When all of Europe went into lockdown in March 2020 to avoid the ravages of Covid-19, Germany had first gone on its own, closing its borders and then buying masks and vaccines, unconcerned about its community partners. . Eventually, Angela Merkel, then still Chancellor, joined the line, allying with French President Emmanuel Macron to defend a European stimulus plan funded by a shared debt of European Union (EU) member states and a joint purchase of vaccines.
Today, Berlin is once again seized by the temptation of everyone for himself, so sharply rising gas and electricity prices are causing its economic and political decision-makers to panic. The 200 billion euro plan presented on September 29, which is intended to reduce the energy costs of German citizens and companies, is evidence of this. In addition, Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not bother to warn either the Elysée or the EU Commission. On Monday 3 October and Tuesday 4 October, some of the finance ministers of the Twenty-Seven who met in Luxembourg were touched by this and invoked the resulting risk of disintegration for the EU.
While interest rates are already diverging within the eurozone, the German plan undoubtedly offers an advantage to its economic actors and threatens the integrity of the single market. “With an energy crisis that will continue, it is important that we do things together in Europe. (…) Otherwise we risk fragmenting the eurozone.”, Bruno Le Maire, French Economy Minister, started in Luxembourg on Monday. Behind the scenes, some are also talking about those “Duplicity” from Berlin.
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On the one hand, this plan subsidizes the gas price for the Germans and thus has a consumption-promoting effect; on the other hand, Germany opposes the introduction of a gas price cap at Community level, as requested by 15 Member States, arguing that this would increase the energy needs of the 27 and jeopardize security of supply. European leaders meeting in Prague on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th October will not fail to return. “Faced with common threats (…)we cannot split up according to the scope of our national budgets”declared Italian Council President Mario Draghi, who was resigning on September 30th.
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