The real State of the Union

It was his last big speech before the European elections: President spoke on the “state of the Union”. However, he did not dare to take an honest stock of the situation. Yet the true state of the Union is anything but pleasing.

Let us start with the positive: Four years after Juncker took office, the acute phase of the euro crisis is over, even if the mountains of debt continue to grow and no problem has really been solved.

No country and hardly any politician is calling for withdrawal from the euro or the EU. Even M. Le Pen and M. Salvini shy away from it – because the citizens are attached to the community and its money.

Citizens are also attached to the freedom of movement. But the Schengen system, which Juncker wants to defend, is becoming increasingly fragile. The EU has long since ceased to be borderless, and after the Brexit Treaty new barriers are threatening.

Juncker, who wants to push ahead with the sealing off of borders with many new, partly armed border officials, is also contributing to this. Nobody currently believes that the controls in Germany will fall again in return.

For the situation is such that nothing can go against Germany, nor can it without “Schland”. Juncker, selected by Chancellor Merkel, has pushed the “German Europe” to the top, as “Libération” notes.

There would be little objection to this if Merkel-Germany were finally to push the EU forward again. But the opposite is the case. Merkel has called off the “fresh start (Aufbruch) for Europe” and postponed euro reforms.

The resistance against US President Trump, which the Chancellor repeatedly announces, has also fallen through. So that German cars can continue to be exported, we now have to import more US soybeans!

The biggest problem, however, is that the EU is also disintegrating internally. North against south with the euro, east against west with the refugees,the  establishment against the “populists” – and everyone against everyone when it comes to money.

A common vision of the future is missing, as is a unifying bond. The reason is that the “power in the middle” (H. Münkler on  Germany), which is supposed to hold the shop together, is itself in crisis, and Merkel is weaker then ever.

Juncker therefore goes into an election year with empty hands. The front runner for the election is a German candidate by Merkel’s grace. The speech on the “state of the Union” has, by the way, also been coordinated with Merkel …

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