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Monday, February 03, 2014

Rückführung alert: CDU says repatriation of EU powers must be possible

This is interesting from today’s Handelsblatt. The paper has apparently seen the CDU’s draft manifesto ahead of the European elections. As a reminder: the CDU is Angela Merkel's party, which, along with its sister party, the CSU, won a landslide with 41.5% of the vote in the last federal election. It's what you would call the very definition of mainstream. 
The CDU manifesto calls for an “an effective regulation brake” with decisions needing to be “effective and more transparent.” Interestingly, the CDU manifesto suggests that the European Commission should be required to scrap an EU law if a majority of national parliaments says it could be handled better at the national or regional level . This seems to be very similar to the idea of a “red card”, which we long have argued for and which Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans, for example, has championed.

Perhaps even more interestingly, according to Handelsblatt, the CDU draft manifesto  also explicitly states that:
“a repatriation of competences to the national level should be possible.”
This is significant since German politicians tend to avoid using the word “repatriation” – or Rückführung – since it has strong connotations, instead preferring a range of other more guarded expressions including Dezentralisierung, Regionalisierung, Übertragung, Subsidiarität and Verhältnismäßigkeit.

Handelsblatt’s take on this is that that the :
“CDU is reacting to growing euroscepticism in the country” including to anti-euro party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).
However, the take of CDU's campaigners is (as to be expected) that the party is simply becoming more realistic - which is a neat way of putting it:
Meanwhile, the Today programme has an interview with Hans-Olaf Henkel – formerly the head of the BDI (The German equivalent of the CBI) – now with AfD.

Henkel argues that though he wants return of EU powers, he also wants Germany to stay in the EU. Today's take on this is that "British sceptics may be disappointed" if they look to Berlin, concluding that “Even the German sceptics are not very sceptical when compared to their British counterparts.” Now, this isn't necessarily right nor wrong -- but just not very insightful.
  • First, as we’ve argued before, the main clash in Germany is not between the “pro-European” and “anti-European” schism that the BBC is constantly looking for, but rather between two key pillars of post-WWII Germany: Europe and sound money.
  • Secondly, is the BBC saying that the definition of “Eurosceptic” is now wanting to leave the EU?  If so -- it will have made a lot of "Better Off Outers" very happy. However, that also means that it can no longer use the "Eurosceptic" label for a whole of host of other actors, including large chunks of the current Conservative government which, irrespective of the rights or wrongs, want to stay in a reformed EU.

This isn't becoming too complicated for black-and-white labels, is it?


Open Europe blog team said...

“a repatriation of competences to the national level should be possible.” It is possible, theoretically; that is clear from Article 48 TEU on page 42 here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:0013:0046:EN:PDF "2. The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaties. These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties. These proposals shall be submitted to the European Council by the Council and the national Parliaments shall be notified." So: "These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties." And that was emphasised in one of the (non-binding) declarations that the representatives of the EU member state governments attached to the Final Act of the Lisbon Treaty, Declaration 18, which can be read in full on Rückführung alert: CDU says repatriation of EU powers must be possible

Left by Denis Cooper at 15:36

Open Europe blog team said...

1. Of course HB is completely correct the CDU is coming under pressure. AfD is at 7% in the polls (EP), more than twice the required 3%. It simply means that people can now easily vote AfD without running the chance of ending up with nothing. The EP election (like in the UK) gives voters also a chance to give traditional politics a yellow card. And likely (like in the UK) a lot of them seem to be going to do that. Anyway it gives AfD a nice platform for further growth. It has to be said. their 2 main candidates look pretty good (for Germany) hard to see that any mediocre, and nearly all of them are, Europhile will not get his/her backside kicked in a discussion with these 2. A lot of bad PR in the making. Anyway Merkel has almost certainly given away way too much to the SPD and this is very likely a huge strategic miss. Basically she has repeated the huge mistakes Rutte made in Holland (and which have halved his party). merky has moved so much to the middle that she now has opened on

Left by Rik at 14:36

Open Europe blog team said...

In Q+A at a CIB meeting in 1994 addressed by the President of Austria following their joining the EU I said "Austria has joined the EU because its people were given a referendum. Britain remains in because we have been refused one. Would the panel give me their views on trade between Austria and Britain after we have left?" Never have I seen flabbers to gasted - mouths moved but no words emerged. Finally, after one banker replied that the we would not leave I askd for 20 seconds to respond and to my surprise was allowed them. I said "I have been described as an euroscpetic. I deny it - scepticism implies doubt or uncertainty. I have no doubts, there is only certainty." Which remains my view nearly 20 years later, only more so given that what has happened since has been even worse than even I expected. It remains unclear whether we will leave the EU by popular demand alone or whether the EU collapses before we do as a result if its anti-democratic, indeed totalarian, nature and its on

Left by IDRIS FRANCIS at 12:50

Open Europe blog team said...

I don't think anyone is of the opinion thatcamoron is a eurosceptic he is a dyed in the wool europhile and has clearly shown that.

Left by Anonymous at 12:39

Open Europe blog team said...

As fas I am concerned, being "euro-sceptic" means: (i) wanting to leave the EU; (ii) not wanting to be a eurozone member; (ii) being prepared to invoke Article 50 (the Lisbon Treatry's EU-leaving clause) at the earliest opportunity; (iv) being friendly & interested in Europe but not "of" it; (v) being strongly pro-NATO, but equally strongly opposed to EU-directed police & armed forces; & (vi) being prepared to replace one's national membership of the EU with that of the EEA/EFTA, & to adopt the 'Norway Option' in trading relations with the EU remainder. To favour anything less than this is to be europhile. As Cameron so clearly is, & so clearly not - whatever people may say - a genuine euro-sceptic.

Left by Freedom Lover at 12:16

Open Europe blog team said...

Apologies we had some technical problems with the earlier version of the blog post and lost the comments. We have now reposted them above. Many thanks Open Europe