While the US has been obsessing over tax cuts, there’s increasing European discontent with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s lack of real ideas about how to put the Eurozone on sounder footing. These tough cross border hits from Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Junker are a sign of the times:
Juncker told German weekly Die Zeit in an interview that Berlin had not even properly looked at his proposal, which was aimed at helping weaker eurozone members raise money, before deciding to oppose it.
“Germany’s thinking was a bit simplistic on this,” he said. “They are rejecting an idea before studying it. This is very strange. This way of creating taboo areas in Europe and not dealing with others’ ideas is a very un-European way of dealing with European matters,” he said.
Merkel responded by urging for “calm” ahead of next Friday’s summit of EU leaders, where discussions will focus on creating a permanent crisis mechanism for the eurozone and what the chancellor called “narrow” changes to EU treaties.
The issue behind the issue is that Germany is currently enjoying the most rapid 12-month period of GDP growth since reunification so there’s no great sense of urgency here. And the issue behind the issue behind the issue is simply that like in most European countries, the German public is not particularly engaged with “European” politics as such. Newspapers have 4-5 times as many people covering the German parliament as they do covering Brussels. In America people care about their parochial interests, but there’s a very real feeling of a national community and people who pay attention to politics pay attention to Washington. In Europe, especially in the larger countries, not so much.