The opaque politics of “Merkeleyen”

Do you remember “Merkozy”? Chancellor Merkel’s alliance with France’s ex-president Sarkozy was scary to many. But the “Merkeleyen” we are now witnessing with Commission head von der Leyen are no better. Her trademark is intransparency – and the assertion of German interests.

The German Council Presidency is over, but the events of the last six months are still kicking up a lot of dust. The EU-China deal is causing trouble in the USA, the failure to provide aid for refugees is outraging Greens and human rights activists. But the EU’s vaccination strategy continues to cause the most fuss. Time and again, the unsubstantiated accusation is repeated that Paris is to blame for Brussels not ordering more vaccine from the German producer Biontech. Yet all orders were coordinated with Berlin.

The BILD newspaper, of all places, has revealed how close the agreements were. It quotes with relish from a letter by Health Minister , who – apparently under pressure from Chancellor Merkel – advocates a European procurement strategy.

According to the letter, Merkel and Commission head von der Leyen agreed that vaccine purchasing would be organised centrally in Brussels – and not decentrally in a vaccine alliance that Spahn had forged with France, Italy and Holland.

If this is true – the report has not been denied – then “Chancellor and President” (BILD) pulled the strings. And why not? Merkel held the presidency, von der Leyen swore allegiance to her, together they wanted to lead the EU out of the crisis.

But this means that the thesis of the evil French who blocked the procuration of German vaccines collapses. If there were any wrong decisions, they are to be found in “Merkeleyen” – in the all too close partnership of the two German CDU ladies.

And not only on the vaccine issue.

The last-minute deal with China can also be traced back to a “Merkeley” – the negotiations went through Brussels. Even the controversial agreements on the EU budget with the Hungarian obstructionist are a “Merkeley” – engineered by Merkel and implemented by Ms Leyen.

What these “Merkelies” have in common is that they have been treated like secrets. The deal with Orban came to light one day before the decisive EU summit, the China deal on the last day of the German presidency. And the vaccine plan even afterwards.

Let’s hope that things don’t go on like this. Because that would turn the European idea upside down. Just imagine: Merkel and von der Leyen are negotiating something – and if it goes wrong or Germany doesn’t like it, France is declared the culprit.

Unimaginable, isn’t it?

This article first appeared in our newsletter “Watchlist EUropa”. It is published every working day and is free of charge. More info and a subscription form here.

P.S. As the “Wirtschaftswoche” reports, there were various side agreements kept secret in the EU-China deal. “China wants to grant Deutsche a mobile phone licence, the first foreign group to do so,” EU circles say. “Within five years, Deutsche Telekom should even be allowed to own the infrastructure in China.” In return, Merkel wants to open up the German mobile phone market to China Mobile, they say. Well then…

Translated with (free version). The German version of this post is here