Friday, March 19, 2010

National Identity

« Vous n’avez toujours pas compris ? ... Vous n’avez pas besoin d’un certificat de nationalité pour vous, mais pour vos enfants, si ».

C'est comme ça, la France.  Joan of Arc, the Eiffel Tower, infuriating bureaucrats ... la France éternelle.

Europe Frays

Depressing news out of Berlin: the German government would apparently now prefer to let the IMF deal with Greece. The IMF has less money available for Greece and can impose tougher conditions, it seems, than the EU. And German voters are simply refusing solidarity with their Greek counterparts. Angela Merkel has even said that if Greece must abandon the euro, that is preferable to a bailout.

The ratification of the constitutional treaty--an achievement of which Sarkozy used to boast--is all but forgotten. In a crisis, it is now clear, European governments will go their own way, and there is not even a pretense of central leadership, unless you count Brussels' warning the other day to a number of countries, including France, that their deficits are way out of line. In short, Germany is proposing deflation and austerity for its neighbors in order to maintain social peace at home. Will social unrest now spread from Greece to the rest of the southern tier?

Meanwhile, Sarko is keeping his criticism of Merkel (relatively) muted. In private, however, he reportedly said of the Germans: "They haven't changed." In private--yet it's published in Le Monde, which is not likely to warm the heart of Europe, of which France and Germany are the systole and diastole.