Merkel battered as Germans lose faith in EU

After bailing out Greece and now the euro, Germany is fed up with being Europe’s paymaster

Germans are proud of working for global brand names such as manufacturing firms such as Mercedes-Benz and are outraged that Angela Merkel is giving taxpayers’ money to a country with little industrial output

The Sunday Times [UK]

…The multi-billion-euro payout for Greece, followed by an even more expensive rescue package for the threatened single currency, has created the greatest political climate change in a generation.

Suddenly Germans are asking questions about the European project that has been the bedrock of their politics for 60 years, leaving Angela Merkel, the chancellor, under fire from the electorate, the opposition and her own party.

It took a stand-up display of table-banging aggression from President Nicolas Sarkozy and an intervention on the telephone from President Barack Obama to get Merkel to agree to the euro package.

“We foot the bill for EU disaster,” screamed a headline in Bild, the tabloid newspaper. Christoph Schmidt, a government economist, responded by warning: “Germany cannot become Europe’s paymaster.”

The tension between Germany and France threatened to spill over at a Brussels summit last weekend when Merkel and Sarkozy had a furious row. According to observers, it ended with Sarkozy threatening to leave the euro…

…There is now a pervasive awareness in Germany that the post-war consensus of subsuming its national identity — and national self-interest — in the “common European house” no longer gets a popular rubber stamp.

“We give millions to countries where they have big annual pay rises, perks for civil servants and soaring pensions. I’ll have to work to 67 for a pension that might not be enough,” complained Ulrike Daunheim, a 38-year-old shop assistant and Bild reader.

“Greece has no industry worthy of the name, makes no products with prospects on a global scale and carries out no research to discover any,” was the verdict of the left-liberal Der Spiegel news magazine…

The entire article is at The Sunday Times.

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