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Germany Won't Waste A Good Euro Crisis
Finance
News From Around the World
Monday, April 05, 2010
Ed DeShields

German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally said it out loud for the whole world to hear.  Germany is going to re-order the Eurozone into its own federalist vision of economic and political where-with-all.  She apparently means it.

In a stunning series of announcements last week, Merkel called for violators of EU budget rules to be permanently expelled from the Eurozone -- as in, good bye Club Med; you're out of the club.  Countries with budget deficits that exceed 3% of their domestic output aren't allowed under the EU's Maastricht Treaty, an updated version of the original Lisbon Treaty which partially unified Europe economically.

The summation of all this of course is that the Euro and its Maastricht Treaty conditions are being levered to make the case for the ultimate political union redux with Germany at the head table of a new Europe.  Forget Brussels.  Brussels is too political with too many members and not enough raw power.

Thus this week, the great Euro experiment looked like it may be coming to an end.  Once hailed as the monetary unit that would create the federalization of Europe under a single flag, the Euro's flaws have nearly bankrupted one third of the sixteen Eurozone countries that adopted it. The hope that the Euro would become the world's reserve currency of choice has faded as the Euro's share of reserves stalled at 23% and hasn’t budged in five years.

The Euro crisis has been brought on by Germany’s insatiable volume of exports shipped to its intra-zone trading partners creating a mismatched economic playing field within the Eurozone.  Germany is a world-class exporter with a highly productive workforce.  Its low labor costs easily leads the EU in market efficiency.  Greece and other Eurozone countries are near collapse and are, by comparison, fat and lazy under-producing consumers of all things German.  Germany’s exports have become consumption debts to the rest of the Europe.  And, Chancellor Merkel says she isn’t going to let up.

Germany's economic leverage gives it a unique opportunity to extend its hand into Middle East politics.  Germany has become Israel's staunchest ally in Europe, and is Israel's third-largest trade partner after the US and China.  Although the current German administration is highly supportive of Israel, there is increasing dislike for Israel among the German populace so Israel is understandably cautious of any German role in peace talks proposed by Merkel.

However, in January, Germany and Israel met for the first-ever joint cabinet meeting in Berlin. A German government spokesman said the meeting was a rare occurrence.  "Germany only has these joint cabinet meetings with very few international partners, for example France and Poland", German spokesperson Christoph Steegmans told reporters.  Iran was a key subject discussed as were trade and middle-east peace.

It should be noted that Israel has acquired three Dolphin-class submarines from Germany, with two additional subs to be delivered. Each is a conventional submarine but can be upgraded to support a nuclear payload. This week a former Israeli under-secretary of defense suggested it was from the Dophin-class submarines that low grade nuclear bunker-busters would be delivered to Iranian nuclear facilities if the world could not stop Iran's nuclear weapons production.  It is Europe, especially Germany, which will force any crippling sanctions upon Iran.  American influence is non-consequential. 

Further, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made German political aspirations crystal clear when he told the Munich Security Conference that it is now time for Germany's political influence to seek new highs.  He said, "The long-term goal is the establishment of a European army under full parliamentary control. The European Union must live up to its political role as a global player."  He added, "It must happen in this generation". 

The back story here is that the twenty-seven countries who joined the EU gave up their rights to establish a sovereign army but the hope of adding military dominance has not died with the many failed attempts to establish Europe as a unified security force under past treaties.

But, like the Obama Administration, the Germans aren’t about to let a good crisis go to waste;   especially when such a crisis could propel Germany into the driver’s seat of the world power.

About Ed DeShields

Last week: Is the Euro Reordering the EU?



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