Europe’s paymaster is on a budget

While the Euro­zone is fac­ing the most severe cri­sis since the found­ing of the Eco­nom­ic and Mon­e­tary Union (EMU), the eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion in Ger­many seems to be recov­er­ing faster than expect­ed. The newest esti­ma­tions of the expect­ed Gross Domes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) growth vary between 1.9 per­cent and 2.3 per­cent for 2010.11Deutsche Presseagen­tur: Min­is­ter Brüder­le: Wach­s­tum­sprog­nose ange­hoben, 24 July 2010, avail­able at: http://www.focus.de/finanzen/news/konjunktur-minister-bruederle-wachstumsprognose-angehoben_aid_533845.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Experts expect the num­ber of employ­ees on short time work to decrease until the end of 2010 and the total unem­ploy­ment to drop to the low­est lev­el since 1991. Any­way, due to the costs of the eco­nom­ic stim­u­lus pro­grammes and decreased tax rev­enues, the Ger­man par­lia­ment, the Deutsche Bun­destag, agreed to finance 80.2 bil­lion Euros of the 2010 fed­er­al bud­get by rev­enue obtained by the bor­row­ing of funds. This is the largest rev­enue obtained by the bor­row­ing of funds in the his­to­ry of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic of Ger­many.22Deutsch­er Bun­destag: Höch­ste Neu­ver­schul­dung, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2010/28966884_kw11_sp_hh_finanzen/index.html (last access: 28 July 2010). To fight the steadi­ly increas­ing nation­al debt, “lim­its of bor­row­ing” were intro­duced into arti­cle 115 of the Ger­man basic law. Accord­ing to this arti­cle, the “rev­enue obtained by the bor­row­ing of funds [may] not exceed 0.35 per­cent in rela­tion to the nom­i­nal gross domes­tic prod­uct.” To com­ply with arti­cle 115 of the basic law, which enters into force on 1 Jan­u­ary 2011, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agreed on an aus­ter­i­ty pro­gramme for the next four years. Oppo­si­tion par­ties and labour unions crit­i­cised the aus­ter­i­ty pro­gramme as being too bur­den­some for peo­ple with low and mid­dle incomes, while wealth­i­er peo­ple hard­ly con­tributed.33David Cross­land: Merkel’s Aus­ter­i­ty Pro­gram Is ‘Faint-Heart­ed and Unbal­anced’, SpiegelOn­line, 8 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699416,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010). The Ger­man debate on Euro­pean eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy and the Euro cri­sis has to be judged against this background.

Government coalition did not stand up against populist debate

In Ger­many the pub­lished opin­ion on the Greek finan­cial pack­age had a quite pop­ulist under­tone. Wal­ter Wül­len­we­ber wrote in the mag­a­zine Der Stern a let­ter of com­plaint to Greece. He blamed the Greek peo­ple for spend­ing Ger­man mon­ey. Fur­ther­more, he under­lined that the only rea­son to res­cue Greece is that in a Greek bank­rupt­cy Ger­man banks would loose 30 bil­lion Euros.44Wal­ter Wül­len­we­ber: Beschw­erde­brief nach Griechen­land: „Streng genom­men seid Ihr pleite“, Der Stern 8/2010, avail­able at: http://www.stern.de/wirtschaft/geld/beschwerdebrief-nach-griechenland-streng-genommen-seid-ihr-pleite-1548605.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Even some politi­cians from the gov­ern­ing Chris­t­ian Democ­rats (CDU) voiced pop­ulist ideas: the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MP) Josef Schlar­mann pro­posed that Greece could sell its islands to pay its debts.55Bild.de: Verkauft doch eure Inseln, ihr Pleite-Griechen. … und die Akropo­lis gle­ich mit!, 4 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bild.de/BILD/politik/wirtschaft/2010/03/04/pleite-griechen/regierung-athen-sparen-verkauft-inseln-pleite-akropolis.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Caus­ing ten­sions between the Ger­man and Greek gov­ern­ment, these blind­fold ideas were not the core prob­lem. Nei­ther the oppo­si­tion par­ties nor the gov­ern­ment clear­ly argued against this pop­ulism. Renate Künast, leader of the Green fac­tion in Ger­man par­lia­ment, asks, where was Ms Merkel? Why did she not say: “Not this way!”66Deutsch­er Bun­destag. Stenografis­ch­er Bericht 41. Sitzung. Berlin, Fre­itag, den 7. Mai 2010, Ple­narpro­tokoll 17/41, pp. 3998 (D)-3999 (A), avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/17/17041.pdf (last access: 18 July 2010). One inter­pre­ta­tion was that the gov­ern­ment coali­tion was afraid to lose the region­al elec­tions in North Rhine-West­phalia.77The Chris­t­ian Democ­rats became the largest fac­tion in the region­al par­lia­ment, but were not able to from a government.

But the votes in the Ger­man par­lia­ment, the Deutsch­er Bun­destag, on the so called Währung­sunion-Finanzsta­bil­itäts­ge­setz88Geset­zen­twurf der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP Entwurf eines Geset­zes zur Über­nahme von Gewährleis­tun­gen im Rah­men eines europäis­chen Sta­bil­isierungsmech­a­nis­mus, Bun­destags­druck­sache 17/1685, avail­able at: http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/016/1701685.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010); Beschlussempfehlung des Haushalt­sauss­chuss­es (8. Auss­chuss) zu dem Geset­zen­twurf der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP – Druck­sache 17/1685 –, Bun­destags­druck­sache 17/1740, avail­able at: http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/017/1701740.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010). make obvi­ous that none of the two large par­ties (CDU and Social Democ­rats – SPD) took a clear stance on the finan­cial help for Greece: 391 MPs vot­ed for the law, 72 MPs were against the law, while 139 abstained from the vote. From the gov­ern­ment coali­tion of the CDU, the Chris­t­ian Social Union (CSU) and the Free Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (FDP), which had ini­ti­at­ed the law, five MPs vot­ed against the law. From the oppo­si­tion SPD four MPs vot­ed for the law while the oth­ers abstained from the vote. The SPD fac­tion decid­ed to abstain, because the coali­tion gov­ern­ment was not will­ing to vote for a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for the intro­duc­tion of a finan­cial trans­ac­tion tax.99Entschließungsantrag der Frak­tion der SPD zu der drit­ten Beratung des Geset­zen­twurfs der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP – Druck­sachen 17/1544, 17/1561, 17/1562 –, Bun­destags­druck­sache Druck­sache 17/1639, avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/016/1701639.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010). From the oth­er two oppo­si­tion par­ties, the Greens (Bünd­nis 90/Die Grü­nen) vot­ed for the finan­cial pack­age,1010Five Green MPs abstained from the vote, too. while the left-wing par­ty Die Linke vot­ed against it.1111Deutsch­er Bun­destag. Stenografis­ch­er Bericht 41. Sitzung. Berlin, Fre­itag, den 7. Mai 2010, Ple­narpro­tokoll 17/41, pp. 4019 (B)-4022 ©, avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/17/17041.pdf (last access: 18 July 2010). Four SPD MPs crit­i­cised their par­ty indi­rect­ly: e.g., Eva Högel rea­soned that she had to vote for the pack­age agreed on, because there is no alter­na­tive to this solu­tion and that it is nec­es­sary to send a sig­nal of sol­i­dar­i­ty to Greece.1212Ibid., pp. 4105 (A)-4105©.

Anoth­er type of crit­i­cism is the con­sti­tu­tion­al chal­lenge to the Euro­pean sta­bil­i­sa­tion mech­a­nism cur­rent­ly hang­ing on at the fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al court in Karl­sruhe.1313SpiegelOn­line: Is the Res­cue Pack­age Con­sti­tu­tion­al? Ger­man High Court Con­sid­ers Euro Bailout, 8 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699471,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Most promi­nent­ly Peter Gauweil­er, CSU MP, who already filed a suit against the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty in Ger­many, chal­lenges the mech­a­nism as not being in line with the Euro­pean pri­ma­ry law.1414Peter Gauweil­er: Presseerk­lärung, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.peter-gauweiler.de/pdf/PM_EURO-Stabilitaetsgesetz.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010). The fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al court has not final­ly decid­ed on the case, but refused to issue a tem­po­rary injec­tion on the Ger­man parliament’s agree­ment to the mech­a­nism.1515Daryl Lind­sey: Ger­man Judges Reject Request to Block Aid. High Court Refus­es to Issue Injunc­tion on Euro Bailout, 10 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699986,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010). What will be inter­est­ing dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings is the ques­tion, whether the Ger­man fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al court will fol­low its path, start­ed by its deci­sion on the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Lis­bon Treaty, to empow­er itself to decide on Euro­pean law or not. Already in May 2010 the Ger­man fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al court refused to issue a tem­po­rary injec­tion on the first finan­cial help grant­ed to Greece. A group of pro­fes­sors, who had appealed to the Ger­man fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al court in 1998 to stop the intro­duc­tion of the com­mon cur­ren­cy in 1999,1616Julian Plot­t­ka: The debate calmed down, in: Insti­tut für Europäis­che Poli­tik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 7, Sep­tem­ber 2008, Berlin 2008, p. 223–229, avail­able at: http://www.EU-27Watch.org/?q=node/396 (last access: 28 July 2010). argued the finan­cial pack­age con­flicts with the prin­ci­pal of the wel­fare state (arti­cle 20 basic law) and trans­forms the Euro­pean Union into a fed­er­al state.1717Rein­hard Müller: Karl­sruhe weist Eilantrag ab, faz.net, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub3ADB8A210E754E748F42960CC7349BDF/Doc~E13A0CF201AEC486FAFF87E501B87A5FB~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 28 July 2010).

Too late to help?

The eval­u­a­tion of the deci­sion mak­ing process is made on two lev­els. On a more gen­er­al and the­o­ret­i­cal lev­el the trade off between out­put and input legit­i­ma­cy is dis­cussed. On a more con­crete lev­el the direct impli­ca­tions for the Euro­zone are eval­u­at­ed. On the the­o­ret­i­cal lev­el it is argued that the bar­gain­ing in Brus­sels and the par­lia­men­tary deci­sions lat­er on take too much time to react to inter­na­tion­al finan­cial markets.

Faster deci­sions are need­ed to give clear sig­nals to the mar­kets.1818Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273. On the oth­er hand, the time pres­sure on the Ger­man par­lia­ment was crit­i­cised: were the MPs able to delib­er­ate and decide on the pack­age for Greece and the Euro­pean sta­bil­i­sa­tion mech­a­nism or did they just do what the gov­ern­ment told them?1919Christoph Seils: Wie sich der Bun­destag selb­st ent­machtet, Tagesspiegel, 3 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/wie-sich-der-bundestag-selbst-entmachtet/1813170.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Fur­ther­more a debate on the unbal­anced rep­re­sen­ta­tion of con­sumers’ inter­ests and the inter­ests of actors on the finan­cial mar­ket start­ed.2020Kat­ja Pink/Thilo Bode: Die Finanzkrise als Demokratiekrise. Der Staat als Dien­stleis­ter des Finanzkap­i­tals, in: Blät­ter für deutsche und inter­na­tionale Poli­tik, 6/2010, Seite 45–55. Some Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (MEP), among them the Ger­man Green MEP Sven Giegold, start­ed a “call for a finance watch”. They try to cre­ate a con­sumers’ rights organ­i­sa­tion with exper­tise in the field of finan­cial mar­ket reg­u­la­tion to counter bal­ance the influ­ence of the finan­cial mar­ket actors on the deci­sion-mak­ing process­es.2121Call for a finance watch, avail­able at: http://www.finance-watch.org/ (last access: 28 July 2010).

Dur­ing the first half of 2010, the lead­er­ship of Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel was crit­i­cised in gen­er­al: dur­ing quar­rels between the three par­ties of the gov­ern­ment coali­tion, the debate on the aus­ter­i­ty pro­gramme, and a near­ly failed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, many com­men­ta­tors missed Merkel’s lead­er­ship.2222Christoph Schwen­nicke: The Lim­its of Merkel’s Lead­er­ship, Spiegel Oni­line, 1 July 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany That Merkel had to give up her posi­tion that the Union will not take any com­mon mea­sures to help Greece, but that every­thing had to be done on a bilat­er­al basis dur­ing the nego­ti­a­tions on 9 May 2010, was regard­ed as a fur­ther sign of the decline of her lead­er­ship. Wern­er Mus­sler illus­trat­ed this by describ­ing how Merkel left through the back door while French Pres­i­dent Nico­las Sarkozy declared to jour­nal­ists that the reached agree­ment con­tained 95 per­cent French ideas.2323Wern­er Mus­sler: Das End­spiel um den Euro, 9 May 2010, faz.net, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub3ADB8A210E754E748F42960CC7349BDF/Doc~E3DC798FEFC444D6F9E552AC27AC09CF5~ATpl~Ecommon~Sspezial.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Fur­ther­more, crit­i­cism has been voiced with regard to the prepa­ra­tions by the fed­er­al chan­cellery for the nego­ti­a­tions on the Euro­pean lev­el that all pos­si­ble eco­nom­ic sce­nar­ios have not been tak­en into account.2424Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273, here p. 267. Dur­ing the elec­toral cam­paign to the region­al elec­tions, the SPD par­ty leader, Sig­mar Gabriel, accused Chan­cel­lor Merkel of lying to the vot­ers. Gabriel pre­sent­ed her as an iron lady expect­ing reforms from the Greek gov­ern­ment before nego­ti­a­tions on finan­cial help start, while the Fed­er­al Min­is­ter for Finance Wolf­gang Schäu­ble was already nego­ti­at­ing the finan­cial pack­age. Hans-Wern­er Sinn, head of the ifo insti­tute Munich, agreed with the Chancellor’s hes­i­tant strat­e­gy to with­hold finan­cial help until Greece agreed on an inter­nal aus­ter­i­ty pro­gramme. Accord­ing to him, the finan­cial help is the only pres­sure to force the Greek gov­ern­ment to save mon­ey.2525Finan­cial Times Deutsch­land: Union und SPD prügeln sich wegen Hil­fe für Athen, 28 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ftd.de/politik/:vor-nrw-wahl-union-und-spd-pruegeln-sich-wegen-hilfe-fuer-athen/50106870.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Oth­er econ­o­mists crit­i­cised this strat­e­gy because it does not give a clear sig­nal to the finan­cial mar­ket that Europe is will­ing to sup­port Greece.2626Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273.

Lesson learned, but clear cut concepts still missing

On 6 May 2010 the French Pres­i­dent and the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor declared in a com­mon let­ter: “The next thing we have to do is strength­en eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy coor­di­na­tion in the Euro­zone.”2727Presse- und Infor­ma­tion­samt der Bun­desregierung: Gemein­samer Brief von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel und dem franzö­sis­chen Präsi­den­ten Sarkozy an die Präsi­den­ten des Europäis­chen Rates und der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion, 6 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Pressemitteilungen/BPA/2010/05/2010–05-06-brief-merkel-sarkozy.html (last access: 28 July 2010). Thus the Ger­man gov­ern­ment does not reject the idea of “Euro­pean eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance” in gen­er­al any­more. But as the agreed word­ing “coop­er­a­tion” indi­cates that this clos­er coop­er­a­tion in the field of Euro­pean eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy does not refer to the pol­i­cy of “dirigisme” often asso­ci­at­ed with the French idea of “Euro­pean eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance”. The oppo­si­tion, e.g., the Green par­ty, is in favour of the idea of Euro­pean eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance and called on Chan­cel­lor Merkel to not block this deep­en­ing of Euro­pean inte­gra­tion in March 2010.2828Bünd­nis 90/Die Grü­nen, Bun­destags­frak­tion: Eurokrise durch koor­dinierte Wirtschaft­spoli­tik lösen, press release, 19 Mach 2010, avail­able at: http://gruene-bundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/332/332991.eurokrise_durch_koordinierte_wirtschafts.html (last access: 28 July 2010). The Social Democ­rats are in favour of it, too, but put a spe­cial empha­sis on the com­ple­men­ta­tion of the Euro­pean eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance by a coor­di­na­tion of social poli­cies.2929Sozialdemokratis­che Partei Deutsch­lands: SPD und PS fordern stärkere wirtschafts- und sozialpoli­tis­che Koor­dinierung in der Europäis­chen Union, presse release, 16 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spd.de/de/aktuell/pressemitteilungen/2010/06/SPD-und-PS-fordern-staerkere-wirtschafts–und-sozialpolitische-Koordinierung-in-der-Europaeischen-Union.html (last access: 28 July 2010). But nei­ther the gov­ern­ment nor the oppo­si­tion par­ties have yet pre­sent­ed a clear-cut con­cept on what they under­stand to be increased coop­er­a­tion in Euro­pean eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy. For the oppo­si­tion par­ties it is much eas­i­er to present ideas, as they do not have to face the oth­er heads of state and gov­ern­ment dur­ing the nego­ti­a­tions on Euro­pean poli­cies. Thus, the SPD togeth­er with the Par­ty of Euro­pean Social­ists (PES) pro­posed ideas rang­ing from the har­mon­i­sa­tion of tax pol­i­cy to intro­duc­ing a min­i­mum wage in Europe.3030Ibid.

The Ger­man fed­er­al gov­ern­ment ful­ly sup­ports the reform of the Sta­bil­i­ty and Growth Pact (SGP).3131Presse- und Infor­ma­tion­samt der Bun­desregierung: Gemein­samer Brief von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel und dem franzö­sis­chen Präsi­den­ten Sarkozy an die Präsi­den­ten des Europäis­chen Rates und der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion, 6 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Pressemitteilungen/BPA/2010/05/2010–05-06-brief-merkel-sarkozy.html (last access: 28 July 2010). The Fed­er­al Min­is­ter of Finance, Wolf­gang Schäu­ble, plans to dis­cuss the fol­low­ing nine points in the task force on eco­nom­ic gov­er­nance: 1) tight­en­ing bud­getary con­trol; 2) improv­ing bud­get dis­ci­pline in the Euro­zone; 3) intro­duc­ing lim­its of bor­row­ing on the nation­al lev­el (like arti­cle 115 of the Ger­man basic law); 4) tem­porar­i­ly freez­ing struc­tur­al funds for states not com­ply­ing with the rules of the SGP; 5) intro­duc­ing oblig­a­tory midterm bud­get objec­tives for states with debts high­er than 60 per­cent of GDP; 6) sus­pen­sion of the vot­ing rights of states vio­lat­ing the rules of the SGP; 7) dis­cussing aber­ra­tion in terms of eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment more open­ly; 8) mon­i­tor­ing of eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy in the mem­ber states could be more trans­par­ent and include pos­si­ble sanc­tions; 9) a per­ma­nent sta­bil­i­sa­tion mech­a­nism to cope with crises, which includes a pro­ce­dure for state insol­ven­cies.3232Finanzmin­is­teri­um: Neue europäis­che Task Force. Eck­punk­te der Bun­desregierung zur Stärkung der Euro­zone, 21 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/lang_DE/nn_1270/DE/Wirtschaft__und__Verwaltung/Europa/Der__Euro/20100520-Task-Force.html (last access: 28 July 2010).

Some of these ideas are heav­i­ly con­test­ed. For exam­ple the Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic min­is­ters from the Ger­man Län­der were against the lim­its of bor­row­ing in arti­cle 115 of the Ger­man basic law, as they saw the bud­get right of the region­al par­lia­ments vio­lat­ed,3333Tageszeitung: Ralf Steg­n­er gegen Schulden­bremse. „Par­la­mente wer­den ent­machtet“, 27 March 2009, avail­able at: http://www.taz.de/1/politik/deutschland/artikel/1/parlamente-werden-entmachtet/ (last access: 28 July 2010). and the labour unions and the par­ty Die Linke saw the abil­i­ty of politi­cians to act decreas­ing.3434Uli Schnip­pels: Uli Schip­pels zur so genan­nten „Schulden­bremse“: „Wir brauchen Investi­tio­nen in die Zukun­ft statt finanzielle Demon­tage.“, presse release, 5 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.linksfraktion-sh.de/nc/presse/detail/artikel/die-linke-fordert-waas-zur-aussage-im-untersuchungsausschuss-auf-waas-muss-farbe-bekennen‑1/ (last access 28 July 2010). Thus it seems to be unlike­ly that nation­al par­lia­ments all over Europe will accept such a lim­i­ta­tion of their bud­get right. A sec­ond issue heav­i­ly debat­ed in Ger­many is the ques­tion of intro­duc­ing a finan­cial trans­ac­tion tax. The Social Democ­rats strong­ly sup­port the intro­duc­tion of a finan­cial trans­ac­tion tax. Togeth­er with the Aus­tri­an Social Democ­rats, the SPD even planed to ini­ti­ate a Euro­pean Cit­i­zens’ Ini­tia­tive on that issue.3535Sozialdemokratis­che Partei Deutsch­lands: Speku­la­tion­ss­teuer: SPD und SPÖ für Europäis­che Bürg­erini­tia­tive, presse release, 18 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spd.de/de/aktuell/nachrichten/2010/05/Spekulationssteuer-SPD-und-SPOe-fuer-Europaeische-Buergerinitiative.html (last access: 28 May 2010). After the oppo­si­tion par­ties and the gov­ern­ment coali­tion could not agree on a word­ing to intro­duce the finan­cial trans­ac­tion tax in the so called (mon­e­tary union finan­cial sta­bil­i­sa­tion law), as men­tioned before, the coali­tion par­ties con­vinced Chan­cel­lor Merkel to sup­port such a type of tax on the glob­al lev­el.3636Bun­deskan­zler­amt: Regierungserk­lärung von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel zu den Euro-Sta­bil­isierungs­maß­nah­men, 19 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Regierungserklaerung/2010/2010–05-19-merkel-erklaerung-eu-stabilisierungsmassnahmen.html (last access: 28 July 2010).

Europe 2020 Strategy: implementation will become crucial

Com­pared to the debate on the cri­sis the Euro­zone is fac­ing at present, the Europe 2020 Strat­e­gy is hard­ly dis­cussed in Ger­many. Chan­cel­lor Merkel received some atten­tion by crit­i­cis­ing the draft ver­sion of the Strat­e­gy. Her major points of crit­i­cism were the high num­ber of tar­gets, the plan to intro­duce coun­try spe­cif­ic objec­tives, and the close link of the Strategy’s eco­nom­ic tar­gets to com­pli­ance with the require­ments of the SGP. Accord­ing to a let­ter Merkel wrote to José Manuel Barosso, these steps “would make fis­cal sur­veil­lance ‘unnec­es­sar­i­ly polit­i­cal’”, as the media report­ed.3737Eurac­tive: Merkel crit­i­cis­es ‘Europe 2020’ strat­e­gy, 2 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/priorities/merkel-criticises-europe-2020-strategy-news-299825 (last access: 28 July 2010). But the over­all assess­ment of the renewed strat­e­gy by the Ger­man fed­er­al gov­ern­ment was pos­i­tive. Non-gov­ern­men­tal organ­i­sa­tions, such as the Europa Union Deutsch­land, debat­ed the major fail­ures of the old Lis­bon Strat­e­gy: the unsolved com­pli­ance prob­lem and the too nar­row focus on growth and inter­na­tion­al com­pet­i­tive­ness.3838Eva Högl: Forderun­gen an „Europa 2020“ – Ein Überblick, in: Europa 2020 — eine kri­tis­che Bew­er­tung der neuen EU-Strate­gie, EUD-konkret 3/2010, pp. 5–7, avail­able at: http://www.europa-union.de/fileadmin/files_eud/PDF-Dateien_EUD/EUD_konkret/EUD-konkret_3.2010_Europa_2020.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010). The Umbrel­la Organ­i­sa­tion of Ger­man Indus­try (BDI) and the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man Employ­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tions (BDA) con­trar­i­ly point out that growth and inter­na­tion­al com­pet­i­tive­ness are not self-suf­fi­cient but are the basis for social progress; how­ev­er, they agree that the Lis­bon Strat­e­gy failed to achieve its main objec­tives and that the ques­tion of com­pli­ance to the tar­gets of the Europe 2020 Strat­e­gy will be cru­cial for its suc­cess.3939Bun­desver­band der Deutschen Industrie/Bundesverband der Deutschen Arbeit­ge­berver­bände: BDI/B­DA-Stel­lung­nahme zur öffentlichen Kon­sul­ta­tion der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion zur „EU 2020“-Strategie, 12 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bdi.eu/images_content/EuropaUndBruessel/BDA_BDI_Stellungnahme_EU_2020_Konsultation.pdf (last acess: 28 July 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Deutsche Presseagen­tur: Min­is­ter Brüder­le: Wach­s­tum­sprog­nose ange­hoben, 24 July 2010, avail­able at: http://www.focus.de/finanzen/news/konjunktur-minister-bruederle-wachstumsprognose-angehoben_aid_533845.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 2Deutsch­er Bun­destag: Höch­ste Neu­ver­schul­dung, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.bundestag.de/dokumente/textarchiv/2010/28966884_kw11_sp_hh_finanzen/index.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 3David Cross­land: Merkel’s Aus­ter­i­ty Pro­gram Is ‘Faint-Heart­ed and Unbal­anced’, SpiegelOn­line, 8 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699416,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 4Wal­ter Wül­len­we­ber: Beschw­erde­brief nach Griechen­land: „Streng genom­men seid Ihr pleite“, Der Stern 8/2010, avail­able at: http://www.stern.de/wirtschaft/geld/beschwerdebrief-nach-griechenland-streng-genommen-seid-ihr-pleite-1548605.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 5Bild.de: Verkauft doch eure Inseln, ihr Pleite-Griechen. … und die Akropo­lis gle­ich mit!, 4 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bild.de/BILD/politik/wirtschaft/2010/03/04/pleite-griechen/regierung-athen-sparen-verkauft-inseln-pleite-akropolis.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 6Deutsch­er Bun­destag. Stenografis­ch­er Bericht 41. Sitzung. Berlin, Fre­itag, den 7. Mai 2010, Ple­narpro­tokoll 17/41, pp. 3998 (D)-3999 (A), avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/17/17041.pdf (last access: 18 July 2010).
  • 7The Chris­t­ian Democ­rats became the largest fac­tion in the region­al par­lia­ment, but were not able to from a government.
  • 8Geset­zen­twurf der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP Entwurf eines Geset­zes zur Über­nahme von Gewährleis­tun­gen im Rah­men eines europäis­chen Sta­bil­isierungsmech­a­nis­mus, Bun­destags­druck­sache 17/1685, avail­able at: http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/016/1701685.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010); Beschlussempfehlung des Haushalt­sauss­chuss­es (8. Auss­chuss) zu dem Geset­zen­twurf der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP – Druck­sache 17/1685 –, Bun­destags­druck­sache 17/1740, avail­able at: http://dipbt.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/017/1701740.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 9Entschließungsantrag der Frak­tion der SPD zu der drit­ten Beratung des Geset­zen­twurfs der Frak­tio­nen der CDU/CSU und FDP – Druck­sachen 17/1544, 17/1561, 17/1562 –, Bun­destags­druck­sache Druck­sache 17/1639, avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/17/016/1701639.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 10Five Green MPs abstained from the vote, too.
  • 11Deutsch­er Bun­destag. Stenografis­ch­er Bericht 41. Sitzung. Berlin, Fre­itag, den 7. Mai 2010, Ple­narpro­tokoll 17/41, pp. 4019 (B)-4022 ©, avail­able at: http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btp/17/17041.pdf (last access: 18 July 2010).
  • 12Ibid., pp. 4105 (A)-4105©.
  • 13SpiegelOn­line: Is the Res­cue Pack­age Con­sti­tu­tion­al? Ger­man High Court Con­sid­ers Euro Bailout, 8 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699471,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 14Peter Gauweil­er: Presseerk­lärung, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.peter-gauweiler.de/pdf/PM_EURO-Stabilitaetsgesetz.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 15Daryl Lind­sey: Ger­man Judges Reject Request to Block Aid. High Court Refus­es to Issue Injunc­tion on Euro Bailout, 10 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,699986,00.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 16Julian Plot­t­ka: The debate calmed down, in: Insti­tut für Europäis­che Poli­tik (ed.): EU-27 Watch, No. 7, Sep­tem­ber 2008, Berlin 2008, p. 223–229, avail­able at: http://www.EU-27Watch.org/?q=node/396 (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 17Rein­hard Müller: Karl­sruhe weist Eilantrag ab, faz.net, with­out date, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub3ADB8A210E754E748F42960CC7349BDF/Doc~E13A0CF201AEC486FAFF87E501B87A5FB~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 18Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273.
  • 19Christoph Seils: Wie sich der Bun­destag selb­st ent­machtet, Tagesspiegel, 3 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/meinung/wie-sich-der-bundestag-selbst-entmachtet/1813170.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 20Kat­ja Pink/Thilo Bode: Die Finanzkrise als Demokratiekrise. Der Staat als Dien­stleis­ter des Finanzkap­i­tals, in: Blät­ter für deutsche und inter­na­tionale Poli­tik, 6/2010, Seite 45–55.
  • 21Call for a finance watch, avail­able at: http://www.finance-watch.org/ (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 22Christoph Schwen­nicke: The Lim­its of Merkel’s Lead­er­ship, Spiegel Oni­line, 1 July 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany
  • 23Wern­er Mus­sler: Das End­spiel um den Euro, 9 May 2010, faz.net, avail­able at: http://www.faz.net/s/Rub3ADB8A210E754E748F42960CC7349BDF/Doc~E3DC798FEFC444D6F9E552AC27AC09CF5~ATpl~Ecommon~Sspezial.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 24Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273, here p. 267.
  • 25Finan­cial Times Deutsch­land: Union und SPD prügeln sich wegen Hil­fe für Athen, 28 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.ftd.de/politik/:vor-nrw-wahl-union-und-spd-pruegeln-sich-wegen-hilfe-fuer-athen/50106870.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 26Paul J.J. Welfens: Von der Griechen­land­krise zum Zer­fall der Euro­zone?, in: inte­gra­tion 3/2010, pp. 264–273.
  • 27Presse- und Infor­ma­tion­samt der Bun­desregierung: Gemein­samer Brief von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel und dem franzö­sis­chen Präsi­den­ten Sarkozy an die Präsi­den­ten des Europäis­chen Rates und der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion, 6 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Pressemitteilungen/BPA/2010/05/2010–05-06-brief-merkel-sarkozy.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 28Bünd­nis 90/Die Grü­nen, Bun­destags­frak­tion: Eurokrise durch koor­dinierte Wirtschaft­spoli­tik lösen, press release, 19 Mach 2010, avail­able at: http://gruene-bundestag.de/cms/presse/dok/332/332991.eurokrise_durch_koordinierte_wirtschafts.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 29Sozialdemokratis­che Partei Deutsch­lands: SPD und PS fordern stärkere wirtschafts- und sozialpoli­tis­che Koor­dinierung in der Europäis­chen Union, presse release, 16 June 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spd.de/de/aktuell/pressemitteilungen/2010/06/SPD-und-PS-fordern-staerkere-wirtschafts–und-sozialpolitische-Koordinierung-in-der-Europaeischen-Union.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 30Ibid.
  • 31Presse- und Infor­ma­tion­samt der Bun­desregierung: Gemein­samer Brief von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel und dem franzö­sis­chen Präsi­den­ten Sarkozy an die Präsi­den­ten des Europäis­chen Rates und der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion, 6 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Pressemitteilungen/BPA/2010/05/2010–05-06-brief-merkel-sarkozy.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 32Finanzmin­is­teri­um: Neue europäis­che Task Force. Eck­punk­te der Bun­desregierung zur Stärkung der Euro­zone, 21 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/lang_DE/nn_1270/DE/Wirtschaft__und__Verwaltung/Europa/Der__Euro/20100520-Task-Force.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 33Tageszeitung: Ralf Steg­n­er gegen Schulden­bremse. „Par­la­mente wer­den ent­machtet“, 27 March 2009, avail­able at: http://www.taz.de/1/politik/deutschland/artikel/1/parlamente-werden-entmachtet/ (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 34Uli Schnip­pels: Uli Schip­pels zur so genan­nten „Schulden­bremse“: „Wir brauchen Investi­tio­nen in die Zukun­ft statt finanzielle Demon­tage.“, presse release, 5 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.linksfraktion-sh.de/nc/presse/detail/artikel/die-linke-fordert-waas-zur-aussage-im-untersuchungsausschuss-auf-waas-muss-farbe-bekennen‑1/ (last access 28 July 2010).
  • 35Sozialdemokratis­che Partei Deutsch­lands: Speku­la­tion­ss­teuer: SPD und SPÖ für Europäis­che Bürg­erini­tia­tive, presse release, 18 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.spd.de/de/aktuell/nachrichten/2010/05/Spekulationssteuer-SPD-und-SPOe-fuer-Europaeische-Buergerinitiative.html (last access: 28 May 2010).
  • 36Bun­deskan­zler­amt: Regierungserk­lärung von Bun­deskan­z­lerin Merkel zu den Euro-Sta­bil­isierungs­maß­nah­men, 19 May 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Regierungserklaerung/2010/2010–05-19-merkel-erklaerung-eu-stabilisierungsmassnahmen.html (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 37Eurac­tive: Merkel crit­i­cis­es ‘Europe 2020’ strat­e­gy, 2 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.euractiv.com/en/priorities/merkel-criticises-europe-2020-strategy-news-299825 (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 38Eva Högl: Forderun­gen an „Europa 2020“ – Ein Überblick, in: Europa 2020 — eine kri­tis­che Bew­er­tung der neuen EU-Strate­gie, EUD-konkret 3/2010, pp. 5–7, avail­able at: http://www.europa-union.de/fileadmin/files_eud/PDF-Dateien_EUD/EUD_konkret/EUD-konkret_3.2010_Europa_2020.pdf (last access: 28 July 2010).
  • 39Bun­desver­band der Deutschen Industrie/Bundesverband der Deutschen Arbeit­ge­berver­bände: BDI/B­DA-Stel­lung­nahme zur öffentlichen Kon­sul­ta­tion der Europäis­chen Kom­mis­sion zur „EU 2020“-Strategie, 12 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.bdi.eu/images_content/EuropaUndBruessel/BDA_BDI_Stellungnahme_EU_2020_Konsultation.pdf (last acess: 28 July 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.