Everyone: ‘Germany’s the greatest!’ Greeks: ‘No, actually, we’re the greatest.’

A new poll out from Pew today shows that despite Germany’s insistence on austerity and reluctance to deepen its financial exposure to its neighbors, it remains by far the most respected country in Europe. Citizens of every European country rank Germans as the hardest-working Europeans — well, every country but one:

The British, Germans, Spanish, Poles, and Czechs all see Greece as the laziest country and Germany as the most industrious. The Greeks say they’ve got it backwards. (And to be fair, they’ve got some evidence on their side: In 2010, the average Greek worker worked 2,109 hours, to just 1,419 for the average German worker.)

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Merkel bumbles her way through

This is a very well-written take on Angela Merkel’s clumsy approach to the euro crisis and politics more broadly.

Merkel gets wet

Yesterday, as I was watching the Bundestag debate and vote on TV, I was surprised to see a man in a hoodie walk up to Chancellor Angela Merkel in the parliament chamber, tap her on the shoulder, and start talking to her casually. You don’t really see that with President Obama.

But you really don’t see this with President Obama: Read more of this post

The markets, the masses and Merkel

The euro zone may be just over a week from collapse, and the whole world’s waiting for Germany to allow the issuing of eurobonds or to give the European Central Bank the green light to take a leading role in combating the crisis. Yet so far, Chancellor Merkel’s refusing to budge. Here’s the LA Times’ take on the showdown, to which I contributed reporting.

It’s no fun being Angela Merkel these days

If she’s hesitant to have Germany take a leading role in tackling the euro crisis, she’s accused of dragging Europe down with her timidity. And if she does attempt to tackle the crisis, she’s met with rants like this:

‘Be careful what you wish for’ goes green

When I was in Berlin last year, I wrote a story for Foreign Policy magazine about the comeback of nuclear power in Europe. Germany, the leader of the anti-nuclear movement, where strong majorities supported phasing out nuclear power, had just undergone a shift. The Merkel government had decided to prolong the operating life of the country’s reactors by an average of 12 years. Elsewhere on the continent, nuclear’s future seemed strong as well.

On March 11, 2022, six months after the story went to print, my thesis became completely obsolete. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan led the Merkel government to reverse course, shut down half the country’s reactors immediately, and pledge to phase out the remainder over the next decade. Environmentalists cheered the decision. It was a more definitive victory than they could have imagined last year.

Except maybe not. Both grounds on which German environmentalists pushed for the end of nuclear power now appear shaky. On the green front, the nuclear shutdown has already caused carbon emissions to increase by 25 million tons per year, since Germany’s replacing much of its clean nuclear power with dirty coal. But the biggest winner in the phaseout is nuclear power abroad, which now counts Germany among its best customers. No longer a net exporter of power, Germany is importing nuclear power from neighbors like France and the Czech Republic. And some of this power is coming from plants with a history of malfunctions, just across the German border. On the safety front, too, then, Germans are probably not better off now.

Which is all a long way of saying that I wrote a story for The New Republic on this topic that was published this morning. If you’re interested in a more thorough treatment of the subject, check it out!

Update: And right on cue, the Czechs are more than ready to take advantage, to the chagrin of their German and Austrian neighbors.

Merkel Is God!

Or so say the German media in the wake of the latest debt deal. Here’s a post I wrote on the love-fest (with caveats) for the LA Times.

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