Thursday

17th Jan 2019

Political union beginning to take shape, Merkel says

  • Merkel: 'I am sure that this common sense of responsibility will remain with us far beyond the crisis' (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said a political union is beginning to take shape in the EU, but the Socialist opposition has accused her of putting the Union on an "incalculable" path after last week’s summit.

Speaking to German MPs five days (14 December) after an EU summit whose outcome has already been panned by the markets, Merkel said the crisis had seen Europeans “move closer than ever before.”

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

Referring to a sense of determination in other EU leaders to overcome the eurozone problems, the chancellor said: “I am sure that this common sense of responsibility will remain with us far beyond the crisis.”

“This means nothing else than that a real political union is beginning to take shape.”

She said this would mean that all countries will eventually have to work more closely on laws together “even if that is not yet legally required and enforced.”

This will require a “change in thinking” in national parliaments and the willingness to put themselves in the place of others. “We should learn from the best in all areas,” said the chancellor.

Her speech in the Bundestag comes as the summit agreement by EU leaders has already been criticised for causing legal confusion while not convincing markets that the eurozone crisis is on the way to being properly solved.

At the meeting, up to 26 member states agreed to make an intergovernmental treaty on centralising budgetary surveillance, with only Britain remaining outside after it failed in its bid to get special exemptions for its financial services sector.

Promising MEPs that they would have "observer status" in the negotiations, Merkel said the treaty should be ready by March and then should pass through parliamentary ratification "as fast as possible."

Drawing a line under the division with London, Merkel said that while she regretted the outcome, the UK is and will in future remain an "important partner."

However she was fiercely criticised by the Socialist opposition leader, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

'Not harmless'

Mocking the chancellor for her pursuit of EU treaty change ahead of the summit, Steinmeier, he said the intergovernmental path chosen sounded “harmless at first glance, but it is not.”

“With this (solution) we are putting Europe on a politically and legally fully incalculable path.”

He pointed out that the Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark and Finland could have problems with the agreement while noting that the European Commission will be making sure that the Lisbon Treaty, over which the commission is the guardian, will take precedence over the new pact as much as possible.

The centre-left politician also said he believed that the "alienation process" with Britain will prove unstoppable and that Germany will come to regret the situation in a "few months' time."

The opposition criticism comes amid in-fighting within Merkel's own coalition partner, the business-friendly Free Democrats, over the extent to which troubled eurozone countries should be helped.

On Wednesday, General Secretary Christian Lindner resigned as a result of the party's deep divisions on the issue.

Feature

What did the EU agree at its 'make-or-break' summit?

Amid the fog of terminology, draft and final conclusions and annexes, not to mention allegations and denials by EU polticians over the past 24 hours, EUobserver tries to make sense of what the summit actually agreed.

UK left out as 26 EU countries to draft new treaty

A group of 26 EU member states is to forge ahead with an agreement on tightening economic governance in the eurozone, following a summit in Brussels that saw the UK sidelined after it overplayed its hand. (Updated 1.30pm Friday).

Opinion

No more integration without more representation

Despite the many calls in recent months for another great leap forward in European integration, remarkably little attention is being paid to the EU’s growing democratic deficit.

German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Germany's domestic spy agency, the BfV, is to start monitoring the far-right AfD party in a move endorsed by the government, but decried as a witch-hunt by the party's leaders.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us