Thursday, June 28, 2012

Europe:  In Former East Germany, Anxious Residents Resent Paying for Europe's Problems

Germany may be Europe's most powerful economy. But its prosperity is so uneven that Poles just across the border see it differently: as a place where housing is a bargain.
With unemployment higher in Loecknitz than anywhere else in Germany, a big house on a generous parcel of land runs just $90,000, real estate agents say. That is the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in nearby Szczecin, a burgeoning Polish city of 400,000 a half-hour away.

In the past, "it was always a one-way road," with Germans moving to Poland because of the difference in prices, said Krzysztof Wojciechowski, a professor at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder, a city that abuts Poland. Now, he said, the situation is reversed.

Anxiety in Germany's poorer areas is part of the reason the country has been reluctant to contribute more toward European rescue programs. Many Germans in this region say the notion that they should give over more money to pay away Europe's problems misjudges their own situation. And although the more urgent problems facing countries such as Greece and Spain have prompted other European leaders to call for greater German assistance, opinion polls show that most Germans approve of Merkel's unwillingness to dip deeper into her country's treasury.

Even now, many Germans see reunification as no more than a mixed success —- a tremendously expensive undertaking that brought prosperity to a few cities but left the countryside and smaller towns such as Loecknitz depopulated and economically depressed.

For more, see In Former East Germany, Anxious Residents Resent Paying for Europe's Problems by Michael Birnbaum, June 21, 2012 at The Washington Post.

No comments: