Debtor or creditor
sum, the old franco-german axis has been replaced by a berlin-frankfurt axis, which is germanising the south’s economies through austerity and structural reforms and, at the same time, is creating a new governance framework for the ez, which is essentially an extension of the german view of capitalism.
the results of both grillo and berlusconi in the recent italian elections are a good indication of the risk involved in trying to build europe against the preferences of a majority of its citizenry.
this, in turn, gave rise to large and stable markets for the core-countries’ exports.
and the process is likely to continue and deepen as austerity and reforms are the bargaining chip used by germany to accept some sort of a transfer union in the long run.
the combination of poor financial regulation and an incomplete design of the euro have led emu to the brink of collapse, forcing the ez to move forwards decisively in order to avoid catastrophe.
, germany has so far kept the negotiating agenda free of alternative proposals which would have satisfied the preferences of the mediterranean countries (france included), such as a partial mutualisation of debt (in the form of eurobonds or a redemption fund), a larger eu budget to deal with asymmetric shocks, a comprehensive growth programme at the ez level and a strategy to deal with legacy assets in the financial system.
problem, however, is that such a strategy could well backfire if citizens across europe (and especially in the southern countries) reject this new model of europe by voting for anti-european parties in their national elections.
in fact, the ez has never witnessed a process of coordinated fiscal adjustment and structural reforms as intense as the one that is currently taking place in southern europe since the beginning of the crisis in 2010.
northern solidarity paid off because the countries in the south generally behaved as expected.
in fact, the ‘community method’ has been weakened and a new asymmetric intergovernmentalism has emerged, in which a hegemonic germany sets the direction, timing, speed and scope of reforms with little or no counterweights.