Saturday, January 07, 2017

German Vice Chancellor: EU Breakup Could Happen

It doesn't take much to go from inconceivable to conceivable. The European Union is no longer inevitable. If Frexit follows Brexit, then the collapse of the EU will become very difficult to stave off.
Germany's insistence on austerity in the euro zone has left Europe more divided than ever and a break-up of the European Union is no longer inconceivable, German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Der Spiegel magazine.
Gabriel, whose Social Democrats (SPD) are junior partner to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in her ruling grand coalition, said strenuous efforts by countries like France and Italy to reduce their fiscal deficits came with political risks.
"I once asked the chancellor, what would be more costly for Germany: for France to be allowed to have half a percentage point more deficit, or for Marine Le Pen to become president?" he said, referring to the leader of the far-right National Front.
The percentage point is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Yes the financials are a major issue, but that's a structural problem within the European Union. And holding the line there was one of the few things that Merkel got right. Changing that would just make the EU unsustainable even faster while producing a very limited public opinion firewall. The stronger members of the European Union are more likely to think, as the UK did, that they can do better economically on their own. And Germany will see its benefits disappear if it tries to keep the EU going on its own.
None of this addresses independence and migration. Or the simple fact that many Europeans feel like the EU is a stifling blanket that takes a great deal and provides very little, that robs countries of their autonomy, but is unable to cope with even simple problems that individual nations could handle far better... if they were allowed to.

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