The week saw several high profile meetings between heads of state, starting with François Hollande’s first encounter with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then building up to the G8, held at Camp David.
In the Observer Andrew Rawnsley asked us to stop “being beastly to Germans”, as Noel Coward put it. I can’t say I have much sympathy for Merkel, despite having to watch David Cameron celebrate as Chelsea beat her team Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on Saturday. It is true though that, with Hollande as France’s new president, Merkel is looking very low on allies among her fellow heads of state.
As Rawnsley says in his article; ‘The American Democrat, British Conservative and French Socialist may not agree on much else, but on this, at least, they are together. It is one second to midnight in the eurozone because a recalcitrant and miserly Germany has refused to step up to its historic responsibility to do what is necessary to save the single currency. If the eurozone implodes, and carries away the global economy with it, the buck will stop in Berlin.’
I think it’s fair to say that that Germany does deserve a big helping of blame for the current state of the eurozone. Germanyhas repeatedly failed to offer leadership that rises to the scale of the present crisis. When Germanyhas led, it has not always been in a well-judged direction. The austerity programme imposed on the Greeks as the price for continued membership of the euro was too draconian to be implemented in a democracy. The have duly revolted.
So now Obama, Hollande and Cameron get to lay the blame for the current situation at Merkel’s feet. I can see their point but the idea that Cameron gets to lecture another European leader about a growth agenda is very galling. Merkel has overseen a German economy that had remained very healthy through out the crisis, whilst Cameron’s government has led us in to further recession.
With all this going on, apart from the Champions League Final, you can’t imagine that Cameron did much relaxing at Camp David, though he has been accused of “chillaxing” too much of weekend, and playing games on his iPad. He has reacted by saying that he is driven, like Lady Thatcher, to achieve “massive radical and structural reforms”. I think I prefer the idea of Cameron “chillaxing” than bringing about reforms similar to Tatcher. I hear that a new version of Angry Birds has just come out, can someone please buy it for him?