It looks like the world’s biggest democracy is entering a dark period.
Chris Bertram has two excellent postings on Europe today. First he considers the impact of EU enlargement: “enlargment, coupled with the projected new European Constitution, is arguably more important for the long-term than anything else happening at the moment”. He also ponders French hostility to Turkey joining the EU (at the Copenhagen summit the French, with tacit German assistance, scuppered the plans of Tony Blair and others to set an early date for Turkish accession talks): “The claim that Turkey is not a European country presupposes some definition of what Europe is. If that definition is institutional, and if France itself is the archetype of a ‘European’ country, then it looks as if Turkey is more ‘European’ than, well, Britain.”
Brad DeLong does a back-of-the-envelope calculation to reckon the average person is 435 times better off than 500 years ago.
I’m unclear whether anyone outside Germany is paying much attention to how much is going wrong. According to the Financial Times, business leaders reckon Germany is facing its biggest crisis since the war. The head of semiconductor group, Ulrich Schumacher, says he may have to move his company headquarters out of Germany because of punitive taxes. And recently re-elected chancellor Gerhard Schroeder seems to have forgotten to have a plan about what to do after the election.
Germany is the world’s number three economy and Europe’s most populous country. As long as it remains mired in the muck, it’s very hard to see Europe as a whole dragging itself out.