Saturday

29th Apr 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."

Eurozone bank needs more scrutiny, says NGO

Transparency International says eurozone's central bank is not subject to "appropriate democratic scrutiny" and should have no say on EU bailout projects.

Analysis

From Bratislava to Rome: Little more than a show of unity

The so-called Bratislava process of reflection for the EU came to an end on Saturday, but there were few tangible results that citizens could take away from the soul-searching. Despite that, unity among the EU-27 has been maintained.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party