Sunday 21 August 2011

Spiegel Online International on eurozone crisis

It is annoying not to know if the joint, but divided Twin Peaks proposal is intended to bless us with a new ”economic government” (gouvernement économique FR) or just enhanced ”economic governance” (wirtschaftliche Steuerung DE) of the euro area.

Even if the key concept has proved slippery, I tried to evaluate the Franco-German proposals in the blog post Merkel-Sarkozy letter: My reading, part of an extended series about the euro crisis (Eurokrisen).

Let us compare notes with Spiegel Online International, about what the German chancellor Angela Merkel and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy proposed to Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council invited to come up with concrete proposals by October.

Spiegel Online International

In the aftermath of the Paris summit, Stefan Kaiser on Spiegel Online International spoke about ”true economic government”, but found the exact meaning unclear. He interviewed professor Henrik Enderlein, who saw the proposal as an attempt to sideline Jean-Claude Juncker (the chairman of the informal Euro Group): What Will a European Economic Government Entail (17 August 2011).

The following day, German media comments harvested by Spiegel Online International were unclear about the contents and unsure of how helpful the proposals would be: 'Merkel-Sarkozy Plan Already On Shaky Footing' (18 August 2011).

Spiegel Online International looked at the state of the German coalition government: Will Merkel's Coalition Hinder Euro Rescue? (18 August 2011). The FDP welcomed the rejection of euro bonds, the introduction of a debt brake, greater competitiveness and stability. However, economic government or offering ”Brussels” more powers, tangled the nerves of many among the government parties.

If Merkel's coalition partners lap up the debt-brake, the plan is triggering massive resistance in southern eurozone countries. Stefan Simons and Carsten Volkery report in Spiegel Online that the difficulties to enact balanced-budget amendments start at home for president Sarkozy. Debt-brakes have been in place since the Maastricht Treaty, to what effect? See: The Great Debt Brake Swindle (18 August 2011).

For a quick overview, I recommend the Graphics Gallery about the global debt crisis offered by Der Spiegel, 18 slides including eurozone and US federal deficit figures.

Spiegel Online International takes a step back to gain a wider view of the European project. Roland Nelles contrasts the passion of ”The Federalist Papers” with the failure of citizens to engage for a better Europe: How to Get Europeans to Care about Europe (19 August 2011). The current

... intransparent, technocratic policymaking among leaders generates exactly the kind of dangerous Europe-fatigue that is helping the populist idiots win support.


The Paris summit taught us more about the limits of our current political leaders, than about the real challenges.

In my view, without real powers and real democracy at European level, our continent will remain ill equipped to enhance the security and the prosperity of its citizens in a volatile world.

With Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night.

Follow the discussion about the future of Europe and the eurozone on, an important part of the European public sphere.

Ralf Grahn

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