The von der Leyen Commission was supposed to bring a “fresh start for Europe”, perhaps even a “renaissance”. Instead, a “new phase of Eurosclerosis” is threatening – and Germany is to blame.
This thesis was put forward by French EU correspondent J. Quatremer during a discussion at the Heine Institute in Paris. German egoism, which had once again become apparent at the failed budget summit, would lead the EU into a crisis.
Even the new German head of the Commission von der Leyen will not change anything, said Quatremer: “She can’t do anything” – because without fresh money and the green light from Chancellor Merkel her hands are tied.
This is basically correct. But at least von der Leyen is running on a “French ticket”, and she is supported by President Macron until further notice. Macron has put “his” topics on the agenda in Brussels.
And Merkel is not eternal. On the contrary – with the serious crisis in the CDU and the now planned change of leadership in April, the end of the Merkel era is already looming. It is important to think EUropa without Merkel.
But neither the media nor most EU politicians are prepared to do so. Macron, too, is still clinging to the chancellor. At the EU budget summit in Brussels he even helped her to satisfy the “miserly four”.
But if Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and his German supporters prevail and limit the EU budget to 1.0 percent of economic output, von der Leyen will not be able to implement her projects.
Then there is indeed a threat of “Eurosclerosis” – due to lack of money. A domestic power struggle in Germany until the 2021 federal elections (and the subsequent elections in France) could also paralyse the EU.
Instead of waiting for Merkel and Macron, one should think beyond the German-French “couple” and put Europe on a new footing, recommended the political scientist and book author U. Guérot, who led the debate in Paris.
But Germany could also prove to be an obstacle in this respect. For the largest EU country is more dependent on the internal market and the euro than any other. Even after Merkel, Berlin will defend “German Europe” with teeth and claws.
The struggle between German vested interests and French reformers will continue, I believe. Von der Leyen is in danger of being crushed between the fronts, she has already almost lost the budget dispute.
You could call it “Eurosclerosis” – just like in the 70s. But perhaps it is also the beginning of the end of the EU as we know it. After the Brexit, Germany and France could go from being friends to rivals…
Copyright “Lost in EUrope”. The original post (in German) is here