Regular readers will know I take a dim view of Angela Merkel’s Germany, and not just because of her lunatic decision to open the borders to millions of migrants a year or so back. In May last year I made the following comment:
I think [Merkel] 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.
A few months later 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.
Streetwise Professor has written about the rather incestuous and opaque relationship between Deutsche Bank and the German government. He also 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.
I was therefore not particularly surprised to read this:
The longest investigation in EU history found that the Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom has used its enormous power to pressure vulnerable states in Eastern Europe, and to fragment the EU’s unified energy market with coercive pricing policies.
The report suggests that Germany has been enjoying a sweetheart deal with Gazprom, gaining a competitive advantage in gas costs at the expense of fellow EU economies and leaving front line states at the mercy of Moscow’s strong-arm tactics.
Hundreds of pages leaked from the European Commission paint an extraordinary picture of predatory behaviour, with Gazprom acting as an enforcement arm of Russian foreign policy. Bulgaria was treated almost like a colony, while Poland was forced to pay exorbitant prices for imported flows of pipeline gas from Siberia.
But it doesn’t stop there. Raedwald has this to say:
In 2017 Ernst & Young investigated the extent to which corruption has become embedded and institutionalised within the German economy. This second phase roll out of German corruption proved as insidious as an invasion of Japanese knotweed, with crooked tentacles reaching into every crevice of German economic life. The rapid growth of online trading in Germany in the last five years has exacerbated the criminality – German firms trade corruptly and criminally with impunity on the internet as the German legal system provides few affordable remedies for their victims. And all this is done with the complicity and support of the German government.
And all done under Merkel’s chancellorship. More damning is this:
Whilst Germany is not alone in seeing a rise in economic corruption, the country is unique in being able to roll it out on an pan European industrial scale, leading an entire continent in implementing then covering up emissions testing, and now corrupting the trade in two-thirds of the continent’s gas imports. The corrupt appointment of the German zealot Martin Selmayr to the heart of the EU raises suspicion that the repression of the truth and blocking of all measures to tackle corruption has begun with a German takeover of key appointments.
And in regarding the latest Gazprom revelations:
The southern nations will be aggrieved that they have been bullied, coerced and hectored by a deeply crooked nation wearing a false disguise of moral superiority. And eastern nations such as Poland and Bulgaria, countries Germany has robbed of billions of Euros in corrupt complicity with Gazprom, will be looking at concrete measures to get their money back.
I have an inkling that others in Europe, and particularly the US, are beginning to get a whiff of the rotten state of Merkel’s Germany:
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempts to engage President Donald Trump just got harder.
Trump lavished praise on the U.K. and France at the weekend “for their wisdom and the power of their fine Military,” after they joined the U.S. in hitting Syrian targets. All Merkel earned was U.S. criticism for not taking part.
The U.S. disregard for Germany’s postwar aversion to using military force adds to a sense in Berlin of being sidelined by the Trump administration at a time when global challenges are multiplying. The cooling ties are both a personal snub to Merkel, the longest-serving leader of the Group of Seven and the European Union, and economically alarming, with the threat of U.S. trade tariffs hanging over the EU, and Germany especially.
Where Merkel was feted by President Barack Obama, the Chancellery in Berlin now struggles to even make contact with the White House.
I think there is more to this than simply Germany’s declining to take part in the attacks on Syria. When Trump was elected, Merkel took the lead in offering only grudging congratulations through gritted teeth, and was only too happy to self-righteously bash the 45th president during her re-election campaign. Trump is particularly sensitive to this sort of criticism, but is no stranger to handling brazen hypocrisy from ageing women whose own house stinks to high-heaven. Trump is a smart guy in many ways, and will know damned well what sort of corruption is going on in German companies with the blessing of the German government. After all, the VW scandal broke on his watch; you can be sure he asked questions about it. And this is smart politics:
Merkel’s cold shoulder contrasts with Trump’s attitude to French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he has invited to Washington next week for a state visit. Merkel’s team is still trying to finalize the chancellor’s visit to the White House later that same week.
The French did not hesitate for a moment in supporting the U.S., and Macron was superb, said the official. Macron and Trump have a great relationship, the official added.
When Macron was elected, everyone assumed this youngster with no experience would fall into line and do whatever Merkel told him to do. But Macron, perhaps because he already has one older woman in his life telling him what to do, had other ideas. He surprised everyone by rolling out the red carpet for Trump, neatly sidestepping any suggestion he was not his own man, elevating France, and leaving Merkel somewhat isolated. Trump, to his credit, played along and relations between France and the US are probably at their highest point since the D-Day landings. Or since the Iraq War, anyway.
This isn’t to say that France is about to abandon Germany and the EU project, but it did undermine Merkel, who is only still in office by the skin of her teeth. Now we have France, the UK, and US cooperating on military strikes against Syria, Merkel is finding herself increasingly out on a limb, which might explain the timing of these revelations over Gazprom. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a minority in Germany, the EU, and abroad who have long-waited for an opportunity to expose the corrupt mess that is German industry, but can’t while Merkel is still in charge. Now she’s wobbling, some might be making their move. I think we can expect more of this.