Dr Oliver Hartwich is again spot on in his analysis of the state of the European Union and in putting the blame on the failed German chancellor Angela Merkel:
On multiple fronts the EU as an institution, as a project and as a promise is under simultaneous attack. But unlike in previous times, the result will not be an EU rising like phoenix from the ashes. It will either be the end of the EU or at least the end of the EU as we know it.
Despite its costs in the hundreds of billions, the euro crisis has not derailed the EU just yet. The continent’s monetary, fiscal and banking problems have not been solved, of course. However, they were sufficiently abstract not to cause widespread popular unrest. Plus, by administering some ECB alchemy, they can at least be put on hold for a while.
With the refugee crisis engulfing Europe it is different. More than a million migrants entering the EU mainly via Greece and Italy cannot be ignored, put on hold or inflated away. They have to be dealt with. They are visible. And they are posing serious questions to the way the EU and each individual member state regard themselves. --
The only hope for Merkel to politically survive this situation is also the least likely. She needs to find a European agreement to jointly deal with the crisis. This is not going to happen if EU members cannot even relocate more than 331 refugees.
Merkel also needs help from Turkey in stopping the flow — and last week’s Turkish-German consultations did not suggest that this was going to happen anytime soon. Finally, Merkel needs Greece to protect its sea border with Turkey. Again, you would not want to hold your breath.
Even professional EU optimists like Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, are sounding increasingly desperate. They are both on the record warning of an existential crisis to the EU — and they are right.
The problem is no-one knows what would follow the failure of the EU. All we know is that there is little time left to avert the collapse of this institution.
And while all of this is happening, the United Kingdom is flirting with an exit from the EU, the new Polish government is experimenting with a new form of authoritarianism, and in Portugal the conservatives have failed to form a government despite their better-than-expected showing in last year’s elections.
Politically and economically, Europe is burning. And the one person who deserves more blame than anyone else for the sorry state of the continent is the same who is regularly seen as the ‘most powerful woman in the world’ or Time’s ‘person of the year’: Angela Merkel.
Merkel’s unwillingness to confront the failings of the monetary union despite an insistence on internal devaluation has destabilised Greece and is also responsible for the rise of extremist and populist parties across Europe. Her unilateralism on refugees is dividing the EU and has given rise to Eastern European nationalists. In her own country, her failed euro policies and her naive migration recipes are burdening taxpayers for generations to come.
Merkel may not politically survive the disaster she has created — and that would be well deserved. The collateral damage of her failing would be a Europe that sees the resurrection of nationalism, borders and political extremism. And it would be the end of the EU as we knew it.