Comment | The exception of Germany: it will be stronger in Europe


The coronavirus highlighted Europe’s fragility – said Angela Merkel before the German parliament discussing the European Council on the Recovery Fund. What the German Chancellor did not say and could not say for opportunities that in this fragility there is a country that is an exception and that this is Germany. Which is moving out of the first phase of the pandemic much better than France, Italy, Spain and even post-Brexit Britain. The usual Germans, one can think. In reality, the health and economic management of lockdowns destined to change European relations and dynamics. Whether reluctant Berlin wants it or not, whether other capitals accept it or not, the Europe of the future will be significantly more German.

Berlin has not only better contained the virus and limited the number of deaths, it is not only supporting the economy more effectively: it also took on a leadership role when Merkel pioneered the EU Commission’s Recovery Fund. He did so by taking over Emmanuel Macron’s approach but with it he produced a turning point in the dominant paradigm up to that moment, a turning point that only Germany could produce: the pooling of resources to overcome the crisis in a historical passage that is changing the balances of the world. It is the biggest challenge in the history of Europe – Merkel said before the Bundestag – and how Europe faces this pandemic compared to other regions of the world will determine the prosperity of European citizens and the role of Europe in the world “.

At the moment, about 9,000 deaths from coronaviruses in Germany (out of 84 million inhabitants). In France, almost 30 thousand, in Italy almost 35 thousand, in Spain more than 28 thousand; on significantly less populations. A comparative study by Oxford Economics on how the four major economies of the EU are responding to the crisis came to the conclusion that there will be an unequal recovery, at two speeds and, based on the quantity and quality of the stimuli launched by the governments of Berlin and the 16 Lnder, Germany will emerge from the pandemic with a strengthened economy compared to the rest of the continent. Not that the country’s old problems have disappeared: the crisis in the auto sector remains profound, the service sector is not very competitive, finance and banks are limping. Nonetheless, Germany is at the center of European affairs as it has never been since 1945.

NDespite the recent outbreak in North Rhine Westphalia, it has shown governance in the management of the health crisis like few other countries. It has regained some political stability, with Merkel’s Christian Democrats returning strong in the polls. He demonstrated, if needed, that his model of zero deficit and public debt under decisive control to have counter-cyclical budgetary spaces in times of crisis. It is consolidating its hegemony in Northern European countries, which will somehow accept the Recovery Fund; in those of the East, which will be kept close through the 2021-2027 budget of the EU; in the Mediterranean ones thanks to the European aid intended for them and to the fact that the value production chains, within which Italy has an important role, tend to have an increasing heart in Germany. In addition, the axis with Paris has consolidated.

Not only. Among the major countries in the world, Germany is probably the one that comes out the worst from the crisis: better than the United States with its internal inconsistencies and international absence, better than China that the world holds responsible for the pandemic; better than India and Brazil (perhaps only Japan, among the big ones, can boast results similar to the German ones but in a very different chessboard). Germany’s strong global reputation reverberates over power relations in the EU.

The new European balance that is being formed changes the political outlook for all capitals and for all the chancelleries. Even Rome, as seen in these days perhaps above all Rome, will have to elaborate it.

June 28, 2020, 11:01 pm – change June 28, 2020 | 23:02

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