Europe’s deal with Greece was variously denounced as blackmail, an attack on national sovereignty and an end to the European dream. The accord’s detractors could at least agree on one thing: the chief culprit was Angela Merkel.
Having held sway in the unequal struggle with Alexis Tsipras over the terms of a third bailout, Merkel has ensured that the 19-nation euro area remains a club whose members abide by the rules or are shown the door. The question is what toll that stance has taken on her reputation and the extent of the damage to the international standing of Germany and Europe.
Shada Islam, director of policy at the Friends of Europe advisory group in Brussels, said that months of EU acrimony since Tsipras’s election in January as Greek premier at the head of an anti-austerity coalition has tarnished the bloc in the eyes of both its own citizens and globally.
“They reached a deal on Greece but at a huge cost,” Islam said by phone. “Merkel tried to play the middle ground but Schaeuble will be seen by some critics as the true villain of this piece.”
Both Merkel and Schaeuble have become hate figures in Greece, where comparisons with the World War II occupation by Nazi forces have become commonplace. In Germany, members of Merkel’s coalition have competed for outrage against a backdrop of the constant drumbeat of calls by the best-selling Bild newspaper for Greece to be ejected from the euro.
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