BERLIN – “What’s the matter with Germany?,” people on both sides of the Atlantic are asking with increasing frequency. In Berlin, however, nobody seems to understand the question.
Doubts about Germany’s role have much to do with the current economic and financial crisis, and also with the weakness of the European Union and its institutions. Ever since the referendum failures of both the European constitution and the Lisbon treaty, the EU has been flying on autopilot, run by its bureaucrats. With 27 members and no reform of its institutions and procedures, EU processes have become harrowingly inefficient.
Crises are also always moments of truth, because they relentlessly expose both the strengths and weaknesses of all the players involved. For that reason, Europe now requires leadership not from a weak EU Commission or from any other European institutions, but from the capitals of its major member countries.
As always, when serious economic and financial matters are at stake, people look to Germany, the EU’s largest economy. But what they see confounds them, because Germany is openly refusing to lead.