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Home » Country in Focus, Europe Issue, Features

Country in Focus the Europe Issue: Germany ‘a lot of untapped potential’

Submitted by on November 29, 2011 – 10:35 pmNo Comment

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.

Julien Rath, a second year journalism student with a personal passion for everything Europe, has given Synchronicity an insight into the financial pinch Germany currently finds itself in.

Born in Duisburg, Germany, Julien moved to America when he was five and returned to his native country as a teenager. After spending his youth in Germany, always being known as “The American” or “The French”, from his mother’s side, he set eyes on an education in his main language English. Not being able to secure a loan or funding, the States were crossed off his list and he came to London.

On living in Germany, Julien said: “Germany is a peculiar country. The first city I lived in was Bremen, northern Germany. There are big personality differences depending on where you live, in the north people are closed up and not very open to new things. It takes a while to get used to them. Compared to England and the US, university fees are very small; 500 euros per year, but the quality shows that. They also still have different lengths for subjects; Medicine is six years, Engineering four.”

Regarding politics, Julien feels most people have a wrong image: “Germany is quite left-wing, a contrast to the normal picture of an extreme right Germany. The Right does come out at elections, but they are detested, with more left-wing protesters turning up at their meetings to protest than actual right-wing members. Politics is at a stalemate, it hasn’t moved since 2002, when the socialist party was removed after ten years. Merkel’s party didn’t even campaign at the last election, they knew they’d win. All governments are coalitions, no single party has won in decades. They have a kind of two-party system with the two biggest parties, but there is always a third, smaller kingmaker.”

We then came to the subject of the hour, finance: “Germany has a lot of money, under Schröder, in the good years, they tightened their belts and saved a lot. But Greece, Portugal, Ireland and soon Italy want the money. To understand the bailout situation, we have to go back to the creation of the eurozone. Helmut Kohl, Merkel’s mentor, basically created it together with France. They pushed for the union, and now they have to live up to it, it’s their own fault.”

Julien predicts a tighter EU for the near future: “There will be a two-speed Europe, with a deeper integration of the 17 eurozone members on one side, and some of the weaker members of the remaining ten might have to leave. Right now, Greece and the others will get their money, they’ve passed austerity measures. What we will probably see soon is direct EU intervention on government level, but that’s what is needed.”

This is how Julien summed up Germany: “It is a Good country it could be better but it does have a lot of untapped potential. The people are a bit slow and that  holds them back. Switching French and German politics would be an interesting move and it might make them a bit more dynamic.”

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