23rd Mar 2018

Merkel under fire for siding with Cameron on EU budget

The German opposition has accused Angela Merkel of betraying Europe by siding with British leader David Cameron in negotiations on the EU budget, the first ever to be smaller budget than its predecessors.

"This budget is too small to achieve Europe's goals," Social-Democratic leader Peer Steinbrueck said Thursday (21 February) during a debate in the Bundestag.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Cameron and Merkel make for a 'strange alliance', say German opposition politicians (Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Kugler)

Steinbrueck, who will challenge Merkel for the chancellery in general elections on 22 September, accused her of being a "last-minute chancellor", whose decision-delaying tactic is costing both the German taxpayer and other EU countries more than it should.

He said the €960bn deal on the EU's 2014-2020 budget was the result of a "strange alliance between Merkel and Cameron who wants to leave the EU."

"We need partners who see their future in Europe and do not rely on those who want to leave," Steinbrueck said, in reference to Cameron's announcement he wants to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership and hold a referendum on the results in 2017.

For her part, Merkel and her allies defended the decision not to isolate Britain - whose uncompromising stance on budget cuts helped derail a first attempt for a deal back in November.

"Very few thought this deal was possible because the positions were very far away from each other. In November we didn't go for a deal without Britain and now we achieved one for all 27 members because Herman Van Rompuy led the negotiations in a very smart way and because leaders showed willingness to compromise," Merkel said.

In her view, Germany "achieved all its goals": capping the EU budget at one percent of EU's gross national income or €960bn, "a reasonable ceiling."

Merkel defended the fact that this would be the first ever austerity budget for the EU, saying it is more acceptable in the current economic climate.

"Nobody would understand when all need to tighten the belt in Europe, but not Europe itself," Merkel said.

The German chancellor urged the European Parliament to approve the deal and pointed to two concessions she made in order to meet their demands for more money.

Firstly, Germany reluctantly agreed to more "flexibility" on unspent money, which normally flows back to member states each year.

Secondly, there would be a revision clause after the EU elections next year, with the possibility to "adapt the budgetary framework, because seven years is a long time."

"Without agreement with the European Parliament, there would be no budget at all. So let's look at common things, not at what divides us," Merkel said.

Juergen Trittin, the Green leader tipped as finance minister in a coalition with the Social Democrats if they win the elections in September, pointed to Merkel's hypocrisy in demanding budget cuts and austerity measures when her government did the exact opposite when faced with the fallout of the financial crisis in 2008.

"Why do you force on Europe something you don't practice at home? In 2008, Germany made massive investments against the crisis and its debt went up from 63 to 85 percent of GDP. Don't pretend it wasn't you doing it," Trittin said.

He also said it was "irresponsible" to cut EU subsidies for solar and wind energy while keeping up payments to big agribusinesses that have lobbied the German government intensively.

"You were as cowardly as Cameron, who gives in to his own eurosceptic party and an irresponsible opposition. Instead of fighting for Europe, you gave in," he told Merkel.

Michael Roth, a Social Democrat, summed up the opposition's charges: "Cameron still enjoys his rebate, Merkel defends the agribusiness lobby, while countries are in crisis, with 5.7 million youngsters out of a job. Shame on you for this result."

MEPs attack 'carpet seller' budget deal

The EU parliament's biggest faction, the centre-right EPP, has denounced the proposed €960 billion EU budget in a clear sign MEPs may reject the deal struck by leaders.


Secret EU budget vote is unacceptable

A secret ballot on the EU budget would be unacceptable - if you are elected by the people to a political assembly, then the people must be able to hold you accountable, write Swedish MPs Karl Sigfrid and Andreas Norlen.


Selmayr case symptomatic, says EU novel author

The controversy over the new EU Commission top civil servant is revealing of what is wrong with EU institutions and how they are blocked by national governments, says award-winning Austrian novelist Robert Menasse.


The populists may have won, but Italy won't leave the euro

The situation as Rome tries to form a government is turbulent and unpredictable. However, the most extreme eurosceptic policies floated during the election campaign are unlikely to happen - not least due to the precarious state of the Italian banks.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  2. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  3. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  4. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  5. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says
  6. European Central Bank gets Spanish vice-chair
  7. Catalonia fails to elect president - again
  8. Slovakia gets new government after journalist assassination

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica
  2. Russian diplomats risk EU expulsions over UK attack
  3. Three presidents should attend Bosnia memorial
  4. Trump keeps EU leaders waiting on tariffs
  5. EU summit takes hard look at Russia
  6. Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing
  7. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  8. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections