Saturday, March 27, 2010

Discussions about Chancellor Merkel

So did Chancellor Angela Merkel win over the question of Greece and what to do about it? Der Spiegel is allowing some people to shake their heads more in sorrrow than in anger. Take Werner Weidenfeld, Director of Center of Applied Policy Research (confusingly shortened to CAP) and "an expert on the structure of, and relationships within, the European Union" or a useful sort of bod to have around. When asked by Der Spiegel what he thought of the Chancellor's performance, he gave it a sort of B+.

Helmut Kohl would have done the same, he opined, but the problem with Merkel is that she is not so good at public relations. After the negotiations she will be perceived as stubborn and determined to push through her ideas regardless of the European principle. It is hard to believe that if that is the perception of Chancellor Merkel in Germany that would in any way harm her position.

To be fair to Herr Weidenfeld, he is not over-impressed by the horror of internal squabbling - it was always there - or by the threat of expelling Greece from the eurozone, if needs be. The eurozone needs security and that might mean expelling troublesome members. Furthermore, threats of that kind might have a beneficial effect on other countries who might find themselves in Greece's position. In other words, the PIIS (minus the G) are probably going to be a problem quite soon. Or, at least, they might be a problem. And, whatever the opposition might say in Germany, the people of that country, one assumes, prefer to have a Chancellor who is on their side, instead of paying lip-service to the idea of some putative European harmony.

The German media, perhaps unused to the sight of a German leader who puts her country's interests first, have also been mixed in their reaction. There seems some doubt as to whether the IMF with its strict rules should have been involved though what the alternative might have been remains opaque. It is a blow to European pride and to the whole European project. Well, maybe. But most of us would say that a project that relies on shady accounting (all those countries getting into the EMU though clearly not qualified) and an inability to cope with a crisis has little to be proud about.

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