German tax payers will not pay other people’s debt. This is in substance what the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the Frankfurter Algemeine Sonntagszeitung, June 3, when she said there could be no “union of the debt.” The comment was in response to news out of Italy that the new ‘populist’ coalition wants the European Central Bank to forgive 250 billion euros in Italian debt. The problem is, when you forgive debt, someone has to pay, and in Europe, that someone is Germany; the only EU country whose economy is strong enough to prop up the euro.
Europe is taking off its gloves and lashing out at the US president in unusually strong language, and, in this case, the EU has the support of its population. The question is can the EU muster the muscle to face down an aggressive US?
“With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Donald Tusk, European Council President, May 16.
by S.G. Kazolias: President Emmanuel Macron campaigned to put an end to what he called “Social Dumping” —- the practice of temporarily hiring workers from poorer EU countries at the minimum wage and paying their much lower social security in their home country. On March 1, EU delegates in Brussels agreed to revise the 1996 accord allowing this. But getting all EU countries to agree may be harder.
When the then 12 EU members approved the 1996 ‘Posted Workers’ directive, labor costs between the different countries was one to three. As the EU enlarged to 28 with the former Soviet Block countries, that differential became one to ten and employers took advantage of it. Skilled labor was brought in from countries like Bulgaria, Romania and Poland at a fraction of the cost.
Migrants continue to make their way to Europe and Europeans are showing their discontent more and more at the ballot boxes. Yet, many in Europe still argue more are welcome. The European experiment of integrating those from other cultures is a failure and more will make matters worse.
The French presidential elections to be held in two-rounds on April 23 and May 7 are unlike any France has seen since the Fifth Republic Constitution went into effect in 1959. And if polls are right, the winner of the second round will have a hostile majority in Parliament. France may well become ungovernable. If France slips into anarchy, it could well take the European Union down with it.
Tübingen, Germany: When German comedian, Jan Böhmermann, did a satirical sketch on state run ZDF TV this month, accusing the Turkish president of “repressing minorities, kicking Kurds and slapping Christians” as well as suggesting he has “sex with sheep and goats,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan went ballistic and called for the satirist to be prosecuted under a little known German defamation law. The row has opened a Pandora’s box of troubles for German Chancellor Angela Merkel: should the law be scrapped; how far does free speech and satire go; what grip does the Turkish president have around the Chancellor’s throat?