Tuesday

18th Jun 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 18 year's of archives. 30 days 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.

New 'ID' far-right EU parliament group falls short

The new far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) political group fails to muster enough support among other eurosceptics to become a heavyweight in the European Parliament. But with 73 MEPs, from nine EU states, it managed to secure the fifth spot.

News in Brief

  1. New socialist group leader to push for Timmermans
  2. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  3. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  4. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  5. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  6. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  7. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  8. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

Magazine

Explained: What is the European Parliament?

While domestic political parties often use the European Parliament as a dumping ground for unwanted politicians - and a majority of citizens don't bother to vote - the parliament, over the years, has become a dominant force in the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. EU urges Swiss to move on talks or face sanction
  2. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  3. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  4. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  5. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  6. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  7. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  8. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us