The Corner

Merkel Twists

Now she tells us (via the Guardian):

With direct comparisons being drawn with the panic prompted by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, European leaders promised to provide tens of billions of euros to Athens within the next three weeks. But Germany was still insisting on tougher economic reforms from Greece before approving a €100bn-€120bn (£89bn-£104bn) joint EU bailout, leading to fresh turbulence on Europe’s financial markets.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, promised swift action to end the crisis, but said it was a mistake for Greece to have been allowed to join the single currency. “In 2000 we had a situation when we were confronted with the question of whether Greece should be able to join the eurozone,” she said. “It turned out that the decision [in favour] may not have been scrutinised closely enough.”

“It turned out that . . .”!

Merkel herself only became chancellor in 2005, but even by her demanding standards, those are words of remarkable duplicity. While the scale of the Greek deception has indeed been a surprise, it was always known, at least in Brussels and by much of the EU’s political class (of which Merkel was already a prominent member in 2000), that the decision to admit Greece to the eurozone was (to use a kind word) unsound. Unfortunately it is only now — when the bill has come due — that Germany’s voters are being told the truth. No wonder they are angry.

Another question for Merkel is this. Why, knowing what she already must have known, did she choose to ram through the Lisbon Treaty, a pact that yoked Germany even closer to Greece?

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