Thursday, 17 March 2011

Deutschland, Deutschland And The Euro

Some time ago, I lived in Germany for a number years on and off, as part of a secondment by working for a German company. One of things that I noticed (among many) was that the German press had a far far less critical view of the EU than ours - perhaps understandably for obvious historical reasons. However this, almost slavish, praise of the EU was at odds with the views of the many Germans that I spoke to when I lived there (sound familiar?)

It's with this in mind that I highlight this from the German news magazine Der Spiegel, titled:
Why Ditching the Euro Would Be a Bad Idea.
Der Spiegel is currently embarking on a '5 big myths of the Euro and why everyone is wrong about the D-Mark' article. Now, it's not for me to say if this is a coincidence as there is an impeding bailout of Portugal, undoubtedly with German taxpayers' money, or that the Lisbon Treaty is currently being self-amended for the first time to provide 'a stability mechanism for Member States whose currency is the euro'.

Naturally the German taxpayers are wary of more of their money being used to bailout out other countries, unless it is on their terms. But what is interesting are the arguments put forward for Germany's continued membership of the Euro / EU:

Still, even without a direct referendum on the matter, no one can seriously argue that Germans never had a chance to air their views. Germans have never been shy about taking to the streets in protest. They also had their say at the ballot box. In the end, it was their own parliament that approved the Maastricht Treaty. If they had wanted to block the introduction of the euro, they could have voted for different representatives.

Similar arguments are always used here as well, for example Tory MP Alan Haselhurst in 1991 on the Maastricht debate:
Let us consider what we spend our time doing. The Order Paper shows the various matters that concern us. Our constituency mail bags show us the matters that our constituents want us to consider. We should recognise that we are not dealing with great international issues all the time. I must have had about three letters about the Maastricht treaty, but I had 10 times that number about Sunday trading and similar matters.
And Labour MP Mike Gapes on the Lisbon Treaty:
Many words have been spoken about the great interest in the [Lisbon Treaty] outside the House, but I have had only one e-mail and one letter from my constituents— [ Interruption. ] I am waiting for more to come.
(of course this reasoning is never applied to climate change policy which usually doesn't even register in polls of voters' concerns).

I can't help feeling, with the Der Spiegel going big on the pitfalls of leaving the Euro, that someone somewhere in Germany is getting a little nervous.

1 comment:

  1. TBF, the comments you reproduce would suggest, then, that the ruling elite will only change their behaviour if we all take to the streets and protest. If my memory serves me right, we did that regarding both the Iraq war and fox hunting. And what did it do to change their minds? Nothing. So, I doubt that anything short of a noose will free us from the bonds that our government seems so intent on binding us with. And I don't mean for my head to be in the noose.