Chancellor Merkel has made another abrupt turn. The recovery plan she presented with President Macron has little in common with her previous positions. But she had no choice – Merkel had to move.
She probably would have preferred to sit this decision out as well. At several EU summits, the Chancellor has not moved an inch. She rejected EU debts as well as financial transfers to the South.
But the demands became louder and louder, the pressure grew. In the end Macron had forged an alliance of nine like-minded states demanding financial solidarity. Germany found itself in minority.
But even that would probably not have been enough – had it not been for the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court on the bond purchases by the European Central Bank. Since then, Germany has been in the dock.
Commission boss von der Leyen is threatening infringement proceedings against Germany because the judges in Karlsruhe claim to be above EU law and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. This has damaged Merkel’s standing.
Moreover, the German position in the Corona crisis has become untenable. At the beginning of the pandemic, Merkel could still argue that Germany was just as affected as all other EU countries – and fend off demands from southern Europe.
But now that the corona wave is abating, this argument no longer holds water. Germany is the biggest winner – not only in combating epidemics, but also in dealing with the economic and social consequences of the crisis.
As a winner, however, one must be more generous – especially if one wants to continue to benefit from the EU and its lucrative internal market in the future. Merkel has recognised this – and has moved just in time.
In doing so, she did not go further towards Macron and the Southern Europeans than she had to – she only cleared positions that had become untenable…
The original post (in German) is here