Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leadership for Europe!

Finally someone has said what is all too obvious: the apprentices running around with the mantle of government positions casually and stylishly draped over their shoulders are none too sure what they need to do, for Europe or their individual countries. And indeed, the tasks are the same for both; what is good the European Union is all that is good for any individual member country.
Now former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has spoken up and put his finger in the wound of dilettantism. Here, a few excerpts in English, followed by the links to the original English version of the interview with David Marsh and the German and English translations.

Schmidt: Leadership wanted in Europe

I would say that, in general, Europe lacks leaders. It lacks people in high positions in the national states or in the European institutions with sufficient overview of domestic and international questions and sufficient power of judgment.
Additionally, the present German government is composed of people who are learning their business on the job. They have no previous experience in world political affairs or in world economic affairs. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble is a man whom I wish well and for whom I have great personal respect. He well understands budgetary and taxation problems. But when it comes to international money markets or capital markets or the banking system or the supervision of banks or shadow banks, this is all new to him. The same goes for [Chancellor Angela] Merkel. This is not to say anything negative about Schäuble or anything negative about Merkel, but we need people in high office who understand the economic world of today.
One very important figure was [former European Commission President] Jacques Delors . He has been replaced by people whose name one doesn’t really know. And the same goes for permanent secretaries and the chairmen of various commissions and for prime ministers and — what is his name — [European Council President Herman] Van Rompuy? And he has a so-called foreign secretary — a British lady, her name is not necessary to know either. The same goes, more or less, for the European Parliament. The only figure who sticks out in the European institutions is [European Central Bank President Jean-Claude] Trichet. I’m not sure how strong he is inside the European Central Bank, But, as far as I can see, he hasn’t made a major mistake so far.
One of the weakest points in the global economy is that there is no control of the behavior of financial managers. You can divide mankind into three categories. In the first category are normal people like you and me. We may have once stolen an apple from a neighbor’s trees when we were boys, or we may have taken a bar of chocolate from a supermarket without paying for it. But otherwise we are dependable, normal human beings. Then secondly you have a small category of people with a criminal character. And thirdly you have investment bankers. That includes all the dealers and the deal makers. They all sail under different names, but they’re all the same.

Helmut Schmidt im Interview: „Im tiefsten Herzen sind die Bundesbanker Reaktionäre“ (bei Handelsblatt.com am 07.12.2010 veröffentlicht)

Entretien avec Helmut Schmidt, ancien chancelier allemand (1974-1982) : "L'Europe manque de dirigeants"

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