The disclosure of systematic cheating by one of Germany’s most iconic companies has shaken Germany’s conception of itself as well as its claim to moral leadership of the Continent.

During the Greek debt crisis and ongoing migrant crisis, Germany has emerged as the dominant actor in Europe, lecturing others on the virtues of thrift and generosity. As Alison Smale writes, “its right to lead, based on a narrative of self-sacrifice and obedience to rules, was generally acknowledged” by most Europeans and onlookers abroad.

The effects of the VW scandal on Germany are likely to play out for some time, even as German leaders tried to distance themselves from the car company’s misdeeds and to mitigate the damage to the industry that accounts for one in seven jobs in Germany.

Read more at The New York Times


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