Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

Germany's CDU lukewarm on Macron's EU vision

  • Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer could become Germany's next leader after Angela Merkel leaves politics, as she promised to do, in 2021 (Photo: CDU/Saxon-Anhalt)

Germany's anointed new leader has echoed France in calling for EU reform to combat populism, but with a stronger role for national governments and with little prospect of sharing German wealth.

The German vision was outlined in an article published on Sunday (10 March) by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer - the new head of German chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party and her likely successor.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • French president Emmanuel Macron outlined a more ambitious vision last week (Photo: Consilium)

French president Emmanuel Macron was "right" in calling for "urgent ... action" in his latest EU manifesto, published last week, Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Like him, she also focused on migration, security, climate change, and economic prosperity as a way to soothe voters' "anxiety" and "populist accusations" ahead of the European Parliament (EP) elections in May.

Macron had proposed a slew of new EU institutions in his text - a European Council for Internal Security to manage migration, a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies to stop Russian election meddling, a European Security Council on defence matters, a European Climate Bank to fund green energy projects, and a minimum European wage.

He went further to say leaders should renegotiate the EU treaties to make it happen.

He even suggested a new EU defence treaty with a Nato-style "operational mutual defence clause".

The CDU ideas were less radical, however.

"No version of a European superstate which can live up to the goal of a Europe made up of sovereign member states," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

"A new Europe cannot be founded without the nation states: they provide democratic legitimacy and identification," she added.

She did not rule out "amendments to the European treaties".

She also agreed with Macron that the Schengen free-travel area ought to involve migrant-sharing and a new EU border control force.

But in place of his European Council for Internal Security, she said: "each member state must make its own contribution to ... protecting its borders, and taking in migrants".

She made no mention of EU election security, describing Russia as a threat to its "neighbours" rather than the EU as such.

She also called for the creation of a European Security Council on defence that would involve the UK even after Brexit, but she made no mention of a Nato-type treaty and limited her ambition to the joint construction of a new "a common European aircraft carrier".

She also repeated a previous call - rejected by France - to convert its permanent seat on the UN Security Council into an EU one.

"In future, the EU should have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council," she said.

Macron's climate bank was relegated to an informal "European Climate Protection Pact" to be agreed by businesses and politicians.

And his ideas on a minimum wage, as well as his previously voiced ideas on deeper economic and monetary union were thrown under the bus.

"The communitarisation of debts, the Europeanisation of social systems, and the minimum wage would be the wrong approach," Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Taxation

At the same time, her wish-list said "we must close tax loopholes in Europe" that let global tech giants off the hook.

She also described "the taxation of the income of EU officials", which is close to zero, as an "anachronism".

The German leader-in-waiting hinted that she was open to ending consensus-based EU foreign policy decisions in favour of majority votes.

EU voters "feel a lack of clarity when, for instance, the EU requires a seeming eternity before it is able to arrive at a common understanding regarding events in Venezuela", she said, after Italy recently vetoed a joint EU statement on the crisis in the Latin American country.

Like Macron, Kramp-Karrenbauer took aim at nationalist-populist leaders in Central Europe, such as those in Hungary and Poland.

The "European way of life" meant "representative democracy, parliamentarianism, the rule of law, individual freedoms and the social market economy", she said.

Values

"There must be no doubt about the non-negotiable core of values and principles," she said, but "we must respect their [central European states'] approaches and their specific contribution to our common European history and culture," she added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer also echoed the concerns of right-wing EU voters on Islam more stridently than Macron.

There were "Islamic trends that are incompatible with our ideas of an open society", she said.

Europe ought to create institutions that "train our own imams and teachers" in the spirit of "enlightenment and tolerance," she added.

EU leaders stuck on asylum reform

Migration was overshadowed by Brexit at the EU summit, with leaders stuck on key legislation. Some warned that free movement could be at risk.

Opinion

Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Jan Zahradil, EU Commission president Spitzenkandidat for the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, responds to Emmaneul Macron's European vision ahead of the May elections.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Column

Why the EU can't do security and defence

What if the EU can't guarantee European security? In times when US physical presence does not make up for its mental absence, the question got urgent.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us