The weak Greek economy is to be bailed out once again. Instead of allowing the Euro to crumble, the Germans fight to keep the Euro together. There is evidence of strong economies upholding weak: West Germany sustained the East, the West of Turkey sustains the East, London sustains the North. But the strong Euro nations cannot sustain the weak ones because they do not share a culture, identity or language, writes David Vaiani.
So, once again, EU leaders have clubbed together to bail out the Greeks. Despite the fact that there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest that Greek politicians are even remotely capable of sorting out the country’s lamentable finances, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have decided that the gaping hole in the Greek ship must be plugged with even more cash than at the time of the last Greek bailout.
This is madness. It is an economic policy that is akin to the idea of giving an alcoholic a crate of wine in order to cure his addiction. But then, of course, the bailout has little to with economic theory. It is a purely political act. Merkel gave the game away when she announced: “It is our historical duty to support the Euro”. What she means by this, of course, is that the single currency is not based on any kind of economic reality but that it is an ideological construct designed as a façade for European political unity. Germany, as a result of its past, has no choice but to support this fiction.
Single currencies within nation states are able to exist and thrive because, despite regional differences, there are well-established structures in place to ensure that the weaker parts of a country will, to some extent, be subsidised by the stronger parts. These structures, in turn, only exist because in nation states there is a common understanding, based on historical, cultural and linguistic ties, that the people of that country share a common destiny. So, the old Deutschmark survived because there was – just about – a recognition on both sides that Eastern Germany would be propped up by Western Germany. A similar dynamic exists in the UK today whereby London supports much of the North East, not to mention Scotland.
The problem for Europe is that the EU is not a country. There is, in the words of Enoch Powell, no such thing as a European demos. This helps to explain why the above-mentioned structures have not been established across the EU. Moreover, there exists nothing to convince people across Europe, from Berlin to Athens and from Madrid to Warsaw, that their destinies as a people are entwined. That is why there is such enormous reluctance on the part of the German people to pay for what they view as Greek profligacy. Of course, Merkel and the political classes will ignore the people, just like they ignored the clear majority of Germans who were opposed to adopting the Euro in the first place. Why? Because the collapse of the Euro would sound the death knell for the dream of European political union, for the one cannot hope to exist without the other. Given that Germany, in part at least, helped to create the Euro in order to make amends for its own past, it would be unthinkable for her to allow the single currency to perish. That is what Merkel meant when she referred to her country’s historical duty to support the Euro.
To read David Vaiani’s other articles visit David Vaiani’s Politics On Toast blog. This article is (C) Politics on Toast and David Vaiani.