The Guardian... It used to be a reasonable source of opinion articles. But this is just a collection of cheap sensationalism and empty arguments.
I don't know that middle-aged German woman, but in my daily work I have to deal with many others. Germans who are forced to see how the price they have to pay for the privilege of having a hands-free scenario to exploit their enormous export resources is quickly revealing itself to be too high. In this mess they are truly not free of responsibility. It was them and the French that led the pro-EMU campaign for decades. 'The big fish will have an easier time eating the small fish if they're all in the same bowl', they said. And they had a point. But what if the small fish turns the water so dirty no one's able to swim in it?
That great nation the author talks about is indeed the victim of merciless attacks by the market and the rating agencies. But it is also, in the first place, a victim of its inoperacy and its irresponsible and chaotic disposition. Who is to blame? Well, I lost the little faith I had in Zapatero's government when they got rid of all kinds of commercial advertising in public television two years ago. How a heavily indebted government leading a stagnant economy could think eliminating private involvement and assuming all costs was a good idea is beyond me. But let's not fool ourselves: the government is not the only culprit. The average Spaniard sees a social welfare state as a sort of perennial Santa Claus that must (yes, MUST) pay for their studies, provide them with a house and award them a well-paid and stable job where they'll preferably do as little as possible. On exchange of what? 'Oh, hadn't thought about that'...
That is the main reason, I posit, for the disparity in economic development and performance between the two countries that article handles. Those middle-aged Germans are resented, and understandably so. Their country works so well because of them, because, contrary to their southern brothers, they understand they are doing themselves a favour when they , i.e., don't try to take advantage of their social services.
So, as a conclusion, I agree with the Finnish poster who said EU is a good thing, but EMU isn't. Not yet. In the long run, European nations will only benefit from each other if they are allowed to interact and cooperate. They will learn from each other, they have started to do that already. But European politicians (and here they are indeed the main responsibles) have tried to do too much, too early.