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Monday, June 30, 2014

After the row: is Germany bringing the flowers and chocolate?

The dust from last Friday's extraordinary EU summit - the first at which an EU leader was actively outvoted over the appointment of the European Commission President - is starting to settle. As strong emotions recede, pragmatism is coming to the force both on the UK side - with David Cameron saying he is ready to put aside his differences with Juncker - and also on the continent and particularly in Germany.

Significantly, both German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) warn about the impact of a UK exit and stress the importance of the UK to the EU.

Here is Schäuble in today's FT:
“The EU without the UK is absolutely not acceptable, unimaginable. Therefore, we have to do everything, so that the interests and the positions of the UK find themselves sufficiently [represented].”
And, perhaps more surprisingly, here is Gabriel writing in today's La Repubblica:
"If we don’t manage together, over the coming years, to modernise Europe, make it less bureaucratic, respect national, regional and municipal responsibilities, then a large bourgeois majority of Britons – pushed by UKIP – will vote against Europe…The UK’s exit from the EU would signal the beginning of the end of the European project."
Interesting coming from Gabriel whose actions and rhetoric over Juncker could well have been designed to force the UK towards the exit door. Meanwhile, today's editorial in French daily Le Monde - not a natural supporter of Cameron - claims that:
“It is not an insult to [Juncker] to note that he doesn’t have the profile of a new man in Brussels…One of the priorities for Mr Juncker must be to repair the relationship with London. And to show, by innovating, that it’s no longer business as usual in Brussels.”
These comments show that - as we argued in our instant response to the Juncker appointment - it's all still to play for when it comes to EU reform.


Denis Cooper said...

"it's all still to play for when it comes to EU reform."

I suspect you'll still be saying that long after the match is over.

Denis Cooper said...

As Cameron has stated this fundamental principle which he believes is worth fighting for:

"... it is for the European Council – the elected heads of national governments – to propose the president of the European Commission, not to let the European Parliament dictate that choice to them."

I presume that he will now be pressing for an EU treaty change to reverse what happened at Maastricht with Major's blessing and deprive the EU Parliament of the power of veto, without which MEPs would certainly never have been able to "dictate" to the European Council.

Jesper said...

Poroshenko is expected to initiate reforms of the institutions and laws of Ukraine.

Juncker is expected to initiate reforms of the institutions and treaties of the EU.

Who is more likely to succeed?

Germany was roped into doing the dirty work of the EP. Both in getting the EP candidate selected and in dealing with the aftermath. Can the EP envision an EU without UK?

Anonymous said...

Germany can keep the chocolates and the flowers as this "union" is heading for divorce. We ill keep our GBP20Bn p.a.

Having seen how EU deals are made - God help us all.

One minute you agree things and the next minute all and sundry have changed their minds and not told you. This sounds like FIFA.

What a great "union" of friends! These types of friends are better kept at arm's length - and cannot be trusted to have any say over us.