Sat Sep 29th, 2012 at 02:01:08 AM EST
Thursday evening, ZDF talkshow hostess Maybrit Illner invited "the" former Chancellor (as Helmut Kohl is out of commission) Helmut Schmidt and the current president Joachim Gauck to her show. Among the most intense moments is this:
|"Warum noch an Europa glauben?" - ZDF.de|| "Why believe in Europe still?" - ZDF.de |
|Altkanzler Helmut Schmidt (SPD) hat der Bundesregierung erneut vorgeworfen, in der Europapolitik zu nationalegoistisch zu agieren. Wenn Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (CDU) anderswo in Europa mit einer Hakenkreuzbinde karikiert werde, sei das "zum Teil ihre eigene Schuld", sagte Schmidt in der ZDF-Sendung "maybrit illner". Merkel habe in der Finanzkrise "eine viel zu starke Zentralisierung der ganzen Fragenkomplexe auf ihre Person vorgenommen".||Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) has again reproached the Federal Government for acting too 'nationalegotistically' in European politics. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is caricatured elsewhere in Europe with a swastika, that is "partly her own fault," Schmidt said in the ZDF program "Maybrit Illner". [According to Schmidt], in the financial crisis Merkel has "centralized around her person the entire complex of issues."|
The linked page contains video of the entire show, and a selection of (sanitised) quotes.
ZDF has a separate 2-minute clip around that quotation (part of a longer segment starting at about 16'45" in the main video):
|Helmut Schmidt: Merkels eigene Schuld - maybrit illner - ZDFmediathek - ZDF Mediathek|| Helmut Schmidt: Merkel's own fault - Maybrit Illner - ZDFmediathek - ZDF media library |
|Maybrit Illner Helmut Schmidt, wie egoistisch, wie nationalegoistish geriert sich die Deutsche Regierung?||Maybrit Illner Helmut Schmidt, how selfish, how nationalegotistical is the German government projecting itself?|
|Hemut Schmidt Jedenfalls zu stark. Frau Merkel war daran beteiligt, als im Jahre 2008 gegen ende des Jahres, 20 Staaten der Welt sich an einen Tisch besitz haben und haben eine Reihe von vernünftigen Dingen beschlossen. Ein teil davon haben sie anschließend wieder vergessen. Von der Regulierung der Banken ist keine Rede mehr. Die war im Dezember 2008 beschlossen. Sie ist auch in Europa nicht erfolgt. Sie ist auch innerhalb der siebzehn Teinehmerstaaten des Euro nich erfolgt. Wenn Sie in den bilder gezeigt haben aus Griechenland oder aus Portugal oder aus Spanien, ich weiß nicht genau, welches Land das letzte war...||Helmut Schmidt Too strongly in any case. Frau Merkel was involved when in 2008, before the end of the year, 20 states of the world sat at a table and decided a series of reasonable things. They immediately forgot one part of it. There is no more talk of bank regulation. Which was adopted in December 2008. It has not been done in Europe. It has also not been done within the 17 member states of the Euro. When you have shown in the images from Greece or Portugal or Spain, I'm don't know for sure what country was the last...|
|Maybrit Illner Spanien ||Maybrit Illner Spain|
|Helmut SchmidtDie Tatsache, dass sie in einem europaischen Land Frau Merkel mit einer Hakenkreuzarmbinde zeigen is zum Teil ihre eigene Schuld. Sie hat eine viel zu starke Zentralisierung der ganzen Fragekomplexe auf ihre Person vorgenommen. Ich muss hier mal darauf hinweisen: bis heute hat [sic] den Deutschen Bundeshaushalt kein einziger Pfennig, kein Penny, nach Griechenland uberwiesen worden, und ein Teil des Griechischen haushalts geworden. Die Deutschen reden über die Zukunft im hohen Tonen und streiten sich. Tatsächlich haben wir noch keinen Pfennig geopfert.||Helmut Schmidt The fact that in a European country they show Merkel with a Swastika armband is partly her own fault. She has taken a much too strong centralization of the whole set of issues on her person. I must also point out here that, to date, not a single penny, not one, has been remitted from the [German] federal budget to Greece, and become part of the Greek budget. The Germans talk about the future in a high tone, and fight among themselves. In fact, we have not sacrificed one penny.|
Gauck appears visibly disturbed at one point (between 1'30" and 1'40", after Schmidt says it's "her own fault"). In the main show page he's quoted defending Merkel (this is at about 14' in the main video):
|"Warum noch an Europa glauben?" - ZDF.de|| "Why believe in Europe still?" - ZDF.de |
|Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck verteidigte dagegen den europapolitischen Kurs der Regierungschefin. Er sei überzeugt von "ihrer hohen Rationalität" und ihrem Handlungswillen. In vielen Nachbarländern Deutschlands gebe es "leitende Akteure in der Politik", die den Kurs Merkels richtig fänden. Die Kanzlerin führe die Europadebatte auch stellvertretend für andere Nationen.||President Joachim Gauck defended the Head of Government's European policy stance. He was convinced of "her high rationality" and her willingness to act. In many of Germany's neighbours there is "senior actors in politics," who find Merkel's policy correct. The Chancellor also leads the European debate on behalf of other nations.|
(Gauck says "to those who say Merkel is setting herself against the rest of Europe I say 'travel to the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Slovakia' where you will find leaders who agree with Merkel. So, literally, it's Germany's neighbours he was talking about.)
This debate - especially the bit about how Germany is "talking about the future in a high voice and infighting", recalls Ulrike Guérot's latest blog post at the ECFR: Germany in Europe: What Germany expects from France (28th September 2012)
Secondly, the Germans are wondering when France will start listening to (and answering) the German discussion about political union. Germans have understood that France is still hoping for Eurobonds - within the next five years - as French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici recently restated in London - and Germans are trying to argue that these will not be `for free' but require a different set up of European democracy.
In this respect, it was interesting to listen to Karine Berger, a member of parliament for the French Socialists, this week at a conference on European democracy and the way out of the crisis organised by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. In a panel discussion, Mme Berger stated repeatedly that she does not believe the euro has much chance of surviving if the eurozone does not ultimately enter a debt community and create Eurobonds. In essence, I agree. She said that if this does not happen, there would not be a common solution to the euro crisis. For the rest of the world, Mme. Berger continued, the currency union wouldn't exist anyway, as interests rates vary greatly again. If there is no debt community, there is no budgetary union and the euro would be finished. However, a budgetary union cannot exist without parliamentary control. Europe cannot take parliamentary control over budgets away at the national level and give it to non-parliamentary (and therefore non-democratic) institutions on the European level. So far, so good, and again I agree. But then the discussion touched on the point of the current Franco-German misunderstanding: when the moderator questioned her deeper about European parliamentary control, she answered that, indeed, the right of the EP to oversee the budget must be strengthened - but she meant the EU budget.
Germans however, are currently having a discussion on the topic and are mostly arguing that a debt community would necessitate common parliamentary control on the European level (however this might be organised), about national budgets, including, as van Rompuy's report on a genuine banking union also requests, the introduction of a `budgetary ceiling' which ought to be under European and preferably parliamentary control. This is probably also what ECB president Mario Draghi meant by the condition of `budgetary oversight' that he mentioned in his speech in Berlin this week at the Annual Conference of the German Industrial Association, BDI, though he did not provide an answer as to how this could and should be organised. Germans are having an intense discussion about how it could be organised. One idea is to create a Eurozone parliament, which would satisfy the requirements of parliamentary legitimacy and therefore qualify as a body for collective decision-making on both the discretionary spending of the Eurozone and the oversight of national budgetary ceilings. French ideas on this would be welcome, but they would need to go beyond strengthening the rights of the EP concerning its own budget.
One could uncharitably describe this as Germany "Nazionalegotistically" forging ahead with a redesign of Europe to their own specification, and wondering why nobody else is following.