Germany: a reluctant Goliath - Jonathan Freedland - 18th March, 2012

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EVERYONE agrees that the future of Europe lies in German hands. Berlin is now the de facto capital of the European Union, the place where the crucial decisions are taken. They speak about this shift in Brussels and Paris and certainly in Athens, Rome and Madrid. Everywhere in fact — except Germany.
The Germans don’t dispute the facts. They know that they alone can afford to bail out the Greeks and that everyone else in the eurozone, including France, has lost their triple-A rating. They know that it has fallen to Germany to establish the near 500 billion euros fund that will deal with future debt crises, the catchily named European Stability Mechanism that starts in July. They know that the new rules that the British prime minister David Cameron ‘vetoed’ but did not stop in December will see Germany’s 16 fellow eurozone members have their budgets checked — “their homework marked” as one Eurocrat put it — in Berlin.
If fate had played out differently, if Nicolas Sarkozy had emerged as the master of Europe, we would never hear the end of it. If Britain somehow found itself atop the European pile, its prime minister determining the political future of the continent, the British press would revel in the glory. But there is no such triumphalism in Germany. The change in fortune is barely discussed and certainly not celebrated. In the Europe of 2012, Germany stands as a reluctant Goliath. —The Guardian, London

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