Germany could stick to austerity policy

Even before the coalition talks in Germany begin the CDU, CSU, FDP and Greens have agreed to stick to the "black zero" policy. The concept, which makes a balanced budget the top priority and avoids new debt, provokes strong reactions from commentators. Is austerity the right approach for Europe's future?

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Spiegel Online (DE) /

Economising now would be silly

Not investing now will put Germany's whole future at risk, blogger Sascha Lobo stresses on Spiegel Online:

“The next legislative period would be the silliest time to economise in pretty much every respect: digital, economic, social, scientific, political, cultural, and in terms of Europe, integration, education, security and migration, and the list goes on. ... The future is made of money. A lot of money. Therefore the question cannot be: what's left over for shaping the future? It has to be: what kind of future do we want? And then we can start calculating the investments. Giving the 'black zero' primacy over any concept for the future isn't likely to produce the desired result.”

Blog Pitsirikos (GR) /

A balanced budget at the expense of others

The employees of the Finance Ministry have said farewell to ex-finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble with a special act: dressed entirely in black they formed a "black zero". But this political concept is no cause for celebration, blogger Pitsirikos comments:

“Germany's balanced budget was achieved at the cost of the collapse of the economies of the southern European countries. Schäuble's nationalist economic approach has led to the rise of nationalist movements and far-right parties in Europe and to the Brexit. Don't the employees of the finance ministry realise this? Of course they do. But they don't care. They get very good salaries and they don't care about other Europeans or even about about the many Germans who are victims of Schäuble's balanced budget.”

Les Echos (FR) /

France would also benefit from debt cut

France should take Germany's balanced budget as an example, Les Echos counters:

“Our governments have difficulties creating the room to manoeuvre that would allow them to reduce the fiscal pressure and boost buying power and economic activity. Although France is a long way from eliminating its public debt this is a good time to put a stop to one anomaly: social debt. Of the roughly 260 billion euros of debt accumulated in 20 years, half has been paid off and the rest could be paid off by 2024 - provided growth continues and the government doesn't overspend. That would put back into the budget the 15 billion euros in social security contributions used each year to amortise the social debt rather than to cover medical costs or pensions.”