When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Germany And France...Madame Merkel & Herr Hollande: The Time Is Now

Op-Ed: The posturing of recent days between Berlin and Paris had its logic. But now the moment has arrived to find the terms to strike a deal to save the euro that is what matters most to both countries. And beyond.

Marriage of convenience? (robinhoodtax)
Marriage of convenience? (robinhoodtax)

PARIS - It is customary for contestants in a decisive confrontation to thrust out their chests and flex their muscles in an attempt to impress each other. It is the art of psychological warfare. This is undoubtedly what governments on both sides of the Rhine have decided to do, as the next European meetings to save the euro loom later this month.

One must hope so, because the signals that French and German leaders are sending out aren't the kind that foster serene discussion. In Berlin last Friday, Angela Merkel launched a full-scale attack on the French positions. The German Chancellor said President François Hollande's fervently defended position of a mutualized debt through eurobonds "would lead Germany to mediocrity."

She added that the real question was "the increasing differences between the German and French economies," by which she meant France's declining competitiveness. Two days earlier, her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, sharply criticized France's return to the 60-year-old retirement age.

France was not to be outdone. While Hollande hosted his friends from the German SPD opposition at the Elysée palace, the French minister for productive recovery downright lectured the German Chancellor, denouncing her "ideological blindness."

"The solution isn't budgetary cuts, it's having an ECB (European Central Bank) that does its job," declared the minister Arnaud Montebourg in an interview with Usine Nouvelle. "We want a central bank that reduces public debt, that finances growth while protecting purchasing power."

Uncomforting words

These kinds of declarations, in contradicting basic economic logic, feed into German worries. Berlin suspects the French of wanting to have its cake and eat it too; in other words, of waiting for Germany to finance struggling countries' deficits through debt mutualization without getting down to the painful yet necessary structural reforms for a healthier economy.

Similarly, in Paris, the possible delay of a Court of Audit examination until after the June 28 European Summit contributes to sowing doubt about the seriousness of France's commitments to austerity.

The time has come to move on to a more constructive phase of the summit preparation. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Economy Minister Pierre Moscovici have already started. Paris should pay closer attention to Germany's genuine worries, and Madame Merkel needs to convince her public opinion that a compromise is in Germany's interest.

Beyond the political decorum, one essential question remains: while Berlin needs to make efforts on debt mutualization and the role of the European Central Bank, Paris has to do the same on European federalism. One cannot happen without the other.

Read more from Le Monde in French.

Photo - robinhoodtax

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Migrant Lives

A Train Journey With Bengal Migrants Looking For A Living Far Away

Finding a seat on the Karmabhoomi Express is close to impossible. A closer look at why so many migrant workers travel on it, and out of Bengal, offers a grim picture.

image of a train

The Karmabhoomi Express runs from Kamakhya to Mumbai in a 3 day journey.

India Rail Info
Joydeep Sarkar

WEST BENGAL — Welcome aboard the 22512 Kamakhya-LTT Karmabhoomi Express — a metaphor, if any, of the acuteness of Bengal’s unemployment problem.

It is 10.28 pm at north Bengal’s Alipurduar Junction and the crowd has swollen to its peak. This is when the Karmabhoomi Express appears at the station. It is bound for Mumbai. Finding a seat on it is close to impossible. It is always chock full and there are always hundreds struggling to get a spot in the unreserved general compartment.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest