History does not repeat itself …

… but that does not mean that tragedies are not recurrent.

On different occasions I raised my scepticism in respect of euro- or corona bonds. To be clear from the outset, I agree with the notion some kind of European finance mechanism has to be put into place as matter of solidarity in tackling the current crisis. However, we know from the not too distant history, namely the way in which Europe and in particular Germany interpreted solidarity in connection with the developments in Greece, that mechanisms can be interpreted in very different ways. Obviously this is what we see already now in connection with European money possibly spent in the spirit of solidarity: The German constitutional court in the ruling of the 5th of May urged the ECB to maintain a specific understanding of proportionality. The highest German Court concluded

“by unconditionally pursuing the PSPP’s monetary policy objective – to achieve inflation rates below, but close to, 2% – while ignoring its economic policy effects, the ECB manifestly disregards the principle of proportionality”

Seen in this light, my scepticism is possibly justified in the same way as it had been in the context of the so-called European anti-poverty programmes that had been performed from the 1970s to the mid-1990s. The European institutions did not have a proper competence in the area of combatting poverty – then European ruling, asked for not least by the German government, resulted in a reinterpretation of combating poverty as a matter of solely employment policy, too often interpreted as workfare – I commented briefly on that in an article in the German Nachrichtendienst des Vereins fuer offentliche und private Fuersorrge under the Title Subsidiaritaet und die falsche Zurueckhaltung[1]

– I am afraid, that cum grano salis, the same may happen today with the financial instruments: what is good in the short run may become the first chapter in the new book of expansionist (German) economic and social policy.

It is worth a side-remark, highlighting the irony of history: it could well be that Christine Lagarde is now victim of exactly those measures that she pursued in the context of the Greek crisis. History does not repeat itself, but that does not mean tragedies of the same kind do not appear again.

[1]                (Subsidiarity and the Wrong Reserve or: The Meaning of European Programmes Combating Poverty (Subsidiariät und die falsche Zurückhaltung oder: Über den Sinn europäischer Armutsprogramme); in: Nachrichtendienst des Deutschen Vereins für öffentliche und private Fürsorge, Frankfurt/M., Issue 2/1995: pp. 79-86a

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