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'Age-old' Schmidt damns Merkel's euro policy
Photo: DPA

'Age-old' Schmidt damns Merkel's euro policy

Published: 27 Dec 2012 13:23 GMT+01:00
Updated: 27 Dec 2012 13:23 GMT+01:00

Former chancellor and German political sage Helmut Schmidt gave his successor Angela Merkel a damning end-of-year report for her European policy on Thursday, saying it was the opinion of an "age-old man."

"What's missing is leadership," the 94-year-old Schmidt wrote in Die Zeit, the weekly newspaper he publishes. But at the same time he warned against Germany taking a dominate position in Europe. "Only the German-French tandem can take the lead in Europe," he said. "We should avoid a German leadership role!"

He said that even though he had been raised an Anglophile in Hamburg, he had realized in the early 1960s that "you can't do anything without France." Now he would also include Poland in that axiom, he said.

Schmidt also said that the only European figure whose anti-crisis policy had been successful in 2012 was Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), whose decision to buy up government bonds from troubled European countries had been "relatively inflation-free."

"All the German fear-mongering about impending inflation was superfluous," Schmidt wrote. Merkel, meanwhile, had mainly worked on putting off uncomfortable truths until after the general election in autumn 2013, he added.

Schmidt also threw his weight behind the European Union project, saying all Europeans had a "moral duty" towards solidarity - which he said was the original motive behind the creation of the political bloc. "Today our solidarity with the people of Greece is just as necessary as it was then," he wrote, before quoting Social Democratic Party politician Julius Leber, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Third Reich: "The will to power must grow out of the duty to the community."

"But the duties to the European community will need a much greater contribution from all participants in the future," he wrote.

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Your comments about this article

14:07 December 27, 2012 by smart2012
What to say: they sound my words :)

Wise German man
15:18 December 27, 2012 by michael4096
Ah! But, would he also name himself after the world's ugliest motorcar?
16:27 December 27, 2012 by raandy
He is correct about the German -French tandem. No one in the EU wants to see Germany dominate it but it could come to this.

Actually Mrs Merkel has sided with Mario Draghi going against Weidmann,which now has committed Germany to rescue the Euro. Mario Draghi said that the ECB will buy Gov. bonds with a 3 year maturity as long as they can reach an agreement with the ESFS and then these Nations have to put themselves under the Troika for supervision. The continuation of the Euro looks reasonably assured, But, now we are going to have creditor and debtor divisions in the EU with the creditors dictating to the debtors ,which will not be easy for many EU members to accept.

Germany has placed herself as the savior of the Euro, she will either have to take the lead or leave.
17:26 December 27, 2012 by smart2012
Raandy, yours is fanta-politic. Draghi, monti and holland pushed for the agreement. German buba didn't agree. Verkel missed the agenda..
18:38 December 27, 2012 by Englishted
@ michael4096 :-) nice one.

Wise words indeed ,shame he is not younger .
19:02 December 27, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Very true and he is not the first prominant German politician who has critised Dr. Merkyl and Mr. Hyde. From her own party Helmut Kohl also had plenty of critism of her.
19:09 December 27, 2012 by neunElf
Yes, lets spare no German's money to keep the failed Schmidt/Giscard vision on life support!
19:31 December 27, 2012 by Tonne
Schmidt's view of a France - Germany - Poland axis makes sense geographicallly, politically and (once Poland joins the Euro-zone) economically, but I'm not sure of his view that you can't do anything without France.

In the past, France has been only too keen to use its veto to safeguard French interests, without any consideration of European solidarity or of budget restraint. Now that the EU is moving eastwards, perhaps it is time to dispense with the caravan train between Strasbourg and Brussels and move everything to Brussels.
19:54 December 27, 2012 by sonriete
With the EU moving eastward, what is the logic of moving everything to the far west of the continent in Brussels?

Perhaps Vienna would be more geographically and culturally appropriate, especially if Ukraine ever joins.
20:44 December 27, 2012 by Tonne
@sonriete you are right, there is no logic; my comment was too loosely written.

Perhaps I should have written that with the enlargement of the EU, the influence of any one country is diminishing and it makes no economic sense to assuage the pride of a single country by maintaining a separation of the Parliament and the Commission. If Brussells is accepted as the political and administrative centre of the EU, then it makes sense that all parts of it, including the European Parliament, should be permanently situated there.

At some time in the future, it may be considered politic to move the Commission and Parliament and their administrative machinery to a more central location. But I think that that is very much in the future.
07:07 December 28, 2012 by raandy
@ smart2012 We obviously read different view points and articles,Iam not on a witch hunt like you

In a fast-moving situation, significant changes have occurred since this article went to press. On August 1, as I write below, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann objected to the assertion by Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, that the ECB will ¦quot;do whatever it takes to preserve the euro as a stable currency.¦quot; Weidmann emphasized the statutory limitation on the powers of the ECB. Since this article was published, however, it has become clear that Chancellor Merkel has sided with Draghi, leaving Weidmann isolated on the board of the ECB.
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