March 09, 2018
The Franco-German axis and its opponents
We already noted opposition from eight smaller countries to the eurozone reforms, soon subject to bilateral Franco-German discussion. Sebastian Dullien (@SDullien) has calculated that these eight countries constitute less than 10% of the EU's population. Jean Quatremer notes two further obstacle to the reforms. The first and most important is Angela Merkel's duplicity, by agreeing to hold a dialogue with Macron but then stabbing him in the back with the vote in the European Parliament against transnational lists. There the EPP aligned with the parties of the right. Quatremer makes the point that the eurozone reforms demanded by Macron require treaty change, which in turn requires the consent of every member state including non-eurozone countries. Intergovernmental co-operation is always possible, but prone to shifts if there is a change in government, especially in a big country. This is now happening in Italy where the Five Star Movement is likely to be less supportive of the Franco-German agenda than the previous government led by the PD. Quatremer's conclusion is that, in the long run, the EU is much more likely to degenerate into a mere free-trade area.