Forget just crossing the Rubicon — that legendary Italian river that Julius Caesar crossed to start the Great Roman Civil War. Angela Merkel is doing it in grand style, hopscotching like a blithe and agile schoolgirl over a point of no return. Consider this from Reuters:
Greece must surrender control of its budget policy to outside institutions if it cannot implement reforms attached to euro zone rescue measures, the German economy minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Be it in politics, religion, or the corporate world — nothing counts as much as the power of the purse. If this happened it would be a huge usurpation of Greece’s sovereignty. And these are not just the statements of some rogue cabinet member. The Financial Times was actually the first to break this story late Friday and claims that it has actually seen a German proposal to appoint a “budget commissioner” who would have the power to veto Greece’s national budget. The FT says that Athens “would also have to adopt a law permanently committing state revenues to debt service ‘first and foremost.’” All of this would be a condition to Greece’s receiving the next bailout package of €130 million. Simply unheard of.
And as if that weren’t enough, Merkel’s CDU party announced yesterday that “the CDU chairwoman, Chancellor Angela Merkel, will actively support Nicolas Sarkozy with joint appearances in the election campaign in the spring.”
While it’s not uncommon for European political leaders to support other leaders of similar stripes in their bid for re-election, it’s usually confined to generic statements in answer to press questions. But Merkel will go so far as to actually hit the campaign trail with Sarkozy? Again, this level of European interference in modern times is unheard of.
Will Germany continue to push the envelope? Will the Greeks resist their heavy-handed tactics? Will Merkel’s support for Sarkozy backfire and give an advantage to his socialist opponent, François Hollande? How far is Germany willing to reach its United States of Europe, and will Europeans really stand for this? Perhaps George Soros is not being overly dramatic when he warns of a possible European descent into chaos and conflict.
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Image credit: liangjinjian on Flickr