When political and media leaders in Germany complain about the suspicion and apprehension their country is now greeted with in many parts of Europe perhaps they should bear in mind this article from Der Spiegel on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plans for the future of the European Union:
“Angela Merkel’s domestic policy in her third term will likely be confined to higher spending. But she has grand plans for Europe. SPIEGEL has learned she wants Brussels to have far more power over national budgets. It’s a risky move that EU partners and the Social Democrats are likely to oppose.
In the past, Merkel has treated governing primarily as repair work. The major issues of her first two terms in office, the financial crisis and the fight to save the euro, were suitable for that approach. Will that change, now that she has the necessary power and means? Hardly at all, when it comes to Germany. There are no major reforms in the works at government ministries, and the grand coalition will focus on increasing spending to fulfil some of the parties’ campaign promises.
In contrast, officials at the Chancellery are forging plans for Europe that are practically visionary for someone like Merkel. If she prevails, they will fundamentally change the European Union. The goal is to achieve extensive, communal control of national budgets, of public borrowing in the 28 EU capitals and of national plans to boost competitiveness and implement social reforms. The hope is that these measures will ensure the long-term stability of the euro and steer member states onto a common economic and fiscal path. This would be the oft-invoked and ambitious political completion of Europe’s monetary union — a huge achievement.
It isn’t a new goal, but what is new is the thumbscrews Brussels will be allowed to apply if Merkel has her way, including sooner and sharper controls and veto rights, as well as contractually binding agreements and requirements. In short, this would amount to a true reconstruction of the euro zone and a major step in the direction of an “economic government” of the sort the SPD too would like to see put in place.
Germany’s current economic strength helps to explain these visions for Europe, since stricter budget controls wouldn’t pose a threat to Berlin at the moment.”
There doesn’t seem to be much room for democracy, accountability and national self-determination in that German vision of the EU. Outside of Germany itself that is.