31st Oct 2020

Schroder warns against too much EU interference

Outgoing German chancellor Gerhard Schroder has taken a parting shot at the EU warning that it should not interfere too much in member states' business.

Writing in the weekly newspaper, Die Zeit, the chancellor said that citizens were annoyed that the EU was not effective where they wanted it to be, such as in foreign policy, and overbearing in some areas where it was not wanted.

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Mr Schroder accused the European Commission and the bloc’s highest court of contributing to the "creeping impression" that they are "using common market principles to justify European regulations for which there is no need".

"Nothing infuriates citizens more than the suspicion of a creeping loss of sovereignty," he wrote.

He also warned that the over extension of EU powers put the member states' "intact statehood" into question.

His words come just days before he will attend an informal meeting of EU leaders to discuss the economic and social woes facing the bloc - it is set to be his last appearance on the European stage.

Making a reference to this discussion, Mr Schroder said the bloc is facing a fundamental conflict. It concerns whether liberalisation is the ultimate goal of the EU or whether its policy should have "social responsibility".

Mr Schroder's two-term time as chancellor has been characterised by some public spats with the commission - particularly during his first tenure when Brussels and Berlin came to blows over the commission's attempts to scrap the so-called "Volkswagen Law", which protects the company from hostile takeover bids.

The two sides also clashed strongly over the stability pact - the rules underpinning the euro - which Germany was not able to adhere to.

Mr Schroder's term was also notable for the fact that he made it clear that Germany would no longer be the unquestioning paymaster for all things EU.

Before that Germany could be counted for cheque book diplomacy - dipping into its own coffers to pay for compromises that had taken taken EU leaders days of bitter discussions to reach.

The out-going chancellor is to be replaced by Angela Merkel, the leader of the Christian Democrats.

She has already shown some impatience with Mr Schroder's sounding off in the twilight days of his chancellorship, reportedly asking him to consult her before making any new foreign policy statements.

Ms Merkel's demand came after Mr Schroder told Turkey that the idea of a privileged partnership with the EU - an idea long championed by Mrs Merkel as an alternative to full membership - was no longer on the table.

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