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Friday, February 28, 2014

Merkel sagt 'Jein': German reactions to Merkel's speech

Merkel's big speech yesterday was being trailed in the UK media almost a week in advance while the German media only began to cover it the day before. Its fair to say it didn't completely dominate the news in Germany yesterday - not with the conclusion of the trial of former German President Christian Wulff - but it nonetheless attracted a lot of coverage, comment and analysis. Here is our round-up of key German responses:

In terms of the speech itself, German media and commentators broadly picked out Merkel's call for the UK to stay in and help shape the EU, although N-TV went with “Merkel leaves Cameron hanging”. Today's headlines and comment pieces make for interesting reading; FAZ headlined their write-up with ‘Chancellor Jein' - Jein, for those who haven't worked it out already is a combination of Ja & Nein. Süddeutsche Zeitung goes with “Merkel’s lecture in Europe realism” adding that “she didn't close doors but remained vague”. Die Welt says “Merkel meets the Queen and resists Cameron”.

In terms of the comment pieces, Handelsblatt's EU correspondent Ruth Berschens argues that:
“The UK and Germany share a staggering amount of common ground... the list of common interest has now even been extended by a very important point: both Germany and the UK want to readjust the institutional structure of the EU... [However] even if the Chancellor wanted to she could not give Cameron a special status [for the UK in the EU]... Merkel has offered a limited EU treaty change for the Eurozone and that the EU Commission will voluntarily commit to stay out of specific policy areas. Now the ball is in the British court.”
Die Welt columnist Alan Posener writes in the Guardian that:
“Cameron will get his treaty changes sooner or later. In return, he should learn to walk the European walk and talk the talk – as Merkel does, while pushing a German agenda.” 
In a separate comment piece in Die Welt, Posener argues that a more integrated eurozone but with the possibility of other powers flowing back to member states would
“not create a Europe of ‘two-speeds’, but a freer Europe of differences and choices. Those who want more integration should be able to go down that path; those who prefer a looser European ‘dress’ should not have to leave the EU for that”.        
Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Foreign Affairs editor Stefan Kornelius points out that:
“Those, like the British Premier David Cameron, who hope for a herculean reform effort of the EU, including comprehensive treaty change, do not understand the EU. Europe moves cautiously, step by step, fittingly like the German Chancellor, with or without crutches.” 
He adds that Merkel’s speech understandably left a lot of questions unanswered such as
“What are the concrete plans for the strengthening of the economic and monetary union? Should governments agree on a common economic policy or does this competence go to the [European] Commission? Above all in terms of the Commission: which of Cameron’s complaints about Brussels are justified? Where do competences have to be checked and be trimmed back?”
In conclusion the broad response of the German media is much as we argued yesterday - Merkel did not give much away but left the door open to reform.


Jesper said...

Cameron want to be seen as a leader, Merkel might not want to steal his thunder by coming with proposals that Cameron keep hinting that he eventually might possibly make sometime in an unspecified future.

It seems like time is about to run out, both domestically and internationally for Camerons claim of leadership.

Domestically it is time to set the date for the referendum.

Internationally it is time to table a proposal for treaty-change.

Strengthening the role of national parliaments should be easy to accomplish, which national leader would vote for less power for him/her-self?

Talk is cheap, table some proposals.

Average Englishman said...

Today jein, tomorrow jein, many days and years after tomorrow jein, which effectively means nein, nein a thousand times nein to anyone who wants the UK to once more have a proper democratic government.

I do not believe that a majority of the British people will be prepared to wait for the EU juggernaut to take years to make its mind up to say no to UK independnce, whilst grinding slowly onwards in the meantime to ever greater integration.

No thanks. Action now is required and if the main political parties in the UK have to lose influence to newcomer UKIP before they work this out (before Cameron is dumped and Milliband has a sudden change of heart) then so be it. I do not even mention Clegg because the die has been cast for him already.

Ray said...

Merkel is walking a precarious line herself, she cannot afford to reveal the truth that the UK cannot be allowed to leave the EU because if it does it means the whole cost of the EU then falls to Germany, but she must be aware of the feeling in the UK and has to temper her remarks to give Cameron a chance to fool us without actually lying herself, something I think she has more problems with than any of our politicians.

johnlandseer said...

I will say it again - it's the euro stupid.

The euro or survival of the euro will dominate everything in the EU for the next 10 years.

Once nation states come to realise what true economic and monetary union means - loss of tax, spend powers - ie even greater loss of sovereignty, then the trouble will start.

Combine, in parallel, the troubles in Italy and Greece....what a recipe for er...disaster.

Game over.

Anonymous said...

For the UK the cost and the benefits of EU membership do not add up.

This is highlighted even more when you factor in the loss of sovereignty and the loss of speed and flexibility in making the right decisions for us.

Add in the annual cost of membership c.GBP20Bn (funded out of debt issuance) and the whole thing just looks like idiocy. Why would the UK want to give away its own wealth and lose competitiveness in the bargain?!

We do not need to ask Germany or anyone else for permission to do what we want. We need to do the right thing for the UK and especially our CHILDREN.

Free trade = YES
Sovereignty = No.


Denis Cooper said...

Jesper said ...

"Strengthening the role of national parliaments should be easy to accomplish, which national leader would vote for less power for him/her-self?"

I'll make two points here.

Firstly, looking for something else I came across this letter from a member of the European Movement published in the Nottingham Evening Post on May 10th 2008:

"Mr Robinson is concerned that legislation passed by our elected UK Parliament using a Statutory Instrument is unacceptable, even though it is a common practice as Parliament would have already voted that right to the relevant minister. However his concerns are now over. Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, once ratified, all future EU Commission proposals can be debated, amended and rejected by National Parliaments.

ERIC GOODYER East Midlands European Movement Hathern Leics"

Now I guess that most casual readers would have unthinkingly absorbed the intended impression that "all future EU Commission proposals can be debated, amended and rejected by National Parliaments" meant that each of those parliaments would have the power to do that on its own, that each would have its own power of national veto, when in fact it was "National Parliaments", plural, because it would need a sufficient number of them to act together, in what is just another form of transnational majority voting.

And it was not merely misleading but quite simply untrue that their collective power would extend to being able to amend or reject any EU Commission proposal; the most that could happen would be for the Commission to be fored to think again and then give reasons why it was going ahead with the proposal anyway, as happened recently:


"National parliaments opposed to creating an EU-wide prosecutor want the European Commission to rework its flagship proposal, but EU officials say it is likely to go ahead.

Chambers in 11 national parliaments got enough votes to trigger a so-called “yellow card” procedure when they filed their complaints to Brussels earlier this week."

"An EU official told this website that: "Formally, the number of votes was reached to trigger the yellow card procedure."

But they added: "It is the commission that decides if there has been a yellow card or not and what would be the consequences.""

Now the great eurosceptic Hague is following in the deceitful footsteps of the eurofanatic European Movement with his suggestion that should also be the possibility of a "red card", but once again not at the disposal of any single national parliament but only that of a sufficiently large group of parliaments.

Secondly, that when we had the referendum in 1975 the official government pamphlet:


asked the question "Will Parliament lose its power?" and actually said inter alia:

"Remember: All the other countries in the Market today enjoy, like us, democratically elected Governments answerable to their own Parliaments and their own voters. They do not want to weaken their Parliaments any more than we would.""

but in fact that is exactly what has happened; and it clearly stated:

“The Minister representing Britain can veto any proposal for a new law or a new tax if he considers it to be against British interests.”

and there has never been any subsequent referendum asking us whether we agreed to give up national vetoes and move to transnational majority voting.

christhai said...

Cameron knows that Merkel's U-boat "the Lady Dog" has torpedoed his "MV The Big Lie" and sent it to the bottom.

Merkel knows that the only way - THE ONLY WAY for Any Member of the EU to "re-negotiate membership terms" is to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU won't allow any of the 3 EU Controlled Parties in the UK to do this.

Nor will they permit a Referendum on the EU.

Accordingly Cameron won't invoke Article 50.

If Holland will invoke Article 50 and lay down the Law in what it expects from Brussels/Berlin - then all bets are off.

The Dutch feel, with just cause, pushed around by not only the EU but the Germans too.
With the anti-EU parties increasing their share of the vote in Holland, France, Italy, Austria and Finland the years ahead may show that the EU can be destroyed from within.

The EU's part in destabilising the Ukraine is now too widely known to be ignored.

The enormous part of that disgusting episode belongs fairly and squarely to Berlin.

Jesper said...

It seems that I'm not the only one who thinks it is time for Cameron to table some proposals:

"EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström signalled that any future British prime minister would have a case for changing the 28-member bloc's treaties if he or she clearly stated what the desired changes are and had enough allies on board."