Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Martin Schulz on Habermas and the Euro Crisis

"Der Spiegel" (September 3, 2012) features an interview with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, in which he criticizes Jürgen Habermas's appeal for a new European policy:

Call for Political Union Now is 'Dramatic Mistake'


Spiegel: Mr. President, "Frankfurt School" philosopher Jürgen Habermas has said there are only two possible strategies for Europe: a return to national currencies, or a political union. Is he correct?

Schulz: Yes, we should have introduced a political union together with the euro. That's something we failed to do, and need to catch up on. But that doesn't help us at the moment.

Spiegel: Why not?

Schulz: There's no point whining about missed opportunities. What we need right now is to act quickly and in the short term. I can't accept us getting lost in theoretical debate in the current situation. A restructuring of the European Union isn't pressing at the moment -- what we need instead is to solve very difficult problems in a short space of time.

Spiegel: You mean the crisis in southern European countries?

Schulz: Yes. We need economic growth in Europe and we need to find a solution for the excessive interest rates that are making it difficult for many countries to get their own debt under control. That is the crucial task for the coming months.

Spiegel: Germany is more interested in discussing the introduction of a political union.

Schulz: That's a dramatic mistake. As if a structural change would solve these short-term problems. That's the line of argument from the German chancellor, from the finance minister …

Spiegel: … and from the entire leadership of Germany's Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Schulz: From everyone in national-level politics, in fact, and not only in Germany. To me it seems akin to sitting in an airplane that's experiencing serious turbulence, while in the cockpit, they're debating improvements to the engines. Of course we're also dealing with a systemic political crisis, but that doesn't help us with the turbulence we're experiencing at the moment: no economic growth in Greece and interest rate speculation against Spain, Italy and Portugal.

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