Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

Germany plays down Ashton criticism

  • Schauble (c) in Brussels, the finance minister is Merkel's brain on the EU (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble's criticism of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is being "blown out of proportion", his spokesman has said.

"These were some comments made in the margins of an event to celebrate German Constitution Day in Karlsruhe. They definitely do not represent a co-ordinated attack [on Ashton] by the German government - they have been blown out of proportion," Schauble's spokesman, Martin Kotthaus, told EUobserver on Sunday (29 May).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The criticism was as much about [EU] Council structures as anything else," he noted, referring to problems in consensus-building among the 27 EU member countries.

Kotthaus, who until recently was the spokesman for the German mission to the EU, added: "During my time there, the German foreign ministry was very supportive of the high representative."

For their part, Ashton's staff consider German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to be one of her principal allies.

Schauble, speaking at the Karlsruhe event on 23 May as part of general musings on the state of the European Union, said the bloc's response to what he called the "Arabellion" has been inadequate.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a leading German daily, cited him as saying that the EU "did not speak with one voice" and that Ashton "does not have the power to portray Europe as an actor."

Schauble is considered in Germany to be the top thinker on EU affairs in Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party despite his domestic portfolio. In 1994, he co-wrote an influential paper with former German president Karl Lamers saying the EU should become a quasi-federal structure.

The FAZ quotes, originally published in the paper's print edition only, were highlighted in British newspapers The Times and the Daily Mail over the weekend.

The Times, which also quoted Ashton-critical remarks by German centre-right MEP Elmar Brok, said Schauble has opened "a new flank of criticism after attacks about her lack of dynamism by French diplomats." It speculated that Ashton might be forced to quit mid-mandate.

The mass-circulation Daily Mail said Ashton is "facing the axe" after "being given the warning by leading German politicians."

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Le Pen used 'fake' EU parliament jobs

A leaked EU anti-fraud office report says French far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, had her bodyguard and personal assistant paid by the EU parliament for jobs they did not do.

MEPs look for ways to defund far-right party

The Alliance for Peace and Freedom (APF) has sued the European Parliament for changing its party funding rules last year. Meanwhile, MEPs probe their duty to fund a party that brings together people with neo-Nazi and fascist past.

EU commission drops anti-corruption report

Transparency campaigners are livid after the EU commission scuppered plans to publish an EU anti-corruption report amid unfolding corruption scandals in Romania and France.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  2. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  3. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  5. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  8. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  9. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  11. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  12. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia