Since November of last year the European Commission has been actively considering how to create “Stability Bonds” that would put the full faith and credit of the EU (i.e., Germany) behind at least part of the national debts of the member states. Taken individually, some of these debts are hopelessly high. Added together and compared with total euro-zone GDP, they are manageable. What stands in the way is not French socialism or Greek populism. It is quite simply German complacency.
Life in Berlin is good. In Munich, the capital of the German manufacturing machine, it is even better. You should try explaining to the average Bavarian beer drinker at the Stammtisch why he needs to get ready to finance an annual transfer to the Mediterranean countries of up to 8 percent of German GDP. I never get very far.
Here, then, is the twist in my tale of national character. For two generations, the Germans really did want to take over Europe—by force. But today, when they could do so peacefully, they can’t be bothered.