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22 May, 2012 10:37

Euro stability being siphoned off?

As prices for most necessary commodities, such as fuel, rise and salaries fall, citizens of Europe’s strongest economy resort to desperate measures. In Germany truck drivers are being attacked by fuel-stealing thieves.

A full tank of the cheapest gas in that country can often cost over a hundred euro, and when it comes to big trucks – filling them up with diesel could cost up to fifteen hundred euro.RT’s Egor Piskunov, who is in Germany, reports that these trucks with huge and easily accessible fuel tanks are an easy target during pit stops.He talked to a German truck driver who says that the situation has got so bad, that even drivers themselves are being attacked. “Two weeks ago on the 24th highway heading to Hamburg, [thieves] drilled a hole in the tank,” he told RT. “But the driver noticed and confronted them. He came out and got beaten up, they even duct-taped his mouth.”Fuel prices in Germany are literally changing before drivers’ very eyes: at gas stations they leap and drop four or five times a day.The first four months of this year alone saw a 15 to 20 euro cent increase per liter. Germany is also one of the few places in Europe where you can see very generous speed limits on roads, with sometimes none altogether. But as fuel prices rise, the liberties that many German drivers are so proud of could do serious damage to their pockets. Some drivers that RT talked to expressed outright anger at the amount of money they have to pay for gas these days:“The prices are making me mad! In this day and age, when mobility is more important than ever. There's no alternative either…”“A big part of this money flows to the government – I think it's a giant rip-off!”

Situation in Iran to blame for fuel price hike

Gas prices depend on state taxes , which in Germany are among the steepest in Europe, and on the ratio of the euro to the US dollar, as contracts are signed in US currency. And, of course, oil prices themselves, which haven't been going through their most stable time. Christoph Hoerstel of Government & Business Consulting told RT that the price is also affected by the situation in the Middle East and especially around Iran. “We have all these aircraft carrier groups sailing towards the Persian Gulf. We have Israeli threats of war, we have American threats of war,” he says. “And a policy that doesn't give any hints on how we can avoid this war. So, while the Middle East uncertainty continues, oil prices remain unpredictable.” Many German drivers are already rearranging their schedules to fill up and beat the daily price blips. Even for a country that worships the wheel – it is time to "rein in" the horsepower.

‘We are not Greece!’

Germany is not the only country that has seen safety on its streets deteriorate amid the ongoing economic crisis. The situation is not critical in Germany yet, but looking at impoverished Greece experts fear that even the most stable European countries are just one step away from a similar fate. No matter how deep in denial they are.“For the moment, everyone says ‘I’m not Greek, no, I am different, no, Greece must pay and then the rest will see.’ And this isn’t a good idea,” political analyst Alessandro Politi told RT.Debt-stricken Greece is seeing rising unemployment, a fast-growing crime rate and a surge in illegal immigration. Security has substantially worsened in the Greek capital in recent years, with previously safe and calm neighborhoods becoming off-limits after nightfall.Athens City Council laments the “historic center and other major areas are suffering desertification, all manner of criminal activity and manifestations of violence, insecurity, lawlessness, the impoverishment of significant numbers of people – native inhabitants and foreign nationals, illegal prostitution and illegal drug trading." Politi says that Greece has already hit the bottom, and very soon other countries will do the same.“It’s not just working class, it’s really middle class that will be squeezed without any pity for the sake of financial interests,” he said.Youth unemployment in Greece is already soaring as high as 50 per cent, driving some to leave the country, others to protest, and a few to resort to breaking the law. Could attacks on truck drivers be the first signs of Germany going down the very same road?