das Denkbare eintreten sollte, wird für Deutschland nicht nur der Schaden immens sein. Es wird auch beim Scherbengericht der Geschichte als der Hauptschuldige dastehen. ...

Diese Bundesregierung hat vom Anbeginn der Krise immer nur national, nicht aber europäisch gedacht. Ihre Sorge war stets in erster Linie, Gefahren vom deutschen Wohlstand abzuwehren, nicht vom Wohlergehen Europas. Das Gold der Bundesbank lag ihr mehr am Herzen als die Zukunft der EU. Die viel größere und jetzt nahende Gefahr, dass mit einem Zerfall der Europäischen Union auch das Fundament deutscher Staatsräson zerbröseln könnte, wollte kaum jemand in Berlin wahrhaben.

[Slowly and fretfully, the previously unthinkable is becoming thinkable: the collapse of the European Union, the return to Europe of the national states, to the loss of power for all and to the loss of an anchor for Germany. And if the thinkable should come to pass, for Germany not only will the damage be immense. It will also stand as the chief culprit in the ostracism of history.

This federal government {Merkel's} has though in national terms from the very beginning of the crisis, but not in European terms. Its first priority concern was constantly to protect German prosperity, not the well-being of Europe. The gold of the Bundesbank {Germany's central bank} lay much closer to its heart than the future of the EU. The much greater and now approaching danger that with a collapse of the European Union the fundament of German Staatsräson {reason of state, i.e. justification of the state} could also crumble, hardly anyone in Berlin wanted to face.]
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