On the thirtieth anniversary of the Helmut Kohl’s appointment as German Chancellor, everyone has been saying how great were his achievements.
They were not great.
If anything, he is the person responsible for the mess that Europe lives with today.
His ‘big idea’ was to reunite East and West Germany when the Soviet Empire fell.
We could and should have let East Germany go away but he insisted in German unity and that this was essential to European unity.
It turns out to be quite the opposite, as It planted the seeds of today’s euro crisis.
By transferring the capital of Germany to Berlin, West German politicians became immersed in a political culture that is closer to Moscow than to Brussels, Paris or London.
A different mindset came into play, and Germany no longer saw itself as part of the EU, but as an independent power on a par with Russia, the USA and China.
Had we stayed as a Federal Republic, we would have continued to feel ourselves as an equal partner and would now be acting like the Netherlands: critical, but constructive. We would have handled the euro crisis deftly and fiscal union would already be the reality, the Greek debt written off and confidence back in the system but, after the vast expense of reunification, Germany just has not been able to contemplate the sacrifice that these actions would entail.
Kohl dreamed of complete European unity but instead, thanks to his misguided actions, he may now live to see its destruction.
Meanwhile, here's ...
Things worth reading: the European View (15)
Debit cards continue to win market share from credit cards –Capgemini/RBS/Efma, October 10th, 2012
The 2012 World Payments Report has just been released. Its key findings are:
- Debit cards continue to win market share from credit cards;
- Brazil is now the second-highest ranking country by payment volumes after the US;
- Payment volumes continue to be resilient, showing growth of 7.1% in 2010;
- In 2010, payment volumes grew fastest in developing countries (nearly 17%);
- Regulation can be both an obstacle and a driver to innovation.
What drives innovation? A new report provides some answers – Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems, October 2012
In order to obtain an overview of payments innovation globally, the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS), recently published the report ‘Innovations in Retail Payments'. Some of the key findings of the report are:
- Technological developments necessary, but not sufficient
- Regulation is not just a European issue
- Cooperation and standardisation are key factors for successful innovation
Review of the Payment Services Directive (PSD) is under way - European Commission, October 1st, 2012
The Commission is currently reviewing the impact of the PSD on the internal market with a view to proposing a revision. Specifically, the Commission is reviewing whether
- additional currencies outside the EEA should be included in the PSD,
- provisions which are currently categorized as “exceptions” should be removed,
- electronic money institutions (EMIs) and payment institutions (PIs) should be merged into one category of payment services provider (PSP),
- new players in the payments market should have access to bank account information,
- non-banks should have access to payment and settlement systems
The Commission has thus published an issues paper in which it invites feedback from stakeholders in the market by the end of November.
The social costs of retail payments in the EU amounts to €45 billion, nearly 1% of the combined GDP of 13 European countries – European Central Bank, October 2012
How much does it cost to make a payment? A new report released by the European Central Bank (ECB) analyses the social and private costs of making retail payments in 13 European countries and discovers that they are substantial, amounting to around €45 billion, or almost 1% of their combined GDP. If extrapolated to cover the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU), these costs would be around €130 billion.
Responses to consultation on shadow banking have now been published –European Commission, October 2012
In March 2012 the European Commission issued a consultation paper on “shadow banking”. The 140 responses by public authorities, associations and individual contributors have now been published and can be viewed on the Commission website.
Recommendations on reforming the structure of the EU banking sector have been published – European Commission, October 2012
The so-called Liikanen Group (named after Erkki Liikanen, Governor of the Bank of Finland) has been charged to present recommendations re. reforming the EU banking sector. The Group recommends actions in the five following areas:
- Mandatory separation of proprietary trading and other high-risk trading activities,
- Possible additional separation of activities conditional on the recovery and resolution plan,
- Possible amendments to the use of bail-in instruments as a resolution tool,Document6
- A review of capital requirements on trading assets and real estate related loans, and
- A strengthening of the governance and control of banks.
Twenty years of European Single Market – European Commission, October 2012
2012 marks the twentieth anniversary of the EU. Here are some facts and figures:
- Originally there were just 12 Member States; currently there are 27 European Union Member States. In 2013, Croatia will join the Single Market.
- The Single Market was initially open to 345 million people in 1992. It can now be accessed by over 500 million people.
- The EU has 495 million inhabitants and has thus the world’s 3rd largest population after China and India. By surface area, France is the biggest EU country and Malta the smallest.
- The EU has the largest GDP of any economy in the world.
- At a global level the EU is the second largest region, behind Asia, by number of Internet users, with more than 380 million users – 73% of all EU households are connected to the internet.