The European project of economic and political union is stalled by the French and German inability to respect and celebrate their differences.
The last financial crisis, and the ensuing Great Recession, has been a moment of truth that lifted the veil on a 60-year old make-believe. Ignoring dire problems of the French economy, and repeated appeals of its hard-put neighbor, Germany imposed a devastating, pro-cyclical fiscal austerity, with (short-term) job-killing structural reforms.
And when the European Central Bank (ECB) moved to offset the fiscal austerity with an appropriate monetary easing, Germans went furious because cheap and abundant credit would prevent their demolition job. Resignations followed of German representatives to the ECB's governing council, and a slew of unsuccessful law suits were filed with the highest judicial authorities in Germany and in the E.U., accusing the ECB of violating its policy mandate.
The latest, very saddening, development is that for German leaders the euro has become an "instrument of hate." They are saying that Germany is resented because of policy constraints imposed by the common currency. But no thought is given to the fact that Germany lives off its E.U. partners with an estimated trade surplus of 160 billion euros in 2016. That amount represents 75 percent of Germany's total trade surplus and a 6 percent increase from 2015.