Angela Merkel has an interview in the Financial Times today. Unfortunately the transcript is subscription only. This is a pity, since to some extent she defines the kind of Europe she would like to see:
In an interview with the Financial Times, Angela Merkel, leader of the Christian Democrat Union, on Wednesday issued a clarion call for economic reform in Europe based on countries borrowing successful policies from one another. ?If I look at Scandinavia, for instance, I see we still have a long way to go in decoupling our social security system from labour; if I look at central and eastern European countries, I see I still have a long way to go in reforming my tax system; and when I look at the UK, I see I still have much to do to make my labour market more flexible.?
Ms Merkel’s references to central European countries and to the UK are striking, since the former are identified with low corporate taxes and in some cases, such as Slovakia with a ?flat tax? system. The deregulated UK labour market is often demonised by continental European politicians as alien to the European social model.
Her remarks provide clear backing for Tony Blair, prime minister and current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, in his campaign to put economic reform at the centre of the EU’s effort to reconnect with European voters after their rejection of its planned constitution in France and the Netherlands in the past two months.
The big difficulty I see with her proposals is that they will put more of the burden of financing government on consumer taxes (VAT), and this will not help Germany lift domestic consumer demand which is one of the ‘big issues’.