Europe’s Greek tragedy is reaching the climax of its ever thickening plot. Tensions, flare-ups, angry undiplomatic outbursts from politicians, overt undercutting and tripping of feet have rumbled across the EU. Germany has told Greece to drop dead. The German government has taken upon itself the role of the sole decision maker of who can stay and go in the EU. Germany’s bossy attitude has bristled Greece, raised eyebrows in the UK and has enraged France. German actions of the past week is a case study on how to make enemies and antagonise people.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel effectively killed the Euro as a viable currency by refusing and blocking emergency financial aid to the ailing Greek economy. Merkel told Greece not to expect a Euro cent and to go to the IMF for assistance. Other German government ministers and officials from the central bank have told Greece that it should go bankrupt and ultimately be expelled from the Euro currency zone.
Greece doesn’t want to leave and Prime Minister George Papandreou has publicly stated that Greece isn’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, France is agitating for a coordinated EU bailout for Greece. France fears that any Eurozone member state which begs the IMF for loans will give the United States direct influence over the financial governance within the EU. Worse, should the IMF assist an Euro currency country, the credibility of the Euro as a stable currency will be lost. Such a loss of confidence would be the death knell for the European Union as monetary and economic union. Unfortunately, French President Sarkozy has so many domestic problems which have forced him to fight for his political life. Sarkozy lacks the wherewithal to challenge Germany.
For its part, Germany doesn’t give a damn knowing full well the weakness of the French government. Every official statement from France regarding Greece is quickly and officially repudiated by Germany. Tomorrow (Thursday 25 March) will see the heads of all EU governments attend a summit in Brussels. Greece, France and Italy want the Greek crisis to be on the agenda. Germany says no as it sees no reason for Greece to be on the agenda. After all, as the German establishment has reiterated over the past month, the Greeks are lazy and irresponsible people. They have no one to blame but themselves for their troubles. Why should the EU concern itself? The French and British media are fuming at Germany as it has finally dawned upon wide layers of European society that Germany has not only dominated Europe economically but is using its weight to dominate the continent politically.
The increasingly sharp tenor directed at Germany is responded with bellicose rebuttals. Germany has proclaimed that it has the unilateral power and authority to make or break the EU. This has elicited explosions of outrage in the UK. The British Conservative Party, which is widely expected to win the upcoming parliamentary elections in May, has made anti-German chauvinism its battle cry. Nearly half of its elected politicians and ranking party figures are not openly calling for an unilateral UK withdrawal from the EU but also for trade war and economic blockade against Germany. A Conservative British government aims to shovel more dirt over the EU coffin.
The current tensions between the UK and Germany date back to the Panic of 2008. Angela Merkel singled out the UK and US for blame as the cheif culprits for the financial meltdown. She cited a lack of strong government regulation which allowed the shady speculations and illegal financial schemes to plummet the world into the deepest recession since the 1930s. The German Finance Minister at the time insisted that Germany, through the European Commission, should effectively monitor and regulate the financial industry in the UK. The verbal provocation caused Britain get its back up. The UK doesn’t use the Euro currency and is exempted from many provisions of the EU. Britain regards its currency and financial system as its last scrap of sovereignty. Any foreign control over how it does business, particularly from Germany, is taken short of a declaration of war. Expect to see ego clashes and stormy meetings between European politicians during the course of this year.
Germany has made the worst fears of Europe come true since reunification in 1990. Many countries were leery of entering into a political union with Germany, fearing it would result in their subordination to the largest country in Europe. To reassure them, Germany abandoned its very strong and stable Deutsch Mark in return for the creation of the Euro. However, Germany penned the treaties setting stringent rules such as debt limits per ratio to the GPD. The Greek crisis has exposed the imbalanced leverage Germany holds over the smaller and poorer countries of Europe.
Tomorrow’s summit in Brussels will effectively put the final nail in the coffin for the EU. It will also lead to irreconciable differences between Germany and France which eventually will lead to open conflict. With Greece unable to finance its debt in the coming weeks, a new stage of the economic crisis will follow. On the tails of this will come an escalation of political and social crisis. The Countdown to EU self destruction continues apace.