Friday, December 16, 2011

Angiefying the European Union

Angela Merkel has an impressively disastrous record as German Chancellor. She has made herself the most powerful politician in Europe at the moment. She has a larger role in European leadership than any German Chancellor since, uh ... let's not go there.
Pack Hockenos looks at this phenomenon in The Merkelization of Europe Foreign Policy 12/09/2011. He opens with these memorable images:

No[t] so long ago, France was the political driver and Germany the economic motor of the European Union. "Now," remarked former European Commission president Romani Prodi in February, it is Merkel "that decides and Sarkozy that holds a press conference to explain her decisions." This searing image could be embellished with the 24 EU members cowering in the press room -- and Britain now watching through the window.
The article is especially good at describing the longer-range political dimensions, which often are neglecting in the economic analyses which are understandably being cranked out right now. But Hockenos does make clear what a disaster Merkelnomics is for the countries subjected to it:

Merkel's short-sighted, audaciously Germany-first reaction to staunch the eurocrisis is the Germanization of European monetary and fiscal policy, foremost the codification of its obsession with tight money, fiscal purity, and budgetary orthodoxy. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, she insists that what's good for Germany is good for everybody else, too. It's clearly not. And with the world's leaders begging her to do "whatever it takes" to stave off global calamity, she's doing it with Sarkozy at her side and over the heads of the now completely irrelevant European "voters" ("subjects" is the more fitting word). This is a catastrophic mistake, which, politically, vastly expands the EU's centralized authority while robbing it of even the fig leaf of democratic legitimacy it had sported. Moreover, the economics of Berlin's Germanocentric prescriptions for the eurozone compound the very problems that landed Europe's weaker economies in the mess they're in right now. [my emphasis]
The whole article is worth a read for anyone interested in understanding the mess in the EU right now.

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