Daniel Korski

A more German Europe?

A more German Europe?
Text settings
Comments

T

imothy Garton Ash asked an important question in the Guardian recenty - is Europe becoming more German? Or, to put it more accurately, does the EU have to become more German to survive?

"If the eurozone falls apart, it will be because Germany did not do enough to save it. If the eurozone is saved, it will be thanks to Germany. This is the greatest challenge to German statecraft since the country was peacefully united 20 years ago."

"Yet here is another horn of Germany's dilemma. For half a century, German politicians have repeated, like a mantra, Thomas Mann's call for "a European Germany, not a German Europe". It was in this spirit, and in the context of securing German unification, that the Federal Republic agreed to give up the symbol and anchor of its postwar revival - the mighty D-mark. As a wholly unintended result, it is now being driven, not by its own hegemonic ambitions, but by the interplay of the dynamics of a lopsided, incomplete European monetary union, on the one hand, and the pressures of its own increasingly eurosceptic public, on the other, to insist on what is - in effect - a German Europe. Or at least, a more German Europe: that is to say, one having greater fiscal discipline, with member states not piling up mountains of public and private debt."

This is not a new concern, of course. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote in the Daily Telegraph seven months ago: "We now know the answer to Henry Kissinger's question: "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?" Only one person matters. The Chancellor of Germany."

Seven months ago, the centrality of Germany seemed a one-off. But Europe's crisis has since escalated, its alarming weaknesses exposed. The Irish government's failure to quell eurozone debt fears and the increasing risk that Portugal and even Spain may follow suit, makes the issue of Germany's role and vision for Europe impossible to avoid.