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2/21/17

Germany: Is Wolfgang Schäuble As Dangerous To The EU As Donald Trump? - by John Palmer

President Donald Trump is widely seen by allies of the United States as posing a potentially serious threat to the cohesion of the NATO alliance and – more broadly – to the post-Second World War global economic, political and security system. The European Union, fearful of the rise of right-wing populism and nationalism across the Atlantic, rightly insists it will meet both this challenge (and the disruption caused by the UK’s prospective Brexit) by strengthening its cohesion and effectiveness.

The EU, however, faces another, equally dangerous challenge but this time one from within its own ranks. The primary source of this threat is, moreover, to be found in Germany – the country which, more than any other, has shouldered the main responsibility for giving enlightened leadership to the long process of European democratisation and unification over many decades.

Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister and the Ayatollah of current EU austerity doctrine, may seem an unlikely candidate for comparison to Trump. He has a distinguished record in German politics over decades for his advocacy of greater economic and political European integration.

He is also a man who has shown impressive courage and resilience in recovering from a terrorist life-threatening assassination attempt. But his long, unchallenged hegemony over government economic strategy in the EU’s German economic powerhouse now risks igniting another, potentially lethal, phase of instability in the Euro area single currency system.

It remains to be seen whether reports of another looming crisis in relations between Greece and its Euro area creditors will prove quite as terminal as some suggest. It may be that the reported “showdown” will – once again – be deferred to another day. Greece may continue to be drip fed financial loans to prevent outright collapse – but without tackling the crisis at root.

Read more: Is Wolfgang Schäuble As Dangerous To The EU As Donald Trump?

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