Daniel Korski

Germany to the EU: no more integration

Germany to the EU: no more integration
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A Conservative Party article of faith has been the belief that other Europeans are innately more pro-EU than the British. In the past, this has undoubtedly been the case. Poll after poll has shown that Britons see the EU differently than most other Europeans. But as I have argued before, times are changing on the continent.

In an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (not a Europhile newspaper by any stretch), Germany's new politics is explained. Nikolas Busse argues that the Greek crisis and failure of EU leaders to cobble together a plausible bail-out is the first major manifestation of Germany's new role in Europe - that of a country whose government will, with full popular and cross-party support, put national interest ahead of the common European interest, and where overt hostility to further European integration is now the dominant mood in the public and among the political class:

'The largest member-state, which for so long was the guarantor of the EU, and often still is, has for the first time openly said that it is no longer willing to pay any price for European unification. Therefore, the issue of the Greece euro crisis is far more than simply a monetary issue. It changes the political game in Europe.'

This is a far more important change than many a treaty reform as it amounts to a fundamental change in the basic parameters of European politics. The EU was based on an idea of harnessing and containing Germany. Germany in turn swapped a national interest for an EU one to be allowed back into polite society. But Germany is now becoming a normal country, with its own national interest. There is not only a consensus in Germany against bailing out Greece, but a consensus that the rules of the eurozone can be reshaped at Berlin's behest, and that further European integration is not in Germany's interest. These changes will, in the words of my colleague Thomas Klau, have "a traumatic, disruptive and disorienting experience for European politics."