"The biggest economy in the euro area, Germany's, is in a bad way. And its ills are a main cause of the euro's own weakness. [...] Thus the biggest economic problem for Europe today is how to revive the German economy."
This excerpt from The Economist in June 1999 illustrates that not so long ago, the "sick man in Europe" was Germany. The phenomenon of successive, recession-related waves of unemployment that ended up accumulating was considered to be a European problem, and Germany served as the prime example for the pattern of high and rising unemployment. The country faced severe problems in its labor market, which have often been linked to the high level of employment protection, high labor costs, and the strictly regulated labor market.