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Germany must start taking the lead if Europe’s battered economies are to recover, says The Economist, but is unwilling, due to the weight of history, the perception that the “laziness of southern Europeans” is the cause of the eurozone crisis, and the strategic approach of guiding “from the rear”.

However, this combination of barriers does the continent’s economy and politics more harm than good, says the British economic weekly: “Across southern Europe austerity policies are associated with Mrs Merkel,” it argues, citing a recent survey finding 60 to 78 percent of populations in southern states believe European integration has harmed their economies.

The Economist argues that now that fiscal austerity is being “grudgingly” relaxed, Merkel could work to establish a “proper banking union” and take “a host of pro-growth reforms” to encourage privatisation and boost public and private investment in southern Europe.