Europe’s Voters Wisely Stick With Frugal Leaders

Still, the aircraft’s manufacturer has questioned how a continent pulled apart by weak finances and policy rifts will address future conflicts like Syria, Libya or Mali – and in turn how readily nations will co-operate on large defense procurements. “I think we are further away from a common foreign and security policy than at any point in the last 20 years. I do not believe we will see a meaningful (one) in the next 20 years,” Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus parent EADS, said last week in a speech on transatlantic security. “I do not assume in my strategic planning that in the next 10 to 15 years there will be any new major European projects in our sphere of activity. I see governments are even trying to cut or reduce projects that previously been agreed,” Enders said. The A400M was designed to meet a shortfall in military transport capacity among seven NATO nations: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey. But the 20 billion euro project went more than 5 billion euros over budget, forcing buyer nations to agree a 3.5 billion euro bailout in 2010, part of which is supposed to be repaid from export royalties. Many analysts say the region’s financial crisis has exacerbated divisions and dampened interest in projects that have a habit of running heavily over-budget. “We will go through a phase now where there is not only little collaboration but also little investment in new products,” said independent defense analyst Howard Wheeldon. A recent decision to halt production of the Boeing (BA.N) C-17 strategic jet-powered transporter, a rival to the A400M, breathed life into hopes for new export orders for the plane. Until now, the only export customer is Malaysia, with four planes on order. South Africa canceled an order. Airbus sees a market for several hundred aircraft.

Her Christian Democratic Union obtained 41.5 percent of the votes cast, its best result since 1990, five seats short of a majority in the Bundestag. Her success should give us pause to reconsider what has happened in Europe since the global financial crisis erupted in September 2008. Contrary to what most of our loud commentariat would have us believe, austerity or fiscal responsibility is apparently popular. Merkels success shows what has been wrong in so much of the public debate about the global financial crisis. Let us step back for a moment and see what Merkel has accomplished. More than anybody else, she is responsible for having kept together the European Union and the euro area. No country has abandoned the euro. Considering that the total public debt of the 17 euro countries was about 91 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, she has faced up to the need to limit its increase. She has been forced to participate in the bailouts of no fewer than eight of the 28 EU member countries since October 2008. Merkel has also contributed to the groundwork for stronger EU financial institutions. Evident Truths At the time, the actions by Merkel and the EU appeared too slow and half-hearted. But mistakes are always made in crises, and successful politicians keep diverse constituencies on board, as she has managed to do.