Germany and Merkel hold Europe’s fate in their hands

The once-divided city of Berlin now has the task of holding Europe together and, for Chancellor Angela Merkel, this will require a difficult balancing act.

Angela Merkel does not do trick or treat. She does slow and steady – not shock and awe.

But over the past year or so, she has made greater efforts to reach out to countries where strict austerity measures are being imposed to persuade them that yes, she does care. Germany cares.

And she is trying to make the same case to her core constituency.

In Potsdam, she was firmly on home turf, but even here she was on a charm offensive for the euro. It is more than a currency, she said, and I want all countries to be part of it.

For a while earlier in the year, it was not clear that that was still the case. She appeared to be wavering on Greece.

Not any longer. Mrs Merkel now says explicitly that she wants Greece to stay in the Eurozone.

What is left unsaid is who is going to pay for that privilege.

Because Greece does not really need to be lent more money – it needs to be given some, either in the form of direct transfers or by writing off some of the debts it owes to countries like Germany.

Neither would go down well with the audience in Potsdam, as Germany heads into an election year.

But Mrs Merkel will go at her own pace. The pace she believes her country is comfortable with.

And that means all eyes should remain on Berlin. A city defined for decades by division now has the fate of European unity in its hands.

Full article: Germany and Merkel hold Europe’s fate in their hands (BBC News)

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