Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Franco-German axis loses its wheels

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk through the Impasse Pierre Guerin, in Paris Photo: EPA

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has swooped into Berlin to secure a “clear, clean and precise response” from Chancellor Angela Merkel to the dramatic crisis engulfing the eurozone. He is unlikely to get one.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
8:55PM BST 20 Jul 2011

French and German leaders typically meet on the eve of crucial EU summits to reach a pact that can be imposed as a fait accompli on their peers. In doing so, they reinforce the Franco-German axis that has been the driving force of Europe’s Project, and leverage their combined power. But this time the chemistry is particularly sulphurous.

The Chancellor has not disguised her irritation at being bounced into a summit that she never wanted, and which looks to many Germans like an attempt to ensnare the country in an EU fiscal union and limitless bail-outs.

Germany is still transfering €60bn (£53bn) annually to East Germany 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. No German parliament can agree to any EU formula that might implicitly entail the same ruinous obligation towards non-German countries with eight times the population.

Few dispute that Europe faces extreme danger as the bond markets of Italy and Spain start to buckle. “Nobody should be under any illusion: The situation is very serious”, said Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso. “It requires a response, otherwise the negative consequences will be felt in all corners of Europe and beyond.”
Article posted here

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