German angst is back, or at the very least consulting its lawyers about a reunion tour. I have just moved back to Berlin, after a total of 18 years away from the country in which I grew up, and can’t help being struck by the relentless reliability of my birth nation’s appetite for pessimism.
Self-doubt is writ large across the counter at my local newsagent: “Countdown for the chancellor: How long does she have left?”; “Can she still save herself?”; “Have we Germans gone insane?” (Die Zeit).
Never mind that austerity here is mainly something that happens in other countries. Never mind that beer and bread are cheap, that the cost of living is lower than in most of northern Europe, while wages are higher than in southern Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
Angela Merkel isn’t due to meet François Hollande for the first time until next week, but she must think she already knows him fairly well. Otherwise her senior diplomats wouldn’t have confidently announced that the German and French head of state will find a “pragmatic solution” over the new fiscal pact, as they told Süddeutsche Zeitung last week. But then she would say that: pragmatism is what Merkel is all about.
When not quipping for the 100th time that the new Franco-German alliance at the heart of European politics will no longer be known as “Merkozy” but as “Merde”, the British press still tends to talk of continental diplomacy in terms of all-or-nothing-pacts and cloak-and-dagger intrigues.… Seguir leyendo »
First, the cheery news: the Brits may finally be getting over the war. A YouGov survey published last week hints that the British view of Germany is less and less defined by sinister men in jackboots. Britain may still be overwhelmingly sceptical about the EU and Germany’s role in it, but Brits have developed a serious soft spot for the way Germans run their country – their politicians, banks, schools and hospitals all rated more highly than their British equivalents. In fact, Germany is the second most admired country in Britain, ahead of the US and behind only Sweden.
The stand-out adjective the British associate with Germany now is “hard-working”: ironic, given that a furious work rate used to be the reason people couldn’t stand the place.… Seguir leyendo »