Schroeder at the Helm
For the first six months of 1999, Germany will be at the helm steering the European Union.
Under the presidencies of Britain and Austria in 1998, little change was effected in the bungling bureaucracy of the EU, the year ending with auditors revealing that $4.8 billion went missing from the EU purse during the previous 12 months. Though the EU has turned a blind eye to its continuing series of frauds, foul-ups and scandals over the past two years, that may change under German leadership.
Germany will operate its presidency of the Union from a far greater position of power than other EU nations. Its economy, even given the difficulties of the past year, with escalating unemployment and eastern German reconstruction sucking massive funds out of the Federal budget, is still the powerhouse of Europe.
The European Central Bank, which launched the euro this month, is located in Frankfurt, the city whose stock market is increasingly being touted as a rival bourse to those of London and New York. Meanwhile, the fanfare surrounding reopening the Reichstag building and relocating the German capital from Bonn to Berlin will occur during the EU’s German presidency. These events will strengthen Germany as the EU’s leading nation as the millennium draws to a close.
Of particular significance is the unpredictable German Chancellor’s stated intentions for the German presidency of the EU. Recently, Chancellor Schroeder indicated that the European single currency will be but a stepping stone to “a political union… a modern Europe of the social market economy… we will actively set the pace in reforming the EU.” Then, for the first time since World War II, a German chancellor told the world which model would be used to reshape Europe—“a federal order in Europe
seems the best guarantee of peace, solidarity and progress. The federal system in Germany has proven itself” (The Guardian, Nov. 11, 1998).
This should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that Germany sees Europe heading in one direction and one direction only, the yielding of member nations’ national sovereignty to a common European federation fashioned on the German model. Kaiser Wilhelm had the same vision, and before him Charlemagne; most recently, Hitler, the author of “Mein Kampf,” an Austrian corporal in the federal German army, had the same vision. The last time an attempt was made to implant this vision on Europe, it ended in the deaths of 50 million souls.