Friday, December 02, 2011

Just do what you're told, Werner, and I won't have to remind you again what "Anschluss" means

Austria's Social Democratic Chancellor Werner Faymann went to Berlin today to kiss conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ring.

Chancellors meet: Austria's Werner Faymann and Germany's Angela Merkel

If Faymann plans to offer even the slightest resistance to Merkel's determination to destroy the euro and the European Union by continuing with her already-disastrous of insisting that austerity economics is the solution to everything, it was scarcely apparent from this report, Kein Paukenschlag zur Lösung.Merkel stimmt auf langes Euro-Leiden ein Der Standard 02.12.2011.

Faymann agreed with Angie's demand that the EU treaties to be changed, and apparently is fine with her vision of changing them only to impose automatic austerity implemented at the EU level (aka, by Germany), despite what national parliaments decide. The only hint of democratic resistance reported in that piece is that Faymann timidly suggested that if treaty changes require Austria to give up its sovereign authority over its national budget, well, geepers, we'd have to have a national referendum on that.

As former Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou found out a few weeks ago, Angie's not big on all this having the people vote business when it comes to following orders from Berlin. The plan that Berlin and Paris are floating is for the eurozone countries to write into their constitutions a debt limit and give Germany the EU to power to implement sanctions against any country violating Germany's the EU's idea of how well their budgets fit the German EU approach to achieving those limits.

Angie says that the plans won't violate the sovereign authority of eurozone countries, so no referendum will be needed in Austria. Come to think of it, the Austrian government has had some disagreement before with Germany over a referendum, back in 1938. Somewhat like Angie did with the Greek government this year, Germany blocked that referendum and forced a change in the Austrian government, though by more drastic means than those applied to Athens this year.

Of course, Angie's proposal very well does drastically impinge on the sovereignty of eurozone countries over their own budgets. As another Standard report on the plan, Sarkozy und Merkel kündigen Rettungsplan an 01.12.2011 puts it, "Faktisch bedeutet dies die Aufgabe nationaler Vetorechte in der Haushaltspolitik" ("In fact, that means the surrender of national veto rights in budget policy"), i.e., national governments will not have the final say over their own national budgets. That is not the current arrangement and for Angie or Faymann to claim otherwise is just blowing smoke.

I haven't seen it reported that Faymann publicly agreed or disagreed with that position of Angie's on the referendum issue. Since the proposals presumably won't be formally presented until next week's EU summit, diplomatic fudging is a bit easier than it will be in a week or so.

Schulterschluss statt Anschluss

As Standard reports, Vienna and Berlin are seeking a Schulterschluss (united position) on their position for next week's EU summit. Meaning that Faymann is expected to do what Angie tells him. I suppose Schulterschluss is preferable to Anschluss. If the duly elected government of Austria is content to make the demands of the finance lobby as interpreted by Angie their first priority in economic policy, Angie won't have to go to the trouble of installing overt governments of debt collectors for the big banks, as she did in Greece and Italy.

APA also makes the Schulterschluss position prominent in their report on Faymann's position in support of Angie's EU-destroying policies: Faymann und Merkel für Schulterschluss in Krise 02.12.2011.

Socialist Chancellor Faymann has already pushing a "debt-brake" (Schuldenbremse) amendment to the Austrian constitution to fix Austria's borrowing at a set level of GDP, a Herbert Hooverish idea based in ideas discredited in the Heinrich Brüning era. It copies a similar measure Germany has enacted for itself. Faymann justifies it by saying, "Wenn wir uns selber ernst nehmen, werden uns auch die anderen ernst nehmen" ("If we take ourselves seriously, we will also take others seriously"), meaning, uh, what? That Serious Leaders in Europe jump when Angie snaps her fingers? Good grief!

It sounds like Austria's SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) is almost in as bad a need for internal transformation as the Democratic Party in the US. Maybe Laura Rudas will make a risky career move and take on the challenge.

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