'More Europe!': Germany's battle-cry for the eurozone

 
Chancellor Angela Merkel and German foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at a Nato conference in Chicago in May 2012 Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle say the crisis needs "more Europe"

It is the rallying cry of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel as she points to what she thinks is the way out of the euro mire.

"More Europe means that we must give up more powers to Europe," Mrs Merkel says.

She said it again after meeting the leaders of Spain, France and Italy in Rome: "The lesson of this crisis is more Europe, not less Europe."

But is Berlin's ceding power to Brussels also the route to a United States of Europe?

The Future Group

A picture of the German conception of Europe's future is emerging from the utterances of the German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, and through the newly published interim report of what is known as the Future Group, which he set up.

The proposals are:

• More European power to determine the economic and tax policies of the member states. There should be a "transfer of sovereignty" to the European centre

• A strengthening of the EU's "foreign office", with a common European foreign and security policy

• A smaller European Commission able to make decisions faster

• A bigger role for the European Parliament to make "stronger democratic legitimacy"

• A directly elected President of Europe

• A European army

United States of Europe?

So is it a USE - a United States of Europe? There are certainly similarities with the USA - with its central power over economics and common foreign policy.

Without saying United States of Europe, Mr Westerwelle justifies the move to "more Europe" by citing the current crisis in the eurozone.

Chancellor Merkel talks to British PM David Cameron in Berlin on 7 June Disconnect: Prime Minister Cameron sees too much integration as harmful

"It is the worst crisis that Europe has ever faced. We have to learn the right lessons from it. Decision-making in Europe is often too slow," he says.

"Unfortunately, a cold wind of repatriation is sweeping through the European Union. The grand idea of Europe is in danger."

He goes on: "But the truth is that we need more Europe, not less. Europe must stand up for itself, for the idea of cultural unity. Steps towards a genuine political union would make a tangible contribution to ending the crisis."

Mr Westerwelle has some weight behind him. A Future of Europe Group that he set up is made up of fellow foreign ministers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland.

It is not clear if France is in or out. It sent an official to the early meetings with a promise of a foreign minister after the election.

'Too fast, too far'

But 17 of the 27 countries in the European Union were left out, including Britain and Sweden which are both sceptical about more power going to Brussels.

Flags lines up outside the EU commission headquarters in Brussels More power for Europe or was it too far too fast?

One Swedish diplomat was quoted by Spiegel magazine as saying that the German foreign minister was not contributing to EU co-operation by leaving some countries out.

And it should be said that what Mr Westerwelle thinks is not always what Mrs Merkel thinks. He may be the foreign minister but he comes from a different party in the coalition.

But "more Europe" is their shared desire.

In Britain there is a view, certainly within the Conservative Party which dominates the coalition government, that the lesson to be drawn from the crisis is that European integration went too fast and too far.

In the Eurosceptic view, European integration was ill-advised because the peoples of Europe were not ready for it. They would baulk, so the argument runs, at being pushed and jostled towards a single identity.

In the German view, pushing towards a unified identity is precisely what now needs to be done.

Can they both stay in the same boat if they are rowing in opposite directions? Might they squabble and tip the whole thing over?

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 76.

    A European army even? Isn't the worlds most successful alliance ..NATO, good enough anymore, or just not European enough?
    Give up more national sovereignty? I think Angela Merkel would have us sell our souls if she thought it would make her theories work!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 75.

    @46
    Just travelled Northern Germany ( Stralsund, Rügen, Usedom ...).
    And met a lot of decent people ( like in Britain ). And saw beautiful brick churches ( like in Britain ).
    We have this amazing, terrifying and glorious common history in Europe.
    I may be a romantic, but I think the idea of closer integration should not be dropped too quickly.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 74.

    68 Herr E

    Germany is a powerhaus because it has been feed by the imbalances of the euro. Its an absolute mess in Europe as is, we will all pay for it

    64 Herr K

    Doesnt matter if Merkel is in or out, austerity large isnt working, as soon as it is accepted that austerity isnt working & wealth transfers cannot occur there is only 1 route forward & stalling is to prepare. Merkel has lost, no winners

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 73.

    Without political unity a common currncy will be a never ending source of trouble. It would be nice though if the people of Europe got asked whether or not they want political unity instead of having the decision imposed upon them by politicians who were never entrusted by the voters with authority to give up national sovereignty.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 72.

    The only people pushing for more Europe are the politicians who are the bought and paid for enablers of the financial elite. They want a Europe which is by the bankers, for the bankers and it looks like they have their way.
    Until the pushback starts....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 71.

    It is definitely not the view of " the Germans " that we need more Europe. That is is why Merkels party was hammered in recent elections. The view of the German people is the same as people all over Europe. We need to regain democracy and have more participation and respect for the people who are actually paying the bills.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 70.

    'Democracythreat' says:

    "Look, how many people go to holiday in Germany and have a wildly fun time?"

    Well, I go there every year and do have a wildly fun time. Excellent food, scenery and reasonable prices. Holidays in Germany are the best-kept secret. And you don't get ripped off, either.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 69.

    This has happened before in North America!

    There, numerous cultures are combined as a 'united states' with one currency.

    We can have the same here in Europe, become united and, if truly democratic, we can ensure the rights of human beings are upheld.

    Bring back manufacturing of proven, long lasting goods.

    Europe can even feed itself.

    It has to start somewhere and at sometime. So why not now?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    A Daley - Germany wants Europe on it's terms as it is the current economic power house. I don't like one nation dominating Europe like this and I don't agree with the current European model or Merkel's "more not less Europe". Europe is not simply about the needs of Germany (or France). Sadly that is what it has come to. Don't think the German People have the desire to rule Europe though!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 67.

    I agree that all cultures are equal - there are no bad cultures, only different cultures. But when a different culture (Greece) has a bad impact on another culture(s), then that culture (Greece) should keep to themselves (leave the Euro). They need to solve their own problems. Other cultures will never be able to help them permanently. They need to learn how to work for themselves, again.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 66.

    German public debt is higher than Spanish public debt!

    USA and UK, to name but two, have far higher levels of debt than Spain and EZ

    Spain had a fiscal surplus till 2007...the recession changed all that!. What debtor countries require is to be able to finance themselves at an affordable rate (like previously) so as to pay down debt. Leaving aside Greece, these are loans with interest

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 65.

    The economic discussion of Europe's future ignores the political dimension, and the cultural, which I am the bad man for mentioning, because all cultures in Europe are equal. Though some are more equal than others. But consider the cold war. Were the economic outcomes a question of fiscal policy, or political freedom? The USSR had economics professors in abundance. An elite, who knew best for all.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 64.

    Germany has no desire to "control" Europe. Germany just wants to control its own money, and not have to spend it foolishly on bailouts to countries that will NEVER pay it back. Germany wants less Europe as well. And nobody in Germany thinks it is worth it. Germans are very tired of this whole thing and getting impatient. Merkel will be out if she does not stand strong on austerity.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 63.

    The German ideas being expressed at the moment are an essential contribution to a debate we all must have. Do we, or do we not, want further integration within the EU? IMO we will end up with two or even three differing European groups, with greater or lesser integration to suit, i.e. the end of the ‘one size fits all’ approach.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 62.

    Tonight on Spanish state TV we have Schindlers List playing......I wonder why they chose that one for peak audience on the most popular channel?

    I think it says a lot about how people feel about Germany today

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 61.

    54. "...southern Europe wants more Germany....... they want less!....."

    Yes - they want less commentary, but they'll definately take more German money. They won't stop 'till they overdose on it.

    On the German side, is anybody asking "is this really worth it?"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 60.

    I hope (and believe) that Germany will be the first to exit Euro. Which can begin a swift exit of the northern countries. Poor Finland with Nokia becoming destroyed will want to get out soon as well. And Great Britain must think the Euro experiment is a big joke - as I am sure they think a tighter fiscal union is a big joke.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 59.

    Ask yourself what sort of society Germany wants for Europe. If you believe it is based on consensus politics and the rule of law, you are not paying attention to the way it has been developed so far. Gross human rights abuses are actually endorsed in baltic states, and against the Roma, and democracy is seen as a foolish threat to "good order". NATO gave Europe the rule of law. Germany did not.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 58.

    51 carl c

    Austerity is clearly not working so you can forget that one. How much evidence do you need to qualify that it does not work. The UK is due to move to infrastructure investment to stimulate domestically

    Germany may want control but democracy demands voters are given a say and they will say no to a loss of sovereignty particularly having seen the treatment Greece has received

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 57.

    And of course, the Euro is going to be bankrupt. Spain needs another bailout – in the order of 140 billion. There is not enough money to bail out Italy, and France is struggling under Hollande’s policies. If 1 country leaves the Euro, the ECB will be bankrupt – and would need bailing out by Euro nation states – which would cause banking collapse within the EU/USA.

 

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