The European Common Market was a good idea, as free trade zones pretty much always are. But Europe’s elites weren’t satisfied with that; they wanted a politically unified continent that would equal the U.S. and that would empower them even beyond their already-lofty status. The people of most European countries, however, have never been on board with turning their sovereignty over to Brussels. So the European Union has existed in a sort of uneasy limbo.
It’s always seemed that in a time of crisis, national loyalties would likely reassert themselves. Today, that happened, as Europe’s biggest economies were unable to organize a coordinated response to the world-wide credit crisis. It was Europe’s biggest and most powerful country, Germany, that served notice on the others that “union” goes only so far:
Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck made clear his government’s opposition to the idea that the euro zone’s single largest economy should put up money to prop up institutions outside his country.
He said Monday that he and Chancellor Angela Merkel were considering creating a “shield” that would protect the country’s entire financial sector, and that a Europe-wide shield or bailout was out of the question. “The chancellor and I reject a European shield because we as Germans do not want to pay into a big pot where we do not have control and do not know where German money might be used,” he said in a separate interview with WDR 2 radio.
I’m not being critical here; Germany is a country and Europe isn’t. It’s one thing to sacrifice for one’s countrymen, something else to sacrifice for those who share your continent, however friendly those other nations may be. That is as it should be. But it must be admitted that Germany’s action today mocks the pretensions of the Eurocrats who have been engaged in a slow-motion coup for quite a few years now.
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