Paul Lachine

The Eurozone According to Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not announce her ideas for eurozone reform in a formal speech or in a statement before her peers, but instead allowed a quickly cobbled-together and telegraphic draft of a non-paper to leak. Despite consternation in Brussels and other EU capitals, the German proposals deserve serious attention.

BRUSSELS – We had almost given up waiting for them, but then they came in a quasi-clandestine form. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not announce her ideas for eurozone reform in a formal speech or in a statement before her peers. Rather, she allowed a quickly cobbled-together and telegraphic Franco-German non-paper to leak ahead of the recent meeting of European heads of state and government.

There was no shortage of outcry in other European Union capitals (because of the paper’s undiplomatic bluntness) or in Brussels (because she did not care about EU procedures and the distribution of competences). But the ideas outlined in the paper deserve serious discussion.

The initiative is, first of all, institutional. Whereas earlier, Chancellor Merkel had ruled out the old French idea of eurozone-specific governance for fear of being in a minority among Southern European countries, she has now drawn a lesson from the crisis and is proposing that eurozone countries go ahead and tighten cooperation with any others who are able and willing to join them. This is a significant step.

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