Angela Merkel is on her way out – and so is her vision for the EU

Angela Merkel is on her way out – and so is her vision for the EU, by Douglas Murray.

She was there to settle disputes, authorise bailouts, offer German help to struggling nations and protect the project as it led to ever-closer union. Whatever else can be said of it, with Merkel at the helm at least the EU appeared to have direction. Not anymore. …

The Merkel project had created a EU that had unachievable ambitions, seeking to govern countries with long histories of independence, and was fundamentally un-European in that it sought to impose uniformity upon the most gloriously diverse set of countries on earth. …

It is easy to see why they have tried to move against her. Merkel’s great selling point — her rock-like immovability — had become an obstacle, being seen as intransigence in a Europe that badly needed to change. Indeed, that immovability turned out to be disastrous before both challenges that Europe had to respond to during Merkel’s reign: the financial crisis, and the wave of demographic change. …

The immovable ‘Mutti’ (as the Germans used to fondly call her) … oversaw a system that imposed sado-austerity on southern Europe, left the eurozone ill-prepared for the next crisis, and set the stage for events that would lead to her own downfall.

German unemployment now stands at a historic low of under 5 per cent. In Italy, by contrast, it’s 10 per cent, a decade after the slump — and an appalling 31 per cent among the youth, far higher than the 19 per cent at which it stood before the crash. The fiscal straitjacket that Merkel forced upon the Italians (imposed by bureaucrats whom she and Brussels had in turn imposed on the Italian public) helped create an entire generation of Italians who started their lives with no chance of work. And who were receptive to new political parties who would point to a whole new way of doing things. …

What may have felt like burden-sharing in Berlin felt very different in Athens and Rome. And now the political consequences of this have finally led back towards their instigator.

Merkel smiles for dominant immigrant

But the mistake which was to prove the turning point for her chancellorship, and the European project, was the migration crisis. At its peak, in 2015, Merkel showed not only her immovability, but a unilateralism which was staggering. Throughout that period, Merkel seemed to think that she had the right to continue making decisions on behalf of an entire continent. When she unilaterally announced the suspension of normal border and asylum procedures in August that year, inviting refugees to Germany and declaring ‘We can do this’, she consulted few of her counterparts and listened to the warnings of none. …

Overnight, Merkel turned from a force of stability into a wild gambler with her country’s future. And in election after election, the rest of Europe began to pull away from her. The Hungarians were at first the most vocal. But Berlin, like Brussels, could cope with the souring of relations with the Visegrad countries, condescending to them as trainee Europeans who had not quite grasped how things are done. This narrative was harder to sustain once Britain voted to leave the EU. It became impossible once Italy, a founding member state, started heading in another direction. …

The same is true in Greece and Poland, where things are turning ugly. Politicians there are once again trying one of their favourite extortion tricks — the Polish President and MPs from Syriza in Greece once again taking up the subject of second world war reparations. …

A cross-party report from Greece, meanwhile, says that Germany owes Greece €299 billion for the occupation. One has to admire the uncommon restraint the Greeks have shown in not rounding up that bill.

Merkel has no kids, and no clue. And an ex-communist to boot. What could possibly go wrong?

hat-tip Stephen Neil