All roads continue to lead to Berlin, the powerhouse that runs and dictates Europe’s future. In this case, Berlin is spearheading an effort to keep Italy subjugated before an economic crisis (it’s already capitalizing off of) gets politically out of hand as it did in Greece, which is now a German vassal state. It’s Germany’s goal to create a United States of Europe and economic levers are but one tactic in harmonizing Europe how it sees fit in achieving that end.
ROME/BERLIN (Own report) – Following massive complaints from Germany, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella blocked a euroskeptic from becoming his country’s finance minister, appointing an IMF man – favored by Berlin – to be prime minister. The democratically elected 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right Lega Nord majority’s opportunity to form a government was thereby denied. Euroskeptic Paolo Savona, a renowned career economist, was rejected because he could not have insured the maintenance of the EU’s common currency. Under his administration, resistance to Berlin’s austerity dictate could have been expected, whereas the newly appointed Prime Minster Carlo Cottarelli passed the test a few years ago as the Rome government’s austerity commissioner (“Mr. Scissors”). Savona’s nomination is the result of Italy’s growing euroskepticism, which, in the meantime, is also shared by other economists. “Germany profits, Italy loses” through the introduction of the euro, concludes Savona’s alternative candidate to the post of finance minister.
The “Enemy of Germany”
Already last week, the 81 year old economist Paolo Savona’s nomination to become Italy’s Finance Minister had been virulently commented in leading German media: Rome is appointing an “enemy of Germany” to head the finance ministry; Savona is a “declared opponent of Germany,” who sees the euro as the “consummation of Germany’s idea of dominating Europe,” as “propagated already by National Socialism.” In case the economist, a former minister and bank manager, actually becomes finance minister, it would provoke “massive skepticism particularly in Berlin,” one journalist wrote, drawing parallels to Yanis Varoufakis. Varoufakis, as Finance Minister of Greece’s left social democratic Syriza government coalition in 2015, had unsuccessfully fought Berlin’s austerity dictate. Athens was “outmaneuvered” at the time, notes the journalist. Italy, however, as the euro zone’s third strongest economy, is far more important than Greece, and an Italian Varoufakis would therefore be of quite a “different caliber.” The conflict between Rome and Berlin – similar to the one between Athens and Berlin in 2015 – is revolving around the economic policy in the euro zone, the journalist admits: “The state debt at 130 %” of the GDP is responsible for Italy’s problems, according to German government circles. Rome, on the other hand, attributes them to the EU’s austerity policy, which is “widely seen as a German dictate.”
A Proven Austerity Commissary
Already in July 2015, as Berlin had pushed the left government in Athens into a corner, the internationally renowned economist called on the Italian political establishment to elaborate a “Plan B” to leave the common currency. Germany is the “country in command” within the euro zone. It is using Greece to entrench this position through draconian austerity measures. Therefore, Rome must prepare its withdrawal from the euro, Savona explained in an interview that Beppe Grillo, the leader of the M5S, had also linked, at the time, to the movement’s webpage. According to Savona, Italy’s high national debt will be used as leverage to force the country to make neo-liberal reforms – and to insure that “those remain in power, who will perpetuate this condition of subjugation.” He was referring to Italy’s old political elite, who according to Savona are collaborating with Berlin. By appointing Cottarelli, the ex-IMF man favored by Germany, Mattarella has now inadvertently confirmed this accusation.
Wind is Turning
Savona is by no means standing alone in his assessment. Even German media organs admit that a growing number of Italian citizens “hold Germany responsible for the misery in their country” and feel confirmed in this conviction by a growing number of “renowned economists.” In fact, the Italian economist Luca Zingales, who was also in consideration for the finance minister post, likewise had called for a “Plan B” and for leaving the euro, should no redistribution mechanism – as counterweight to the excessive German trade surpluses – be implemented at EU level. According to Zingales, ideally, even though unrealistic, Germany should leave the euro, since the common currency is the basis for German dominance in the euro zone. Germany’s situation could “not be better,” writes the economist. Berlin does not pay anything “for saving Europe,” while Germany is a safe haven for loans, which keeps interest rates low. In addition, the dominant exports are creating not only wealth, but jobs as well. Zingales concludes that “Germany profits, Italy loses.”
Stagnation and Impoverishment
Italy is in fact losing, which is shown by the persisting socio-economic crisis, which has led to the M5S election victory. Due to persistent economic stagnation, that Mediterranean nation – with its debt at 132 percent of its GDP – has a GDP that is inferior to what it had been before the 2007 crisis began. Unemployment remains high, particularly in the southern regions where jobless rates are as high as 29%. Under German pressure, Rome has imposed several neo-liberal reforms, including a liberalization of the job market in 2014, which further deteriorated the social situation of the population. In the meantime, nearly 60% of the jobs created are part-time, with much lower job security, massively increasing the risk of poverty in Italy. Before the onset of the euro crisis, nearly 15 million Italians were threatened with poverty; today it is more than 18 million.
Full article: Eurocracy (German Foreign Policy)