December 08, 2017
In his speech at the SPD party conference, Martin Schulz caused quite a stir - mostly outside Germany - with a proposal to establish a United States of Europe, by treaty, by 2025. He is proposing a constitutional convention to lay the ground for a new treaty to be ratified by all member states. And then this:
"Any state that won’t ratify this treaty will automatically leave the EU."
We, too, believe that without treaty change no meaningful reform of the EU is possible. A good example were the laughable eurozone reforms proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday. The trouble with Schulz' sudden foray into federalism is that he completely failed to campaign on this issue. For two elections in a row, the SPD passed the opportunity to distinguish itself from Angela Merkel on Europe. The SPD used to support eurobonds, but as public opinion shifted in Germany this was no longer considered a subject of polite conversation among SPD leaders. Therefore we are wondering what to make of this Schulz's proposal.
We know that he actually believes in this. But we are not sure that he has the SPD behind him on it. And we are clearly not sure that he has the CDU on board. Merkel may even agree to this in the full knowledge that there will always be somebody else to reject it. And no, you cannot kick a member state out of the EU if that member state fails to ratify a constitutional treaty.
The response in Germany was muted. The otherwise robustly anti-European commentators in FAZ were mostly worried about how much this would cost. More hostile responses came from otherwise pro-European commentators outside Germany. We thought it is worth to present a small collection, to get a sense of the outrage Schulz has caused.
From Zaki Laidi (@ZakiLaidi):
"This proposal is the best way to kill Europe! Europe needs concrete projects not a constitution.Absurd"
From Alexander Lanoszka (@ALanoszka):
"Translation: I want a new pan-European state where Germany is the most powerful member; where countries that decide even democratically that they won't take part will be kicked out automatically; and this pan-European state will not be a threat."
And from Michiel van Hulten (@mvanhulten):
"The difference between Macron and Schulz is that the former formulates a positive, inclusive version of a reformed Europe. With Schulz, it's divide and rule. Or rather: rule and divide."