How fair is the effort to save the euro if the people living in the countries that receive aid are wealthier than the citizens of donor countries like Germany? A debate over a redistribution of the burdens is long overdue.
The images we see from the capitals of Europe’s crisis-ridden countries are confusing to say the least. In the Cypriot capital Nicosia, for example, thousands protested against the levy on bank deposits, carrying images of Hitler and anti-Merkel signs, one of which read: “Merkel, your Nazi money is bloodier than any laundered money.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was greeted by a similar scene when she visited Athens in October 2012. An older man with a carefully trimmed moustache and pressed trousers stood in Syntagma Square. The words on the sign he was carrying sharply contrasted with his amiable appearance: “Get out of our country, bitch.”
Despite these abuses, the protesters and all of Merkel’s other critics in Rome, Madrid, Nicosia and Athens agree on one thing: Germany should pay for the euro bailout, as much as possible and certainly more than it has paid so far.
They argue that Germany is a rich country that has benefited more than all others from the introduction of the euro, and that it has flooded other European countries with its exports, becoming more prosperous at their expense.
Germans Own Less than Those Asking for Money
But there is also a second image of Germany, one that’s based on numbers, not emotions. The figures were obtained by the European Central Bank (ECB) and released last week. This image depicts a country whose households own less on average than those that are asking for its money.
In this ranking of assets, Cyprus is in second place Europe-wide, while Germany ranks much lower, even lower than two other crisis-ridden countries, Spain and Italy. >> Read More