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March 11, 2019

Ask what Europe can do for Germany - AKK's EU manifesto

That new leaders face an inevitably-steep learning curve in EU-related matters is probably the most benign explanation for Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer's manifesto on Europe, which she published in a German newspaper of the weekend. It contained nonsense constructions like a single market for banks - seemingly oblivious to the whole history of the banking union and Germany's not-so-glorious role in those discussions. AKK had nothing new to add on the eurozone, except to reiterate the old German red lines of no centralisation and no fiscal transfers. And no Europeanisation of social systems either. 

But it is in the area of foreign and security policy where the naivety of her proposals is most painful - when she called for an EU-wide seat on the UN Security Council effectively urging France to give up its own seat. And she endorsed the construction of a joint European aircraft carrier. None of this with any indication how she wants to use this aircraft carrier, or how to fund it. Absent was any commitment towards more defence spending by Germany, or shifts in procedures and decision-making processes for how German troops are deployed - or rather not deployed.

Our conclusions is that these are just words to signal vague pro-Europeaness, with zero expenditure of political capital. We noted an angry tweet by Wolfgang Ischinger (@Ischinger), the head of the Munich Security Conference and a former German diplomat, who noted that the purpose of a joint aircraft carrier was to project military power. It requires agreement of a joint strategy and streamlined decision-making procedures. Germany was lightyears away from meeting these conditions. We also note that Angela Merkel's talk about European security and defence is equally vacuous. 

There is, of course, no question of France giving up its seat at the UN Security Council, just as there is no question of Germany giving up its seat that the G7 or at the IMF in favour of sole EU representation. AKK's manifesto is telling us not to expect any shift in German policy post-Merkel. 

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