BERLIN – Finally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has accepted a new form of European Union. More than ever, the EU must combine greater stability, financial transfers, and mutual solidarity if the entire European project is to be prevented from collapsing under the weight of the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis.
For a long time, Merkel fought this new EU tooth and nail, because she knows how unpopular it is in Germany – and thus how politically dangerous it is to her electoral prospects. She wanted to defend the euro, but not to pay the price for doing so. That dream is at an end, thanks to the financial markets.
The markets issued an ultimatum to Europe: either embrace more economic and financial integration on a federal basis, or face the collapse of the euro and thus the EU, including the Common Market. At the last moment, Merkel chose the sensible option.
Had the European Council’s heads of state and government taken this foreseeable decision a year ago, the euro crisis would not have escalated to the extent that it has, the total bill would have been lower, and European leaders would have been rightly praised for a historic feat. But, as I said, back then Merkel did not dare to act.