I think she’s presided over some serious economic skulduggery and corruption, the VW emissions scandal being just the tip of the iceberg. I think Germany has happily taken on the role of the economic engine of the EU, as it allows it to ensure the economic structure and interests of the EU are perfectly aligned with those of Germany. The entire Euro project appears to have been set up to ensure poor European countries could magically afford German products (mainly cars), and Germany’s treatment of Greece a couple of years ago showed exactly how Germany sees the rest of Europe. I think there is a prevailing attitude around the EU that what is good for German companies is good for Germany, and what is good for Germany is good for the EU. German companies have been given a free-hand in writing much of the industrial legislation (particularly environmental stuff) imposed by the EU on the whole bloc, and stuff like corruption (Siemens), dodgy financial dealings (Porsche takeover of VW), and emissions cheating are all ignored in favour of German corporate giants (it seems to fall to non-EU governments to complain).
I think there is a lot of rotten structure under Germany at the moment which everyone – particularly the EU lot – are turning a blind eye to. How robust is Deutschbank, for example? And would we be told if there was anything amiss? Merkel might be long-gone by the time all of this comes to light and unravels, but she’s presided over it and much of it will be deliberate policy not benign neglect.
Then today I came across this story:
Russia has delivered electricity turbines made by Germany’s Siemens to Crimea, a region subject to European Union sanctions barring EU firms from supplying it with energy technology, three sources with knowledge of the delivery told Reuters.
Reuters was unable to determine if Siemens knew of or condoned the equipment transfer, but the move exposes the German company to potential accusations of indirect sanctions-busting and of not taking sufficient safeguards to ensure its equipment does not end up on territory most countries view as illegally annexed, say legal experts.
I can’t say I’m surprised. Nor can I say I’m convinced by this:
“Siemens has not delivered turbines to Crimea and complies with all export control restrictions,” said Wolfram Trost, a spokesman for Siemens in Munich, when asked to confirm the turbine transfer to Crimea.
Citing client confidentiality, he did not answer written questions asking whether Siemens was aware that the turbines had been shipped to Crimea and whether it would now be activating or servicing them.
It wouldn’t be the first time Siemens has engaged in dodgy practices overseas, would it?
EU sanctions bar European individuals and companies from providing energy technology to Crimea or from taking any actions designed to circumvent those rules due to the bloc’s view that the peninsula was illegally stolen from Ukraine.
When asked about the matter, the European Commission has declined to comment on the Siemens case in the past, saying it is up to EU member states to enforce sanctions rules on their companies.
When asked about the issue on Wednesday, a spokesman for German’s Ministry for Economic Affairs said he had no immediate comment.
Now there’s a surprise! What was I saying about a prevailing attitude in the EU whereby what is good for German companies is good for Germany, and what is good for Germany is good for the EU? Nothing to see here, obviously.
As I said before, I think this is merely the tip of a very large iceberg. Streetwise Professor recently wrote a post on Germany preaching European unity in one breath while stitching up eastern Europe in the next in order to preserve their commercial interests with Russia. It’s worth reading in full, and thoroughly consistent with the Reuters findings.