We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

November 09, 2018

What to make of Merz’ pro-Europeanism

Reuters picked up on a comment by Friedrich Merz, who said that Germany was benefitting from the monetary union through real exchange rate depreciation. Speaking at a Chatham House conference in Berlin, he said:

“We have to do more than we are actually doing because if Europe fails - and this is a clear option, no one can deny it, Europe is really at the threshold at the moment - if Europe fails, the Germans will be those who suffer most from that."

It is extremely rare to hear a German politician talk in those terms. Martin Schulz tried a similar approach from the left, but the SPD never showed much genuine interest. And we all know how the Schulz story ended. 

The big question for the CDU is whether it will allow Merz to shape an agenda that is distinctly out of line with the party’s mainstream. We think it is quite misleading to characterise the debate in the CDU on the classic left-right spectrum. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer is socially more liberal than Merz but, like most German politicians, disinterested in European affairs. Like Merkel and unlike Merz, she is unlikely to invest political capital into further European integration.

What we do not yet know from Merz are the details. We know that he supports the idea of a eurozone unemployment reinsurance system. On this point, it is worth reading Isabel Schnabel’s minority opinion in the annual report by the German council of economic experts, in which she gives a rigorous economic defence of such a system. The German debate on this issue is not as black and white as it seems from the outside. The CDU has rejected the whole idea, while the SPD supports a rather limited version.

But, more importantly, will Merz back a European safe asset? We doubt that very much. In Germany this has been a taboo subject - one that even Emmanuel Macron did not dare propose. We presume that Merz would push for a limited number of reforms with high visibility and a good chance of securing majorities - such as a small fiscal capacity with a European finance minister and an unemployment insurance system, and perhaps also the European deposit insurance scheme. 

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • September 17, 2018
  • About the new partnership between Russia and China
  • EU ponders Irish backstop protocol to help May
  • February 07, 2018
  • A short note on bitcoin
  • July 04, 2017
  • On the CDU’s programme
  • Macron defines his presidential style
  • Why do we criticise modern macro?
  • November 28, 2016
  • And now what Monsieur Fillion?
  • The inescapable logic of an interim agreement
  • On Germany's foreign policy post-Trump
  • How to lose against the populists
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 01, 2019
  • Meaningful IV
  • Caputová elected: a turning point for central Europe?
  • October 02, 2018
  • Whatever it takes - diesel version
  • Is Macron's European discourse too simplistic?
  • April 06, 2018
  • Schleswig Holstein collapses Spain's strategy against Catalan separatism
  • On the implausibility of conspiracy theories in the Skripal case
  • October 09, 2017
  • UK is starting to prepare for a no-deal Brexit
  • Why Germany will resist meaningful eurozone reform
  • April 12, 2017
  • Macro in a state of denial
  • Where Schulz is vulnerable
  • Schäuble’s three party tricks
  • October 17, 2016
  • Ceta is dead for now
  • L’après-Hollande, c'est Hollande
  • SPD against Russia sanctions
  • Nissan to join customs union and other fanciful tales
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 10, 2019
  • How to create Brexit facts
  • The new Alde is already in trouble
  • January 31, 2019
  • EU will play hardball until February 14, and stick to backstop beyond
  • French left and right moves ahead of EP elections
  • Tighten the belts as the economy prepares for landing
  • September 25, 2018
  • Be careful what you wish for - second referendum edition
  • May 21, 2018
  • Another snap election in the UK? Tories are preparing
  • Merkel and Putin - the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
  • January 15, 2018
  • Is the section on Europe for real?
  • Can Drahos upset Zeman?
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 23, 2016
  • Sarkozy launches candidacy in a book
  • Rajoy plans to try again in October
  • Turkey recalls ambassador from Austria
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 31, 2019
  • Salvini’s frightening strength
  • The significance of Corbyn’s latest flipflop on the referendum
  • May 13, 2019
  • Brexit Party has already changed UK politics
  • Orbán visits Trump, after a very long wait
  • Le Pen's appeal to the PiS likely to fall on deaf ears
  • April 24, 2019
  • May's final and biggest gamble
  • Will the EP be Brexit's great parliamentary beneficiary?
  • Can Loiseau fight the far right given her past?
  • April 03, 2019
  • Game on
  • Can someone please take the table off-the-table!
  • March 18, 2019
  • May's deal still on the table. Don't rule it out.
  • EPP decision on Fidesz still open
  • On the defeat of liberalism
  • March 04, 2019
  • Macron's two-month sprint
  • May's numbers are not there yet
  • Greening QE
  • On the "hope" of a rate raise
  • February 18, 2019
  • How the splits on the left and the right will affect Brexit
  • February 05, 2019
  • Pressure on Varadkar rises - the EP turns up the heat
  • When grounds shift - literally
  • January 25, 2019
  • Is this the beginning of the end of the gilets jaunes?
  • Kurz speculates about longer Brexit delay
  • January 14, 2019
  • Our Brexit predictions
  • 1789 - Macron's version
  • Tsipras calls confidence vote after Kammenos pulls out
  • January 04, 2019
  • Will the AfD become the Dexit party?
  • Romania's corruption problem in the spotlight of its EU presidency
  • December 18, 2018
  • The secret plots behind the no-confidence motions
  • December 10, 2018
  • ECJ says UK free to revoke Article 50, even inside extension period
  • A turning point in Macron's presidency
  • China has added Portugal to the list of its key EU partners
  • Belgium's coalition implodes over Marrakesh pact
  • December 03, 2018
  • French protests coming to a head this week
  • The Galileo fiasco, an ill omen for the future UK-EU relationship
  • November 26, 2018
  • Two German plus two Dutch makes four spitzenkandidaten
  • Yellow vest protests - radicalisation and new political alliances
  • November 19, 2018
  • May’s pushback is kicking in
  • November 15, 2018
  • Ratification is more probable than it appears
  • Romania's problematic presidency
  • November 13, 2018
  • Peak Salvini?
  • Protest uberisation
  • November 12, 2018
  • Does Macron really believe in his own 2019 battle plan?
  • A throwaway commentary about a throwaway comment