After the Italian ‘no’ and the Brexit, Germans must decide which Europe they want

Questions and answers during the national briefing by Wolfgang Schauble, Federal Minister for Finance of Germany, following the ECOFIN Council on 6 December 2016, in Brussels. Snapshot from a video. (European Council - Council of the European Union, Audiovisual Services).

Questions and answers during the national briefing by Wolfgang Schauble, Federal Minister for Finance of Germany, following the ECOFIN Council on 6 December 2016, in Brussels. Snapshot from a video. (European Council – Council of the European Union, Audiovisual Services).

There is no doubt that Europe is in disarray. The long standing malaise of high unemployment and economic stagnation has already mutated into critical political problems. The mutations of the European political ecosystem take various, unseen before forms. In the northern EU countries they invariably appear as extreme right or even semi-fascist political parties, inflated by anti-immigration, xenophobic and chauvinistic rhetoric, also directed against the ‘lazy’ and over indebted southerners in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In the south, the political mutations take other forms including left wing extremism in Greece and Portugal or assume a clown outfit as in Beppe Grillo’s Italy.

However, there is a common denominator in all those cases. This is a populist narrative containing mainly crude Eurosceptisism and irrelevant or even crooked anti- systemic cries. As if destructing the European Union and throwing the immigrants in the Mediterranean would automatically create good jobs and cure the everyday frustrations for a large part of the population. There is an audience, though, for all that. According to the EU statistical service, the Eurostat: “more than 1 in 10 people in the EU cannot afford to get together with friends or family for a drink and 1 in 6 is not able to participate in a leisure activity”. Add to that the part of the population which is traditionally captive to chauvinistic cries and the sum becomes uncontrollable. The rest has to be charged to inept, self centered politicians, who have distanced themselves from the agonizing parts of society.

A critical mass of people

This dreadful reality was manifested in last Sunday’s Italian referendum. Most voters didn’t care to answer the question asked, namely, should the constitution be changed in order for the institutional decision making system in the Parliament to be more effective. Nearly 60% voted ‘no’. They rebuffed the ‘system’, the EU, the elites, the globalization, the immigrants, the Germanic Europe and whatever the populist politicians had for sale. So, Matteo Renzi received a double blow. For one thing, the Italians denied him the chance of becoming the dominant political figure. At the same time though, many earnest Italians showed their complete disappointment with the way the EU functions, which is to penalize almost everybody who cannot comply with the Germanic way in which the economy functions. The 18 to 34 years of age group voted by 81% ‘no’ for a good reason. Youth unemployment is around 40% nationwide and more than 50% in Rome and southwards.

This is the outcome of six years of economic misery in the south of the EU, caused by brutal austerity, over indebtedness and Teutonic economic policies. It was not like that before. In Italy and Greece unemployment rates were for decades down to single digits. The Greeks still pay the price for rescuing the Germans and in many ways the western banking system, back in the 2009-2010 financial meltdown. The country was forced to pay its oversized debts in nominal values, which would have been drastically cut down had Greece chosen to go insolvent, and asked its creditors to sit down and negotiate the servicing of a workable debt. The three rescue programs of German inspiration and profit imposed on Greece have increased the country’s public debt from 120% in 2009 to 180% today.

It’s the turn of Italy

Now, it’s the turn of Italy to go through the same appalling process. Some weeks before the referendum, Renzi asked Germany to agree to a European solution for the recapitalization of the ailing Italian banks, with first in the list the Monte dei Paschi bank, the oldest lender of Europe. Berlin denied to even discuss the prospect of activating the European Banking Union tools, insisting that Italy is alone in this and the EU cannot offer any help.

The Germans forget that back in the banking crisis era of 2009-2010 they violated all and every EU law when rescuing their own failing banks. They also forget that their exponential economic development of the 1950s and the 1960s was built upon the full write-off of their debts which the rest of world had the generosity to offer them.

Germany v ECB

On top of that, Germany is systematically attacking and undermining the efforts of the European Central Bank under Mario Draghi to alleviate financial pressures burdening heavily indebted Eurozone members. Today, Thursday 8 December in Frankfurt, the Governing Council of ECB, on the insistence of Germany, is reportedly expected to discuss the reduction or even the gradual withdrawal of the unconventional monetary measures used by the central bank to support the weaker member states.

Draghi himself indirectly blames the political stubbornness of Germany for the deadlocks that Eurozone may face in the future. In an interview with the prestigious Spanish newspaper ‘El País’ when asked if there is a risk of “going back to the 1930s with protectionism and authoritarianism” he answered “All in all, the banking sector and perhaps more generally the financial sector, is stronger than it used to be before the crisis. But in the medium term it is not yet clear what the consequences of past, current and future political uncertainty will be. There will be consequences, that much is certain”. Given that, so far the political choices in Eurozone’s economic affairs are almost exclusively dictated by Germany, the ominous reference is clear.

In short, after the realities of the Brexit and the Italian ‘no’ towards a Germanic EU, things have to change. If not, the Italexit is not very far away. The currently followed economic policies, inspired mainly by Berlin, invariably lead to a Germanic Europe that everybody else rejects. Of course, the question is if Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal will be willing or able to continue participating in it.

Soon, the Germans will be obliged to choose – it is impossible for them to have it all. Germany cannot , at the same time, gain from British and Greek customers for its expensive cars but ignore their hardships, because, in the long term, it is a lose-lose situation.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Libyans continue ‘spilling their blood on the battlefield’ as fight for Tripoli rages on

In Finland, speeding tickets are linked to your income

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

This entrepreneur is helping farmers get food to consumers during lockdown

Halt death sentences on children, UN rights expert urge Saudi authorities

Coronavirus: Commission unveils EU vaccines strategy

2016 crisis update: the year of the Red Fire Monkey burns the world’s markets down

Investors have a role in securing our shared digital future

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

Why vaccines are not just for children

Food safety: Enhancing consumer trust in EU risk assessment and authorisation

Not faith, ‘but those who manipulate the faithful’ driving wedge between religions, UN-backed forum in Baku told

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

It’s EU vs. Google for real: the time is now, the case is open

Six steps that can help us to tackle homelessness

Beyond self-regulation: dealing with Europe’s consumption problem

Future of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh ‘hangs in the balance’ – UNHCR chief

This project is turning abandoned fishing gear into volleyball nets

Despite lagging in the Global Goals, Africa can meet the 2030 deadline: Rwandan President

Conflicting statistics and bad banks haunt the Eurozone

EU leading in global agri-food trade

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

EDRi @ European Business Summit 2014: Digital Citizenship in Brussels – the case of Net Neutrality

UN human rights chief warns of women’s rights complacency

LGBTQI+ and medicine

Planes can now fly for 21 hours non-stop. But are people ready?

Bacterial resistance: the significant worldwide problem

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

EU growth in 2015 to be again sluggish; Can the Juncker Commission fight this out?

Urgent action needed to address growing opioid crisis

This is why AI has a gender problem

Madagascar: UN chief commends leaders, State institutions following ‘historic milestone’ election

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

Hungary has made progress on greening its economy and now needs to raise its ambitions

Coronavirus Global Response: European Commission pledges €300 million to Gavi

Is a uniform CO2 emission linked car taxation possible in the EU?

UN will do ‘utmost to prevent and mitigate any risk of violence’ in DR Congo, pledges Mission chief

This is the world’s biggest mental health problem – and you might not have heard of it

Europe is no longer an innovation leader. Here’s how it can get ahead

COVID-19: Managing Our Mental Health

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

Nearly $4 billion needed to protect 41 million children from conflict and disaster

How ‘small’ is Europe in Big Data?

Ecuador: UN ‘stands ready’ to support talks, in bid to end political turmoil

Australia wants to build a giant underground ‘battery’ to help power the nation

UN resolution paves way for mass use of driverless cars

Medical Devices Regulation: Commission welcomes Council support to prioritise the fight against coronavirus

GSMA Mobile 360 Series –Digital Societies, in association with The European Sting

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

UN working ‘intensively’ to stop Ebola in eastern DR Congo, following second case in major border town

EU and New Zealand launch trade negotiations

UN experts report: Business ‘dragging its feet’ on human rights worldwide

International Criminal Court acquits former president Gbagbo of war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire

Strawberries and child support; a Thai partnership

Coronavirus: harmonised standards for medical devices to respond to urgent needs

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

3 reasons why AI won’t replace human translators… yet

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

Eurozone: Statistics don’t tell the whole story

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s