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The German Chancellor is hosting the leaders of France and Italy this week for talks on the ongoing debt crisis in the Eurozone. The German capital Berlin is increasingly seen as the new beating heart of Europe, the place where the decisions on the debt crisis are ultimately taken.
Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse. At a time when much of the Eurozone is in recession, growth is this export-driven nation is continuing. And it’s increasingly seen as the EU’s political master
Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Institute Europe said: “The original balance of power that was created in Europe after the Second World War is not there any more. First of all Europe has more countries, which makes the larger countries relatively less important, But you also have a Germany now that is not only larger than everybody else but also has managed its economy well, as opposed to everyone else in Europe and that gives Germany most power almost by default.”
Charles Grant, director of Center for European Reform said: “What’s changed over the last couple of years in that now we only have one leader- Germany. Germany has emerged as the preeminent country in Europe.”
Germany’s clout has grown as the Eurozone debt crisis has deepened. it’s paying the lions share of the bail out money for Greece, Ireland and Portugal and stands to lose the most if Italy and Spain also need rescuing.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is increasingly playing hard ball. She pushed for new governments to be put in charge in Athens and Rome, and has demanded teutonic fiscal discipline from her European partners
Grant said: “Other countries, not just France are worried about this because they think the German views on Europe may not be the right views to solve the crisis. The Germans are obsessed with fiscal austerity, cutting public deficit, setting up new rules to constrain government spending. But that’s not solving the problem its probably aking the problem worse. Countries in southern Europe who are cutting their deficits cannot actually grow.
And here in Germany, many are running out of patience with their profligate southern neighbors.
Herribert Mich said: “Countries like Greece, or even Portugal, when they don’t play by the rules, they should be kicked out.”
Heinz Bosmans said: “There’s an old German saying, "He who pays for the music, gets to decide what is played."
Europe’s leaders have been under fire for not getting a grip on the Eurozone’s debt crisis. Germany is now belatedly, taking charge - albeit reluctantly.
Techau said: “They say "oh, Germany can dominate Europe from some kind of Berlin diktat" but that’s not the case. The Germans are very reluctant to embrace this kind of leadership. The Germans have lost the appetite for European integration, they don’t want to put the money on the table and they don’t want the responsibility that comes with strength and leadership. They are very reluctant to embrace all of this.”
Reporter: “Chancellor Angela Merkel is hosting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Italian leader Mario Monti here this week for talks on the eurozone debt crisis. It says a lot that these high-level meetings are happening Berlin and not in Brussels. Ultimately, no decisions agreed here can go through without the approval of all 17 eurozone countries. But whoever holds the purse strings has the most say, and much of the decisions to fight the crisis will be determined by Berlin - whether others like it or not.”