Stephanie Flanders: A lot of people looking
at Germany in a funny kind of way would say that also the German people are ending up
on the other side of this transaction with a similar view, with more European — with
more skepticism about Europe, more resentment of the direction that the single currency
has taken. And what do you think the German perspective on this is?
>>Gabor Steingart: I think if we talk about European money and about bailout and David
is talking about debt forgiveness, we are talking about German taxpayers’ money. That’s
why I’m the only one here wearing a tie, ’cause I have to — I have to — that’s good.
I have to defend the German stability culture. I think it’s grown into hyperinflation. We
have made this experience. And we have to make sure that the European Union and the
whole idea of Europe is not built on sand. And it will be built on sand if we give more
debt to countries which are in a deep shit — sorry to say this. And right now, we have
made the crisis even deeper. And we have not solved the problem.
So I agree also with the secretary of finance, we have to develop a kind of growth policy.
It’s not enough to talk about bailouts. We have to talk about growth policy for the sinner
states, about the southerners. That’s the way we see it in Germany.
What we have done in World War II, after the
Marshall Plan, the Americans helped us to grow again, that’s what we did with the East
Germans after reunification. We spent far more money for fellow countrymen in these
parts than for Greece. 160 billion every year for one decade we gave to East Germany to
develop this part of our country. And it worked well. See, look at our growth rate. Look at
our welfare state. It’s not in the best shape, but it’s not destroyed.
And we have given 110 billion to Greece so far. We are talking now about a second package.
I hope the secretary of finance will be shy a little bit giving away German taxpayers’
money. But, anyway, it’s not that amount of money.
And to bring it in the right relation, Greece as a portion of the European GDP is 2.5. 2.5
is the percentage of the Greece economy on the European GDP. That should be a problem
we can fix. So I don’t see it that pessimistic. If we talk about crisis, yes, it’s a crisis.
But you also can call it — and we replace the “crisis” by the word “birth announcement.”
I see a birth of a new state of the United States of Europe growing through crisis. And
we’re in the middle of the delivery process. It’s bloody, it’s large, it’s risky, and the
baby is not out yet. [ Laughter ]
>>Gabor Steingart: And there’s always the possibility of failure.
But I think we are in a very — in the making of history. And we are part of this.
And I think everybody should be responsible, and the German government and the German taxpayers
are responsible. They don’t give it away with great happiness, but right now I think the
German government is responsible in trying to fix the problem.
>>Stephanie Flanders: That’s a very interesting — it is an upbeat perspective, but it is
classically, I referred to it at the beginning, the argument, there has always been, by — among
the supporters of European integration, that in a sense you put the cart before the horse.
You have the European project come first. It creates a crisis, which the politicians
have to fix. And then that drives political integration.
>>Gabor Steingart: It starts with the big crisis after World War II. The big mess was
done by Germans. The World War II was the beginning of the European idea. And it went
on with the Cold War and with the threat of the Soviet Union and all the satellite states.
So we worked through this period of crisis, political crisis, now money, currency crisis.
That’s part of our genetic culture to be confronted with these kind of crisis and to solve them.