Praise from German chancellor Angela Merkel is typically hard to come by. However, Merkel is freely distributing praise these days, to the person least-deserving, herself.
As the eurozone marches down the “Road to Shared Liability” Germans are largely unaware of the Hidden Risks of the Euro-Zone Bank Oversight Plan risks that Merkel ignored when agreeing to the eurozone oversight plan last week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was full of praise for the euro-zone bank oversight plan passed last week at the EU summit in Brussels. But the deal is not nearly as watertight as she claimed. It lacks a legal foundation and could lead to a conflict of interest at the highest levels of the European Central Bank.
Angela Merkel received recognition from the highest possible level — herself. The most recent resolutions made by the European Union in its ongoing effort to save the common currency, she said last Thursday, “can’t be spoken of highly enough.” Her administration had been able to “push through Germany’s core demands,” she said.
Self praise, of course, is often inaccurate. But in this case, the gap between fiction and reality is particularly wide. The agreement reached by European leaders and their finance ministers during last week’s summits in Brussels could ultimately destroy Merkel’s reputation as a level-headed and firm savior of the common currency.
Merkel has tirelessly called for EU leaders to push forward with the political integration of Europe. But at the most recent EU summit, she personally ensured that plans to that effect, created by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, didn’t even make it onto the agenda. At the same time, German Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schäuble voted in favor of a new banking supervisory agency under the authority of the European Central Bank.
It is a plan that Germany’s own central bankers view with concern. Lawyers at the Bundesbank object that the responsibilities of the new super-agency remain nebulous. The project has no “lasting, sustainable legal foundation,” they say.
The German Vision
No longer is “more Europe” the focus of EU efforts. Instead, German taxpayers could be made liable for billions in risk taken on by large European financial institutions. There is little left of Merkel’s motto calling for “increased liability only in the case of increased integration.”
Not Enough Legal Protections
Merkel was unsuccessful in ensuring that larger euro-zone members have more influence in the oversight agency. As has been the case thus far in the ECB, a vote from Malta counts just as much as a vote from Germany. It is a situation that makes in possible for expensive bailout packages for Irish or Spanish banks to be pushed through despite German opposition.
No wonder, then, that financially powerful countries outside the euro zone are less than impressed by the new banking watchdog. The oversight regime is open to non-euro-zone EU members as well, but Sweden, for example, isn’t even considering it. The risk, says Finance Minister Anders Borg, is simply too great. “We don’t believe it contains enough legal protection for taxpayers,” he says, “so that they won’t be made liable for mistakes made by foreign banks.”
As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, chancellor Merkel is willing to sell her soul and German taxpayers down the river if that is what it takes to create a nannyzone.
And what a nannyzone it will be, if a vote from Malta or Portugal counts as much as a vote from Germany or France. It’s no wonder that Euroskepticism on Rise in New EU Members.
Indeed, citizens from Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic are all having doubts about joining the eurozone, even if some of the political leaders of those countries are willing to proceed full speed ahead.
The Czech president is one of those thinking clearly. He went so far as to call the ESM a “monstrous and outrageous thing”. Merkel does not care about such matters. Her vision is that of a combined Europe, regardless of what it takes, or who is damaged in the process.
Since no one else in Germany is singing Merkel’s praises at the moment, she (like all politicians) is willing to do that herself.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock