Daily Management Review

Will Merkel accept Macron's plans for Europe?


French President Macron presented ambitious plans for reforming the EU, but German Chancellor Merkel lingers with support. She feels strong resistance in her country.

"It is important to conduct a critical debate about what Europe means!", Emmanuel Macron said in his speech to the European Parliament on April 17 in Strasbourg.

This week he intends to go to Berlin to discuss his ideas with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Meanwhile, Berlin is raging with debates, including in the German government. 

It has not always been like this. Shortly after the election of the new young president in France, the German authorities euphorically welcomed pro-European reform plans of Macron. What has happened since then? The answer is simple. There were elections to the Bundestag, as a result of which the right-populist "Alternative for Germany" (AdG), created once as a party of opponents of the euro, entered in the country’s parliament. The elections were followed by the longest negotiations in the history of Germany. The talks were held at the very time that Macron actually hoped to spend on coordinating his reform plans with Merkel. 

However, not only external circumstances are holding Merkel back from the active support of his French counterpart. Macron's ideas concern both the monetary union’s reform - with its own budget and the position of the Minister of Finance - and creation of the European Monetary Fund and its own system of guarantees for bank deposits.

Macron's ideas confuse even ardent Europeans

Even such open supporters of a single Europe, like Merkel, speaks extremely cautiously when discussing Macron's ambitious ideas for the future of Europe. Other politicians from her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as the partner Christian-Social Union (CSU) are more specific: the proposals of the French leader in the field of financial policy evoke their rejection.

"First of all, it should be checked whether President Macron's proposals are in accordance with the interests of Germany," said Joachim Pfeiffer, a the Christian Democratic Union’s representative in Bundestag, to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. In his opinion, the current European Stabilization Fund (ESM) does not need to be transformed into the European Monetary Fund.

Coalition Treaty, "A New Rise for Europe"?

However, Macron also has supporters in Merkel’s party. "The coalition agreement is the first answer to Macron’s ideas," said Norbert Röttgen of the CDU in an interview with DW. The MPs are responsible to their constituents, he said, commenting on the demands that the Bundestag take decisions on reformist proposals: "We are deeply convinced that there is no conflict between interests of our citizens and new vision of Europe."

The CDU/CSU will not limit Merkel in negotiations with Macron, Röttgen said, referring to a meeting of parliamentarians from a conservative bloc dedicated solely to reforms in the EU. It's just an intra-factional "information debate," said Michael Grosse-Brömer, executive secretary of the CDU/CSU faction in the Bundestag. "There are no solutions with which we limit her," he added. 

However, it seems that the confidence of the CDU/CSU bloc in the head of the Cabinet has its limits. So, the MPs are striving to transfer the right to make decision on the financial policy of Europe to the Bundestag.

The negative mood among the conservatives is displeasing for their partners in the government coalition in Germany, the Social Democrats. The head of the SPD faction Andrea Nahles recalls that the coalition agreement was entitled "A New Rise for Europe". "We live at a time when we are increasingly in need of Europe," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. He refused to answer the question whether the SPD also refuses to support Macron's proposals.

source: dw.de