Good Reads: Saving Europe by handing the keys to Germany and France
The collapse of Europe's common currency may have been averted by a new France-German plan to centralize budget decisions, but critics worry about having Germany in charge.
After months of uncertainty, in which the great economies of Europe appeared to be close to collapse because of bad debt, Germany and France now seem close to sealing a deal that would have the stronger economies of Europe manage the budgets of everybody else to restore investor confidence.Skip to next paragraph
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If journalists, by necessity, have become good at writing stories about war, terrorism, and obscure religious militant groups since 9/11, then today’s generation of journalists are likely to become good at telling the story about financial distress and recovery. Because the financial distress affects everyone, and it may take years before global markets find their footing and become stable, boring, and uninteresting. In the meantime, the markets are confusing, and that’s why journalists get paid "the big bucks" to explore and explain them.
Stock market investors will almost inevitably like this proposed European deal, which will centralize the decisionmaking over budget matters, and we can look for stock markets to improve throughout the coming days. But there are many Europeans who worry about handing over their sovereignty and their most important government functions to a pair of powerful neighbors, France and Germany, both of whom have attempted in the past to take over control of Europe by military force.
In making the case for the new plan, French President Nicholas Sarkozy admitted that there is a “fear that France could lose control of its own destiny,” but the conservative leader added that for the good of a unified European economy, "France and Germany have decided to unite their fate." The German magazine Der Spiegel was sensitive to the historical resonance of all this, and why there may be objections to uniting all Europe’s economic decisions under a “German model.”
In these days of crisis in Europe, the "German model" has become something of a magic formula. Like it or not, the dusty, dry Germans now seem to hold the key to European salvation.
Laura Raim, in the conservative Paris newspaper Le Figaro, writes that if smaller, weaker countries suddenly find themselves being told what to do by their big German brother, they have only their own spendthrift ways to blame.