UK, Germany vie for influence in debt-hit EU
Following their talks, the two politicians urged decisive action to help stabilize the eurozone. None of the key issues upon which they disagree were mentioned.
As austerity measures in Italy and Greece are accompanied by changes in the countries’ governments, Merkel calls for more integration in the eurozone.
Though she has declared readiness to give up some sovereignty, this is seen by some British MPs as an attempt to have more control over the continent.
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has warned of a “German-dominated Europe” speaking at a European Parliament debate.
“None of you have any democratic legitimacy for the roles you hold,” Farage reminded the Members of Parliament, comparing them to hyenas for their common role in the taking down of Papandreou. “Into this vacuum, albeit reluctantly, in steps Angela Merkel, and we are now living in a German-dominated Europe, something this European Union was supposed to stop.”
Cameron, contrary to Merkel, is pushing for less integration, eying the UK taking powers back from Brussels to achieve more economic and political flexibility.
While members of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party have repeatedly attacked Britain for its lack of support of Europe, British MP’s declare their unwillingness to live in a German-dominated Europe.
The controversial “Robin Hood” financial transactions tax remains the main economic stumbling block.
It threatens London’s position of a major financial center, so the British are reluctant to accept it.
CDU’s leader Volker Kauder was very vocal in his criticism of the UK for opposing the move, blaming it for defending its own interests only.
Another source of tension is the role of the European Central bank. The British and the French want to lend money as a last resort. Merkel expects that to involve printing money and inflation, which scares the Germans.
Some British media went as far as to write of certain “leaked German documents”, which talk about a secret plan to create a whole new economic order in the center of Europe.
Journalist and author Alan Woods told RT that in his view, the whole experience of the recent crisis demonstrates the impossibility of unifying economies which are pulling in radically different directions.
“They [the leaders] come out smiling, they agree there is a need to do something. But when it comes down to concrete proposals on what is to be done, there is no agreement at all – there is sharp disagreement, particularly between Germany and Britain, but I would say also among other European countries. These tensions are not going to get any better – they will get worse.”