Anyone who follows German media learns a lot about Merkel’s attitude & Co to the debt crisis. If you want to know how this is perceived in the rest of Europe, the best thing to do is to ask those who write about it every day: Berlin correspondents from abroad.

By Oliver Neuroth, SWR, ARD capital studio

"What is actually being played there?" – This is what many foreign correspondents who work for international newspapers, radio and television stations in Berlin ask. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble is called "the last real European in the federal government" who wants to save the euro. Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, seems like the cool pragmatist.

The first thing to notice is "the disagreement and doctoring around", says Hans-Peter Fritz from the Austrian broadcasting company ORF. "That you have the feeling that there is no real reliance on what is being said today because it may turn out to be completely different tomorrow." What is happening in German politics right now reminds the ORF man a lot of his homeland. "The policy of muddling along was invented in Austria. But it is something that Austrians would not necessarily expect from the Germans."

Complicated things from the country where everything works so well

After all, Germany is the largest economy in the European Union and has a kind of role model function for many. Also for Spain, one of the euro problem countries, says Juan Gómez, who writes for the Madrid daily newspaper "El País". "The Spaniards like Germany as a country where everything works well, where good products are made that people like to buy," says Gómez. The fact that everything is now becoming so complicated and "that the German government is so hesitant in solving the euro problems" is viewed as a disappointment.

"As if it were a sentence from the Bible"

A disappointment for which Merkel and Schauble are responsible. Spaniards do not see the two as just any politicians, Juan Gómez goes so far as to compare them with an oracle. "Everything that a German Chancellor or a Finance Minister from Germany says is scrutinized and interpreted as if it were a sentence from the Bible," says the "El País" correspondent.

Advice from the Kohl era is reaching its limits

But which direction should German politics go now? What is the right strategy in the euro crisis? For ORF journalist Fritz it is clear: "The classic advice from the Kohl era – just take a lot of money in your hand and drown the problem with a lot of money – just reach their limits," says Fritz and adds: "Although which is surely something that the rest of Europe would still like Germany to have. "

Finding a clear line, acting quickly and not getting caught up in contradictions – that is the recipe from Pascal Thibaut from France. He works for Radio France International. It would be better if Germany acted faster "instead of slowing down frequently and being reluctant," said Thibaut. "Also that there is more progress with a stronger integration of the financial policies of the EU countries."

Now it is up to Merkel and Schauble again to find a strategy at the euro summit in Brussels that the EU partners – and the foreign correspondents – can live with.


Merkel and the search for the euro rescue

From "Greece needs no help" to the option to exclude weak countries from the euro – to approving the 700 billion euro aid package: the story of Angela Merkel and the rescue package is the story of a 180 degree turn.

At the EU summit on December 10, 2009, Greece’s debt crisis was discussed for the first time. Angela Merkel warns against overrating: "Other countries also have problems," she says – and: "We will of course speak to those who have greater difficulties." Eurogroup leader Juncker assures: "Greece will not go bankrupt."