Britons obsess about immigration, Germans focus on education

The Anglosaxon AgonyEvery German politician I have spoken to this week watches the chaos in David Cameron’s government over Europe with something close to horror. This is a very dangerous game, says one. It’s like the US Republicans with the Tea Party, says another. There will be a terrible awakening, says a third. The three, all members of the Bundestag, will be opponents in September’s German general election, but they see Conservative implosion over Europe through the same lens. “The current situation in UK is not positive at all,” Michael Fuchs of the CDU, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre right party, told me this week. “You have a very large deficit. Your industry is almost nothing. Your economy is too dependent on the City of London. You need to realise it won’t get better if you leave Europe. It will get worse.” And that, mark you, is the verdict from a German MP who likes Britain and sits for what is still supposedly Conservatives’ sister party. But you hear the same verdict from a German Liberal, from a German Social Democrat, or from a German Green. That convergence in Berlin doesn’t mean, of itself, all these German politicians are always right, German political class can and does deceive itself, just like ours. But German distress at Britain’s psychodrama over Europe is palpable. On this, maybe the Germans can see us as we are, better than, in our current hysteria, we can see ourselves. Political visitors can deceive themselves too, of course. Eighty years ago some went to Soviet Russia and returned saying they had seen the future and it worked. I’ve lost count of the British politicians of all parties who have crossed the Atlantic and left their critical faculties behind at Heathrow. Even so, it is hard to spend time in Germany, not feel that this is still, for all its faults, a better, more balanced place than Britain. Particularly in a week like this, to travel from London to Berlin feels like leaving the madhouse and arriving in a world inhabited by rational beings once more. This is not, repeat, not, to embrace every German government policy or everything about German way. Germany is changing, not always for the better. Inequality is rising there too, especially since inancial crisis. In particular, it is not to endorse Merkel’s rigid austerity policies for the eurozone, though one understands why she will not bend with only four months to polling day. If she is re-elected, as even opponents expect, Angela Merkel may have to loosen the bonds. Being a consummate pragmatist, she may do so. A lot depends on the coalition she eventually forms. But it is to say, without donning rose-tinted glasses, that Germany continues to get a lot of big things right that Britain continues to get very wrong indeed. Germany has a balanced economy. Britain, still hooked on the financial services drug, does not. Germany has a strong manufacturing sector. Ours is less than half the size. German economic strength is based on the middle-sized company. And ours is constantly undermined by MERGERMANIA. Companies prosper on industrial co-determination. Ours pigheadedly regard any limit on a management autonomy as regulation and red tape. Germany’s housing market is under strain, especially in Berlin and Hamburg. Britain’s is broken. Germany’s current account is in the black and they have a balanced budget. Britain’s is deep in the red, and now we are borrowing more (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


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