Government

A Lump Of Sugar Dissolving Into The Tea Of Europe

"You cannot have a single currency without a single state," Hankel says.

hide caption"You cannot have a single currency without a single state," Hankel says.

Winfried Rothermel/AP

Planet Money's Zoe Chace and Caitlin Kenney in Germany on a reporting trip. Zoe filed this dispatch this morning.

Twelve years ago, Wilhelm Hankel filed a lawsuit to try to stop Germany from joining the euro.

At the time, the lawsuit was seen as something of a joke. Now Hankel feels vindicated — bitterly so, he says, like a father who warns about the dangers of playing traffic before his son gets hurt playing in the street. (NB: This is a particularly apt analogy in Germany, where people wait for every red light to turn green as if they were getting paid to do it.)

Hankel — an economist who worked for the German government and the IMF before he became a full-time euroskeptic — was also one of the plaintiffs behind the recent lawsuit arguing that the Greek bailout violates the German constitution.

The country's Constitutional Court ruled on that suit this morning.

The bailout can go through, the court found — this time. The court agreed with the German government's argument that the emergency rescue package was a last-minute measure necessary to ensure the stabilty of the Euro.

But in the future, the court said, the government will have to get permission from the Bundestag's budget committee before sending money off to other struggling eurozone countries. That was something of a win for Hankel and his fellow plaintiffs, and could make future bailouts less likely.

Hankel told me this week that he'll keep fighting for Germany to leave the euro. His objection boils down to a single sentence: "You cannot have a single currency without a single state."

Hankel does not want the eurozone to become a single state. He and his fellow plaintiffs have warned of the "Sovietization" of Europe, with officials in Brussels issuing edicts that apply to the entire eurozone. The German government, Hankel says, seems to want to treat Germany like a cube of sugar dissolving into the tea of Europe.

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