In 2012, hundreds gathered to protest in central Madrid, waving banners and saying "Merkel Go Home" and "No To A German Europe". One Spanish economist who took part in the protest said: “The German financial mafia is taking Spaniards hostage."
In Athens demonstrators dressed up in Nazi uniforms and gas masks. One Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, published a front-page picture of Merkel under the headline “Fourth Reich”. Banners outside the parliament building in Nicosia read: “Merkel Stole Our Savings.”
The Telegraph noted in 2014 that Germany came to the rescue of its weaker European neighbors begrudgingly and with a set of fairly harsh terms. Many economists saw those terms—an insistence that the debtor countries cut deficits and spending as well as raise taxes—as directly contributing to widespread job losses and a dramatic slump in standards of living in Europe.
Detractors of Germany said many of the austerity measures imposed were avoidable and have, in turn, created a “German Europe”—one where Berlin rules the roost, and uses its economic might to dictate the rules of the game to all others.
A chorus of European capitals, anxious to avoid clashes their own Eurosceptic citizens, stressed that the Brexit vote should be seen as a wake-up call for a Union that was increasingly losing touch with its people. [emphasis mine]
In a brief televised statement, French President François Hollande said the vote would put Europe to the test: “To move forward, Europe cannot act as before.”
The Financial Times dissected the EU Referendum debacle facing German Chancellor Angela Merkel in this way:
Many EU voters share Britons’ antipathy to the Euro bureaucracy. Germany must play the central role, given its political weight.
There is a problem. Ms Merkel has tackled the four recent challenges—the global financial shock, the Greek rescue, the Ukraine conflict and the refugee crisis—by taking the lead and forcing others to follow.
This has generated intense opposition, for example in southern Europe over German-led austerity and Russian sanctions, and in Eastern Europe over refugees.Ms Merkel has shielded herself with allies. But with the UK leaving, the list of heavyweight partners shrinks. The EU is losing one of its big three states, a country with deep diplomatic and military experience, and a voice for market-oriented deals.
If Germany now starts giving orders even more than it does already, it will be more vulnerable to charges of hegemony.
Merkel spoke at a press conference today expounding on the highly exalted view the Brussels bureaucrats have of themselves saying, “Citizens of every EU member state have misgivings about the EU. Now it is the task of the remaining 27 members to convince their voters of the benefits that being part of the EU brings.
The Chancellor also spoke of maintaining a “close and fair relationship” with the UK after it leaves the Union. But she also warned Britain that it must respect all its commitments to the EU until the day it officially leaves.
Video Hat Tip: McNorman’s Weblog