While few European states can pretend to share Germany's distinction of being a "country of poets and thinkers," none can rival German abilities to extract so much wealth from the rest of the European Union.
Last year, Germany posted a 159.3 billion euro surplus on its goods trade with other countries in the EU — one of the world's largest free-trade areas and a region with privileged access to German goods and services.
That's the way it's been since 1958, when Europe's common market opened up.
Germany's enormous EU bounty consistently accounts for two-thirds of its net foreign trade income in a market structure where Berlin remains an undisputed leader and a principal regulator.
This year looks set to mark another record-high EU trade income for Germany. The surplus during the January-April period was running at an annual rate of 175 billion euro — a 10 percent increase on the country's EU trades in 2017 — according to statistics from Germany's Bundesbank.
A country representing 28 percent of the monetary union's economy and living so grandly off the rest of its partners is a structurally destabilizing factor.