Germany must accept it is not the only member to have suffered under the EU
I spent a weekend of glorious sunshine rediscovering places I don’t visit very often, and speaking at length with Germans. One of them pointed me at a book by the former Money Programme presenter Alan Watson, called simply The Germans. Written during the year or two following German reunification, it displays all the optimism of that time.
Correctly predicting that a united Germany would become the powerhouse of Europe, the book nevertheless makes not a single mention of monetary union – or even the idea of it. 1992 is only twenty years ago, and we’ve had the accursed euro for ten of those. So it just goes to show how quickly the egomaniacs got it onto the EU’s agenda – and how hastily the entire potty scheme was put together.
But the most significant thing in the book is the reverence the author pays to the German Constitution, and the Basic Law as enshrined in, and protected by, the Karlsruhe Court. No Party or Leader would dare question Karlsruhe, he opined, or try to change anything fundamental in the Constitution. The days of politicians ignoring the law or changing it on a whim were gone forever. Clearly, the one thing Watson didn’t expect was that a former DDR apparatchik would be Chancellor before another fifteen years were out -and the most powerful politician in Europe. An Osti who, in her adolescence, had been a hardline Communist Youth Organiser in charge of propaganda.
Angela Merkel has already ignored one Karlsruhe ruling on the idea of the ESM with the remarkable words, “It is only a Court with one opinion, whereas we have another opinion”. This is a spectacularly cavalier observation about the BundesCourt, which is in fact the final arbiter on all constitutional matters in Germany. The Court has also issued public warnings that the ceding of sovereignty involved in the Fiskal Union is bound by its nature to be unconstitutional. So far she has ignored this too, and is pressing ahead – while hinting darkly at constitutional changes in time for the next CDU National Conference. Her fellow plotter in this matter is Wolfgang Schauble, but following the Athens experience he too is becoming concerned about what Germany might or might not be getting into. As we saw here last week, Plan B – a German euro-exit – has been fully mapped out in Berlin.
But the German Chancellor sees this as very much the last resort – much to the chagrin of her bankers.
One suspects that one of the things she finds attractive about the EU is its casual willingness to ride roughshod over democracy and the Rule of Law. On every single occasion that the EU’s citizen’s have given their verdict on something, Brussels has ignored the result. When they seemed likely to ask for some kind of say, Brussels has blocked it. Votes that go the ‘wrong’ way are routinely referred to in Brussels as “accidents”. The EU’s Central Bank has been ignoring democratic decisions taken by MEPs since 2005. It’s President Mario Draghi illegally subordinated Greek bondholders, and got clean away with it. He then bailed out Greece using worthless self-created paper, and pulled that one off too.
But from her own point of view, Angela Merkel may well have arrived on the German political scene at exactly the right time. For today in 2012 – for the first time since the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 – the Germans are feeling hard done by.
Talking with Germans at the moment, there remains resentment first recorded here some three years ago. France, they feel, has been extracting guilt-ridden blood money for far too long. Very few people in today’s Bundesrepublik had anything at all to do with the Nazi atrocities. Sick of subsidising a far higher standard of living than France deserves, average Germans also resent coughing up for what they see as ClubMed idleness and corruption. The Britishers are in turn a pain, constantly telling jokes about the war and refusing to join in like good Europeans. And now the Greeks – the Greeks! – are calling squeaky-clean Germans Nazis. It is all so unfair.
But sadly, as Alan Watson’s book argues very lucidly, feelings of resentment among the Germans are usually the preface to big trouble in Europe.
The truth is that Germany needs to stop this self-pity, and right now. It has had the euro (effectively, a cheap Mark) for ten fat years. Fine, it has made the most of this and worked hard: but if the British are still obssessed with the War, so too are the Germans fixated on Weimar inflation. It is almost exactly 200 years since France invaded Germany…whereas the Germans have invaded France twice in the last century. Greece was not just invaded by Germany in 1941 – it was raped. It is now being asked not only to undergo a merciless austerity, but also to make just one exception to that hard rule: payment in full for German arms supplies. The Germans need to remember that much of the point of the EU more or less from Day One was to contain them – not France, not Britain, and most certainly not the ClubMeds. Following David Cameron’s alleged veto of the creation of a smaller FiskalUnion of 17 within the 27 (and where on earth is that in the Lisbon Treaty?) senior German politicians have made few friends with their talk of “Europe is speaking German now” and the quite unforgivable outburst from Wolfgang Schauble, “You will see Great Britain – you will be forced to join the euro in the end”. As ever, Germany is its own worst enemy.
That Chancellor Merkel is playing to this sense of resentment is hard to deny. Her sanctimonious claptrap about “all debts being paid in full” is nothing more than showboating: there isn’t enough money on the planet to pay for Europe’s debts – including Germany’s. At one point, it seemed to me she was willing to take the banks on, and defend taxpayers’ money. Now I’m not so sure. Like Hitler at Stalingrad, she draws impractical lines in the sand that waste both time and resources. No bailouts. No restructures. No ESFS. No ESM. No boosted ESM. No relaxation of austerity. It is all too reminiscent of the faceless and heartless demands of East European Communism.
Ironically, Europe’s greatest friends at the moment are the German bankers in Frankfurt, and Der Spiegel. They and they alone oppose Merkel’s ridiculously expensive and insensitive plans: the Bundestag politicians beyond the FPD are sleepwalking, ordinary Germans are indulging themselves in fantasies about latin Untermenschen, and the tabloid media are busy encouraging them in that cock-eyed view of life.
But the simple reality remains just this: the EU is turning into yet another failure for the crazy followers of multiculturalism…..only this time, the scale of the disaster is going to be financially and socially mind-boggling.