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Angela Merkel is Destroying Europe

They are calling her the devil, arguing that the German Chancellor’s rigid austerity measures are crippling any chance of economic recovery. But are the southern European countries scapegoating Germany when it’s their own fiscal profligacy that got them into their current predicament in the first place?

They’re calling her the devil. Inflammatory words, no doubt, but Europe has every reason to be livid with the German Chancellor. Angela Merkel is causing needless pain and hardship across Europe, its southern states in particular. The austerity measures she insists that nations like Greece and Portugal adopt are strangling their economies, creating huge unemployment and making it impossible for them to pay off their debts – the very reason for introducing these measures in the first place.  Worse still, even though the IMF and the US are beseeching her to give Europe a desperately needed boost by opening up Germany’s economy, she refuses to do so: the plan in Germany now is to run a budget surplus. It’s madness. And it’s wrong.

That line is becoming the increasingly orthodox take on the crisis in Europe. But is it fair? Is it true?  Isn’t this just another case of scapegoating Germany for being Europe’s largest and best run economy? If Germany now enjoys an unemployment rate of only 5.4% compared to Europe’s average of 12%, that’s because for the past 15 years it kept real wages down and experienced low rates of growth while in the other nations of the eurozone wages soared and their economies boomed.  They recklessly disregarded the rules on fiscal discipline to which they’d signed up on joining the euro. They cocked two fingers at Berlin when it warned them what would happen. And now that it has happened is it all Germany’s fault? Angela Merkel isn’t destroying Europe: she’s one of the few elements that is keeping it together.


Speakers

For the motion

Mehdi Hasan

Journalist and broadcaster


Journalist, broadcaster and prominent critic of the Saudi government. He is the host of UpFront and Head To Head on Al Jazeera English, as well as a columnist for The Intercept and Contributing Editor for the New Statesman.

Euclid Tsakalotos

MP for the Syriza party in Greece


MP for the Syriza party in Greece, economic adviser to Alexis Tsipras, the party leader, and a professor of economics at the University of Athens.
Against the motion

Antony Beevor

Award-winning historian of the Second World War


Antony Beevor is an award-winning historian whose latest book is the No. 1 international bestseller The Second World War. He is a visiting professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London and the University of Kent. His other books include Stalingrad, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature, and Crete – The Battle and the Resistance, which won a Runciman Prize.

Christine Ockrent

Belgian-born journalist


Belgian-born journalist who was editor-in-chief of the French weekly news magazine L’Express. For ten years she presented France Europe Express, a television show focusing on European issues.
Chair

Nik Gowing

Presenter, BBC World News


Nik Gowing has been a main presenter for the BBC’s international 24-hour news channel BBC World News, since 1996, where he presents The Hub with Nik Gowing, BBC World Debates, Dateline London and location coverage. For 18 years he worked at ITN where he was bureau chief in Rome and Warsaw, and Diplomatic Editor for Channel Four News (1988-1996).