Yves Bertoncini interviewed in To Vima about the role of Germany in the EU
Yves Bertoncini, our director, is interviewed about the role of Germany in the European Union in the Greek daily To Vima, 19 July 2015: Εκφράζει η Γερμανία την ευρωπαϊκή.
An English translation of the Yves Bertoncini's answer is avalaible below:
To Vima : Do you think that Germany can live up to its leading role in Europe today and serve the purpose of a European Union of solidarity and mutual understanding? Has Germany, in your opinion, alienated or even scared off other EU member states with its stance towards Greece and if yes, what could this mean for EU’s future?
Yves Bertoncini : Playing a leading role to match its economic and political weight is a global challenge for Germany, especially in diplomatic and military matters, where it has long been reluctant to take proactive stances – the leader on these issues is rather France.
On the economic and financial front, Germany exerts a de facto leadership, on the basis of a specific vision of the solidarity/responsibility balance: there is a clear focus on rule compliance and national competitiveness. Germany’s influence is all the greater given the positive results of the country’s economic policies, especially when compared to those of France or Greece.
In the ongoing crisis, Wolfgang Schaüble appears to have taken a tough stance that does not exclude the possibility of a “Grexit” because, in his view, the limits of Germany’s solidarity, understanding, and trust have been reached. Angela Merkel finally decided, along with France, to adopt a compromise that rejects “Grexit” and grants more solidarity to Greece, on the basis of very harsh conditions and even preconditions.
In Germany and other EU member states, there are at least two perceptions of such a position: either it is described as a sign of radicalism and imperialism towards Greece and the Euro Area countries in general; or it is seen as a balanced position when compared with the more radical ones favored in countries like Finland, Latvia or Slovakia.
A kind of “story telling competition” has been launched between these two opposing interpretations: if the former will certainly prevail in Greece and in some other EU countries, there will be a need to carefully monitor, including via opinion polls, in how many countries such position could be dominant. The outcome of this “competition” will no doubt determine whether and to what extent the EU’s future will be shaped by Germany’s leadership and allies or by Germany’s opponents and a growing “German-scepticism”.