Camouflage and Deception

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - Using a deceptive strategy, Berlin seeks to ward off the French President-elect François Hollande's demand to put an end to the German austerity dictate. Other heads of EU member nations have begun to demand alongside Hollande that the EU return to credit financed stimulus programs, to prevent the complete collapse of several national economies, such as Greece is now confronting. Since the demise of the coalition government in the Netherlands, Berlin has found itself rather isolated and, alongside declarations of not allowing the EU zone to budge from its current austerity course, is resorting to methods to create confusion within the rebelling populations. The government is keeping "a placebo for the Euro partners" on hand, explains the press. The chancellor will most likely adopt some of the terminology used by François Hollande, but with her own interpretations. For example, she will speak of "promotion of growth," while meaning the imposition of "structural reforms," as envisaged by the austerity dictates. No new expenditures are planned. This is how the French growth offensive will be verbally ensnared, without having ceded an inch on the essence.

Unsuccessful Boycott

Up to the second round of last Sunday's French presidential elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had refused - against diplomatic customs - to even receive the French Socialist candidate, François Hollande. With other heads of European states, Merkel even organized a European boycott of the French challenger - because his demands for a change of course in the European crisis policy was seen in Berlin as a threat to German predominance over the EU. Now, President Hollande will visit Berlin immediately following his inauguration May 15 - and the chancellor will have no other choice than to welcome the newly elected head of state with "open arms," as Merkel immediately reassured.

We, in Germany

But in questions of crisis policy, Berlin intends to remain as hard as nails. Shortly following Hollande's electoral victory, the German chancellor ruled out all willingness to compromise on the Fiscal Stability Treaty signed in late 2011, institutionalizing at European level the German austerity policy. "We, in Germany, and I, personally believe that the Fiscal Stability Treaty is not up for renegotiations."[1] Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble seconded the Chancellor saying, in reference to the French President-elect, that Europe, up to now, had "done well with the treaty," (...) "finalized treaties cannot be renegotiated every time there is an election." Schäuble announces he will also "convince the new French president and the government."

Europe: "Bottomless Pit"

A close friend of the chancellor, Norbert Röttgen, the CDU top candidate entering the last lap of the regional legislative election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia, openly reverted to the increasingly aggressive chauvinism of his electorate, when he insinuated that the French head of state was only out to get the German's money. "But, we are not going to use the German taxpayers money to pay for Hollande's electoral promises," said Röttgen literally. In the regional legislative elections this Sunday, the people of North Rhine-Westphalia can decide with their vote for Angela Merkel's party "whether the chancellor should hold onto the money, or whether in Europe, it should disappear into a bottomless pit."[2] However, the CDU top candidate passed over in silence that it is the German account surpluses in regards to the other European countries - which have grown to more than 800 billion Euros (german-foreign-policy.com reported [3]) - that have been essentially contributing to German wealth, on the one hand, and to the debts of numerous Euro countries, on the other.

Instinct of Self-Preservation

German politicians and their media, however, are aware of Berlin's current isolation on questions of crisis policy. "Merkel is fighting alone," remarked, for example, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.[4] "Following the collapse of the government in the Netherlands," Berlin has "hardly any remaining allies" for its austerity policy. Berlin's Europe-wide austerity dictate is pushing a growing number of countries into recession. This recession, with the accompanying tax losses and increased expenditures in the social sector, will render the self-imposed budgetary consolidation impossible. A growing number of Euro countries are threatened with a crisis spiral of catastrophic dimension, like in Greece, which Berlin has literally forced into economic collapse. Following their instincts of economic self-preservation, countries in a recession, such as Spain, Italy, Ireland and even the Netherlands, have no other choice, but to put into question the German Fiscal Stability Treaty. Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi were advocating an end to the austerity dictates and a return to credit-financed stimulus programs already in late April.[5]

A New Growth Policy

Shortly after French elections, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti appeared to close ranks with Hollande, when, during their first telephone call, he assured the newly elected French President of close cooperation aimed “at an increasingly efficient and growth-oriented union.”[6] Confronted with a deepening recession, Rome is already openly demanding a change of policy toward debt-financed stimulus programs: "The results of the elections in France and Greece impose a reflection on European policies," declared the Italian head of government in a first reaction to the French elections.[7] The conservative Spanish Prime Minster Mariano Rajoy also sent positive signals to Hollande, from his crisis ridden country, emphasizing that austerity programs and the promotion of growth are not contradictory: "Both concepts are completely compatible." Copenhagen stated flatly that Hollande's electoral victory increases the chances for a policy oriented on growth and the creation of jobs.

Placebo for Hollande

German Chancellor Merkel would like to break out of Germany's current isolation in the Euro zone with fake concessions, by adopting the French President-elect's terminology, while applying her own interpretation - according to the motto "camouflage and deception." Merkel will administer "a placebo to the Euro partners," headlined the business press a few days ago. When the Chancellor speaks of "growth promotion," like Holland, she - unlike Holland - is seeking the imposition of "structural reforms" and not at all credit-financed stimulus programs. Merkel literally declares: "We need growth in the form of sustainable initiatives and not only stimulus programs, which will increase the national debts."[8] A columnist of the "Handelsblatt" recently explained how such "initiatives" aimed at taking the vigor out of the "uprising against the German austerity dictate," could look: "Tie all the currently existing elements into a package; apply them more efficiently and declare this a 'growth package' or already a Marshall Plan."[9] This new growth package should not cost anything nor increase debts, otherwise it would lead to "even higher budget deficits." The "financial markets" would lose "confidence" and Merkel "her face."

Further reports and background information to the Euro Crisis can be found here: The Germanization of Europe, From the Crisis, Into the Crisis, Europe, the German Way (II), Now German will be Spoken, An Imperial System, Berlin's European Recession and Impoverishment Made in Germany.

[1] Ganz Europa will nicht mehr sparen? Merkel ist das egal; www.welt.de 08.05.2012
[2] Röttgen poltert gegen Frankreich; www.handelsblatt.com 08.05.2012
[3] s. dazu Die deutsche Transferunion
[4] Merkel kämpft allein; www.faz.net 08.05.2012
[5] Tomasz Konicz: Gegen deutsches Diktat; www.jungewelt.de 02.05.2012
[6] Monti und Hollande wollen eng auf Wachstum hinarbeiten; www.focus.de 07.05.2012
[7] Hollande erhält positive Signale von Monti und Cameron; www.drs.ch 07.05.2012
[8] Merkels Placebo für die Euro-Partner; www.handelsblatt.com 30.04.2012. See also Under German Leadership (II)
[9] Aufstand gegen das deutsche Spardiktat; www.handelsblatt.com 07.05.2012