Wednesday, January 25, 2012

EU: Angie's counteroffensive

Angie's been taking some flak for her austerity policies from high places. IMF Managing Director Cristine Lagarde came down hard on her in Berlin. The head of the World Bank, Robert Zeollick is also pressing her from a different point of view to take a more realistic view of the euro crisis in the context of the new European recession (Weltbank-Boss verlangt mehr Führung von Merkel Spiegel Online 25.01.2012) Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn made a surprisingly blunt set of criticisms of Angie's handling of the euro crisis. (Hans-Jürgen Schlamp, Luxemburgs Außenminister."Merkels Fiskalpakt wird nicht funktionieren" Spiegel Online 25.01.2012)

Asselborn called Angie's fiscal pact that next week's summit is supposed to agree on, a "waste of time and energy." He warned about nationalist tones in attacks on the EU. He didn't specifically mention Germany in this regard, but the remark plainly applies to the sneering tone Angie and taken and encouraged in talking about the moral failings of countries that have come under pressure from bond speculators.

Expressing concern about the declining public confidence in the EU, there wasn't much doubt about who he blames: "Es sind vor allem die Regierungen großer EU-Länder, die ihre eigenen Interessen oft radikal durchsetzen." ("It is above all the governments of the larger EU countries that often push through their own interests in a radical way.") He criticizes Angie for letting internal German politics play too big a role in her approach to the eurozone crisis. Britain, France, Angie: he's talking about you. He compares the current "Merkozy" German-French push for a fiscal pact done as a separate treaty from the EU as such to the creation of an "alliance of the willing", a reference to Bush's notorious bullying of European countries to support the Iraq War.

That's really cold in European terms, comparing Angie to Bush. But I actually think it's accurate in that Angie seems to have been impressed with Cheney's and Bush's approach to creating their Coalition of the Willing, aka, the Coalition of the Billing, since most of them got some kind of financial kickback benefit in return for their nominal participation.

Asselborn objects to the EU-minus-one treaty on basically technical legal grounds, rather than on the foolishness of its basic assumption that writing deficit and debt limits into national constitutions would somehow fix the current eurozone debt problem or new ones in the future. But he's clearly saying it's useless, which I'm sure bugs the Princess Angie von Merkel to hear.

Non-eurozone EU member Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is also grumbling about not being involved enough in the decision-making process and publicly expressed reservations about Poland's approval of the agreement. Some of this may be posturing before the summit. But Angie doesn't like people questioning her orders.

There's lots of pressure, especially from Italy but also from other places like Austria to boost the amount of funding to the eurozone emergency funds (EFSF and ESM)

Now Angie is doing a public relations offensive leading up to next Monday's EU summit, as Stefan Kornelius reports in Merkel will Europas Wirtschaft ankurbeln Süddeutsche Zeitung 25.01.2012.

She apparently sees the need to at least verbally acknowledge the need for jobs and growth. (Duh!) But she still seems fixed on her austerity course for the EU countries, complete with her standard lectures to lesser peoples other EU countries about the need to take responsibility. And she repeats her demand for "labor market flexibility", aka, lower wages, weaker unions, lower benefits. She brushes aware criticism about Germany's dominant role, telling her critics in fellow EU countries to just shut the hell up that while she takes their criticism seriously [cough, choke] there's nothing to them. Oh, and stop asking us for money.

And, Madame Lagarde, you know those eurobonds you were lecturing me about: fuggitaboutit.

Her idea for stimulus is to have some EU funds provide for subsidies to various businesses, a typical neoliberal prescription likely to have next to no stimulative effect in the short run.

Apparently, we don't get to see the full interview until Thursday's papers.

Speaking at the Davos Forum, she told the one-percenters there that, heck, no one should expect quick improvement. Her austerity economics will take another year, year-and-a-half at least to show any results. (J. Eigendorf et al, Angela Merkel beschwört die Solidarität der Europäer Welt Online 25.01.2012)

That Angie is a real piece of work.

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