The World from Berlin: 'The US Is Hypocritical when It Lectures Europe'
The closing group photos from the G-20 meeting in Mexico show the world's top leaders smiling in a show of unity. But German observers say the happy family shots belie the serious problems the world economy faces -- and the mudslinging that went on during the summit.
US President Barack Obama met with European leaders on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on Tuesday.
It's another wait-and-see game for the euro, as world leaders wait for euro leaders -- in particular German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- to come up with further proposals to shore up the common currency. Though there are lots of other economic problems in the world -- including the expanding US debt and trade barriers that have yet to fall -- the leaders of the industrialized world and key developing countries managed to concentrate nearly exclusively on the euro crisis during the G-20 summit at the Mexican resort of Los Cabos.
Merkel was certainly in the hot seat, once again, as many nations pressed her to do more for the euro -- at a time when many Germans feel their country has already done too much.
European leaders were also annoyed that their problems consistently grab the headlines, while many other countries have equally serious issues to deal with. They were quick to point out the financial crisis did not start in Europe, but in the United States.
But in the end, the leaders attempted to gloss over their differences, praising Merkel for her efforts as the two-day conference ended on an upbeat tone. Now Merkel's partners -- and the markets -- are waiting for the EU summit at the end of this month to see what else is in store to save the common currency.
On Wednesday, German commentators defended the country against foreign critics but also argued that little or no progress was made at the G-20 summit. They say such gatherings are not conducive to serious political debate, which is sorely needed these days.
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"The euro crisis, which has a large destructive potential for the world economy, was reduced to a hiccup-sized problem in the summit declaration -- for one simple reason: When it comes to economics alone, the Americans, the Chinese, the Japanese and the Brazilians are all mired in their own problems. This creates a situation in which one country is always the sinner and the others only get a mild rebuke for their own misdeeds."
"The G-20 is actually the appropriate group in which to speak openly about major global problems. But now the summit has become so ritualized that it looks less like a serious discussion and more like a school classroom in which the children read their homework out to each other."
Financial daily Handelsblatt writes:
"It is rather hypocritical when the Americans and the British, whose own mountains of debt have reached a high point, try to lecture the Europeans. One number is sufficient to reveal what a bad tactic this is. At a time when the budget deficits of the US and Great Britain are about 8 percent, the euro-zone members have almost managed to bring their deficits as a whole down to 3 percent.
"Was Los Cabos for Angela Merkel all talk and no action? The G-20 cannot fulfill its proclaimed goal, made when the organization was founded, of being a world economic government. And that's a good thing, because we in Europe cannot reach agreement on a single joint approach. Still, the forum is important because it gives the chancellor and the other Europeans a beneficial reality check."
The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:
"Despite a lot of dramatic words, the G-20 countries have for the time being postponed the rescue of the global economy. A few days before the next EU summit, the group of industrialized countries and developing nations have to powerlessly wait for what the Europeans will come up with now to save the euro."
"The G-20 is only as strong as the will of its members to work together cooperatively. That goes for the United States, which is resisting pressure to sort out its finances. That goes for the Europeans who, in the third year of their debt crisis, have still not convinced the financial markets that the euro in its current constellation can survive."
"The differences over the path to growth -- in America it's about demand, in Europe it's more supply side -- will immediately resurface if the Europeans, in the view of the Americans, don't deliver quickly."
-- Miriam Widman
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