Monday, 24 June 2013

German Europe by Ulrich Beck

This is a succinct and very thought provoking essay looking at the current and short to medium term future of the EU from a largely German perspective and that makes it particularly fascinating.

Beck expertly describes a Europe that is seeing Germany becoming increasingly central to it not just economically, but politically too. This is a role taken up by the Germans in many ways reluctantly but there is a schizophrenia to their approach as of course nothing- particularly where it concerns Europe- is ever simple.

One of the key aspects of the German approach that hadn't occurred to me before and to which I am grateful to this book for highlighting, is the fact that Germany is in fact using it's own re-unification template- when an impoverished and 'errant' European state [the GDR] was absorbed and put back on its feet through sound 'Bundesbank' logic- as one to apply to the indebted and almost bankrupt southern states of the EU. Germany clearly sees the same treatment will bring them into line. The fact that these nations are much bigger, more diverse and- obviously- not German, seems to be escaping consideration in their neoliberal socio-economic strategies.

This is all of course compounded by Merkel being the consummate example of the 21st century phenomenon of talking a lot but doing nothing- importantly not through indecision though, but through a deliberate policy of political inertia. This is perhaps one of the most fascinating political developments in western politics as a whole- the concept of on the surface pleasing everyone all of the time and underneath just doing nothing- and this great little book crystallises that phenomenon very successfully.

So if you want an up-to-date snapshot of the current state of affairs in the EU, this is well worth a read.

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