On the occasion when the German polity decided to turn nasty in their desperate attempts to paper over the cracks of the rapidly dis-integrating European project, it is worth remembering a few truths about the whole dastardly story.
Volker Kauder’s intemperate outburst at the CDU conference reveals an unpleasantness whose novelty conceals a revisionist approach to recent European history. It was the Maastricht Treaty which made the single currency an inevitability, but, from the outset, Britain determined – through John Major’s negotiating skills and superior judgement – that her interests did not lie in participating in the effort. Those European Union Member States who proceeded chose to manipulate the rules to ensure that those whose economic policies did not justify their involvement were part of the ‘big tent’: as one of the Eurozone’s strongest economic players, it is the Germans that have benefited the most from the strait-jacket which has prevented the Eurozone’s relatively weaker players from adjusting their currencies to achieve greater competitiveness.
Britain has been an important player in her own continent: but the concept of flexible geometry articulated by John Major in the 1990s – exemplified by the opt-outs which were negotiated at Maastricht (some of which were lightly surrendered by Tony Blair) – is still not understood amongst German politicians. They are not to be blamed for trying to optimise the interests of their own population – but they should not resent those others who seek to do the same. And, given the over-domination and reliance of the Eurozone on Germany for its very survival, serious questions must be asked across the entire continent about what the real cost of this failed grand political vision will end up being. That would be a much more productive subject for Herr Kauder to contemplate as his party wrestles with the horrors of the mess that the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis delivers on a daily basis.