Die Zeit, the German good quality newspaper, asked me three questions on Dr Schäuble. I obliged them with the answers that follow. (Predictably, some news outlets went out of their way to distort them. Such is life these days…)
1. If you would explain to a teenager, maybe your own daughter, what your relationship to the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble looks like – what would you tell her?
I would tell my daughter that it is, from my perspective, a multi-layered relationship. There is a sense of awe that I feel from meeting with a legendary figure whose work I have been following critically for decades. Then there is a strong urge to counter his overarching approach to common problems regarding Europe. Additionally, there is some frustration at not having the opportunity to discuss in a different setting; to stage these meetings in a proper federal, democratic context in which arguments, rather than relative power, would play a more prominent role.
2. What are the European topics you probably could agree on with Mr Schäuble?
That Europe needs a political union and that, without it, our monetary union is problematic.
3. Do you think Mr Schäuble makes mistakes in his analysis of the Greek situation? If yes, which ones?
Yes I do (as I am sure he thinks that I err in my analysis). Primarily, he associates past Greek governments with the Greek people; as if the former reflect the character of the latter. And he does not appreciate how helpful it would be for mainstream Northern Europe to find a modus vivendi with a movement (like SYRIZA in Greece) which may be very critical of European institutions but which is profoundly pro-European and eager to help bring Europe closer together.