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April 17, 2018

CDU's executive committees reaffirms eurosceptic position

Angela Merkel is reverting to her usual mode of leading from behind - a method that has won her four elections. Meetings of the CDU's two executive bodies, a small inner group and the much larger executive committee, have both supported the critical position of the CDU/CSU Bundestag group, which is effectively to reject each aspect of Emmanuel Macron's agenda for the eurozone. The French president is expected for talks in Berlin on Thursday. The subject will be the eurozone.

As FAZ reports, the executive committee spent half of its meeting time on the eurozone. The party's new strongwoman - Annegret Kramp-Kar­ren­bau­er, said the party would agree to the plan outlined in the coalition agreement to develop the ESM into an EMF, but there would be no change whatsoever to the way decisions are taken. She said the goal of Germany's EU policies was

"always to preserve German interests."

We are never quite sure whose interests she is referring to. We would have thought that the long-term stability of the eurozone is in Germany's interest, or at least in Germany's economic interests. But there is no doubt that the political consensus in Germany is now moving in a different direction.

The same goes for the SPD. With the departure of Martin Schulz from front-line SPD politics, the last flicker of a European fire is now extinguished. Jas­per von Al­ten­bock­um notes that it was mistake to prioritise the EU in the coalition agreement, for the simple reason that the coalition cannot and will not deliver on those promises. He makes the point that nobody can really remember now why they even put the chapter on the eurozone at the front of the agreement. 

We noted a column by Mark Schieritz in Die Zeit in which he argues that, after years of supporting hyper-globalisation, the SPD is also now turning inward. The era of Gerhard Schröder and Tony Blair is truly over. Support for the eurozone and for international climate agreements are no longer an SPD priority. We agree.

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April 17, 2018

Macron in Strasburg

Emmanuel Macron is to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg today. How will he respond to the CDU's clear No to his plans for Europe? Without Germany as a committed ally, Macron will seem like a lone defender of a stronger and sovereign Europe. The Elysée palace admits that relations with Germany are at a low point, and that the two governments are not speaking the same language. They complain that Angela Merkel does her usual thing, staying in the centre without moving, and without coming forward with any new proposals, so l'Opinion. With an ally like this, who needs enemies? Sure, there are always projects still moving forward. But on the big issues Macron raised in his Sorbonne speech, he is alone. Another sign that things are not going well is that the EPP, the leading group in the European parliament and a channel for Merkel and the CDU, has scheduled a closed meeting in May with the title: Macron, friend or foe?

Beyond this large discourse, MEPs are also interested to learn how he plans to shake up the party system in the European parliament. How will his party, LREM, operate in Europe?  We already know that LREM is unlikely to join any of the existing alliances, and instead they are expected to pull out some parties from existing groups to join a larger force. But Macron won't go into details just yet, so his aides. 

After Strasburg, Macron will go to Épinal (Vosges) to start his debating series with citizens over Europe. It is no coincidence that Macron launches his so called citizen consultation in the city of Philippe Séguin, who played a leading role the No campaign against the Maastricht treaty in 1992. It is why he puts forward his idea of "a Europe that protects", thus seeking, not only to reassure the worried, but also to give meaning to his historical ambition. On Thursday Macron will be in Berlin meeting with Angela Merkel.

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