A Game of Euro Chicken Playing Until the Germans Lose Their Nerve

An old post from Spiegel International

In the ongoing game of euro chicken, will the Germans balk? Or lay more golden eggs?Zoom

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In the ongoing game of euro chicken, will the Germans balk? Or lay more golden eggs?

For Germany, being part of the European Union has always included an element of blackmail. France has been playing this card from the beginning, but now the Spanish and the Greeks have mastered the game. They’re banking on Berlin losing its nerve.

France’s newly elected Socialist government has just decided to lower the retirement age to 60. From now on, no Frenchman will be forced to work any longer just because it might help kick-start the country’s flagging economy. And there’s no way the French are going to work as long as their poor fellow Europeans in Germany, whose government is obliging them to labor and toil until age 67.

 

 

Blessed France, where the ruthless laws of the economy lose their ability to frighten people bathing in the eternal sunlight of socialism. Granted, this grand nation doesn’t produce enough children to guarantee the prosperity of its inhabitants into old age. But in France, something that would elsewhere be viewed as a serious demographic problem demanding tough attention is seen as a mere misunderstanding that the strong arm of the president can simply dispel with the stoke of a pen, should he so desire.

 

OK, things aren’t quite that easy, even for François Hollande, the freshly minted sun king of France’s Fifth Republic, and his fellow brothers-in-arms. At least they understand enough to know that economic problems can’t be solved by merely kicking them down the road. But, luckily enough, those in the Elysée Palace can also still rely on the willingness of the Germans to work hard. And it’s there that we come full circle.

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