We have to thank Angela Merkel for one thing: British Brexit! JONATHAN SAXTY | Express commentary | Comment
The Chancellor of East German origin was, for her supporters, a guardian of European stability and sensible liberal values.
For her detractors, however, Merkel’s perceived closing position has accumulated untold problems for the future, problems now in the vat of new Chancellor Olaf Scholz. For Britain, Merkel will forever be associated with Brexit. Its perceived inability to compromise with London, on the back of its open-door migration policy, largely secured victory on the leave side.
Meanwhile, for southern Europe, Merkel was the uncompromising iron lady of German rule disguised as fiscal responsibility.
While for Eastern Europe, it will forever be associated with their growing disengagement from the EU.
In an article for the Sunday Express on the occasion of her departure, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán criticized Merkel’s decision to open Germany to refugees, while exposing her suspicions of “the new German government. left pro-immigration, pro-gender, federalist, the pro-German European agenda “, before adding that” the era of ambiguity, stealth politics and drift has ended with Merkel “.
Orbán said his side should “prepare for battle with its eyes wide open”.
Germany benefited from a wave of prosperity under Merkel, benefiting as much from the euro as from the outsourcing of much of the country’s industry to Eastern Europe.
It is often claimed that Germany avoided the fate of Japan thanks in large part to the single currency.
Yet while Japan – despite losing ground to its neighbors – retained a digital advantage, Germany’s more analog economy has largely missed the boat in the revolutionary technologies of the digital age.
Under Merkel, Germany failed to catch up in the digital space and improve its lagging infrastructure.
It will be an incredible balancing act to become a low carbon economy given the dominance of its traditional industries, as well as the lack of infrastructure to meet its climate goals.
The country is also starting to experience some of the house price inflation that has long plagued the UK, which is largely responsible for failed housing construction, property speculation and migration. that Merkel oversaw or ignored.
Merkel has also phased out nuclear power, although the move has made it more difficult for Germany to wean off fossil fuels.
His move made Germany more dependent on coal, preventing the country from meeting emissions targets, while also pushing up costs for industry and households.
The Germans might ask how their government plans to keep the lights on once its coal and nuclear power plants finally shut down.
Viktor Orban: The era of stealth ended with Merkel – now we prepare for battle with our eyes open | Express commentary | Commentary | Express.co.uk
Merkel’s Germany also expressed a sense of greed vis-à-vis Brussels, enjoying the benefits of the EU without wanting to foot the bill.
Any willingness to pay the bills now will likely be further reduced as Germany grapples with its own infrastructure shortcomings, while catching up with its tech-savvy rivals.
While support for the EU remains one of the unifying principles of German policy, Berlin is still worried about Brexit.
France’s presidential election next year will likely be watched closely, as Germany’s longtime ally becomes increasingly nationalist.
If Merkel had handled migration better, she might have kept countries east and west of Germany.
Sadly, a new Europe may be being born thanks to these failures.
For a long time, Germany weathered many storms that hit other Western powers, dampened by the euro, and able to present itself as a neutral arbiter on the world stage.
Today, Germany must deal with the consequences of the mistakes of its previous government. On the economy, on foreign policy and on the EU itself, the chickens may be about to return home to roost.