Advertisement
Features

Merkel II lays out her plans

Germany’s heir apparent is at odds with Macron’s vision. Matthew Partridge reports.

938-Kamp-634
AKK: delivering a straight "nein" to Macron

2019 Getty Images

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (AKK), leader of Germany's CDU and frontrunner to become the next chancellor, has rejected some of French president Emmanuel Macron's central proposals for reforming the European Union, reports Oliver Moody in The Times.

Her intervention highlights the "growing ideological divide" between Germany and France over the EU's future. It gave a "lukewarm" reception to Macron's plans to create new EU agencies to tackle climate change, immigration and social policy, for example, and stressed that "national sovereignty must take priority over centralisation in Brussels".

Advertisement - Article continues below

AKK's response reflects the preferences of other northern and eastern European states, says Constanze Stelzenmller in the FT: she prefers free markets to Macron's dirigisme (he wants to combat aggressive Chinese and American competition with a new European state interventionism and protectionism); is wary of transferring power to the EU; and resists pitting "good" pro-Europeans against "bad" populists. And her answer to Macron's appeal to pool debt and make social-security systems and the minimum wage pan-European was a straight "nein".

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

But for all her rhetoric, AKK's approach doesn't actually differ that much from current chancellor Angela Merkel's, says Matthew Karnitschnig on Politico. If you look at the detail of her 2,000-word article, it "was perfectly Merkelian, full of vague pronouncements that raised more questions than answers". And instead of pointing out the tough choices Europe faces, she reassures German voters that "they can have their cake and eat it too".

Advertisement - Article continues below

She wants Europe to remain transatlantic and at the same time become more European-focused. She wants Europe to become stronger, but without agreeing on any of the details. She had nothing to say about the urgent need to reform the euro, nor about geopolitical challenges from the US, China and Russia. AKK has no answers beyond wanting to maintain the status quo.

The anointed successor

AKK is "offering a continuation of the cautious incrementalism that Merkel has lent to European policymaking for the past decade" and is doing so "as party leader rather than as Germany's leader", says the Financial Times. Indeed, her manifesto is a "party formulation" that "captures the moodof Christian Democrat ambivalence: committedto the EU, sceptical about further integration".

Still, she has "done Europe a service" by articulating "a legitimate, conservative vision for Europe's future". More importantly, she has offered an alternative to Macron's "more radical thinking".It is a debate that needs to continue.

A new Iron Curtain descends

Putin may dream of replicating China's "great firewall", but it's going to prove "difficult" to do this in practice, says The Economist. Russia is more integrated into the internet's global architecture; its biggest firms, such as Yandex, have servers abroad; global giants such as Google have servers in Russia. More importantly, Russians have grown used to having free access to the internet. But even if it were "technically possible", online censorship couldprove "politically explosive".

Last year's bid to block a messaging service "sparked some of the largest street protests in years".Ironically, these attempts to return to Soviet-style censorship in the online world come at a time when Russia, with its "highly developed" IT industry, is considered "one of the most advanced countries in the digital sector worldwide", says Juri Rescheto for dw.com. Russia "has one of the cheapest mobile internet infrastructure systems worldwide" and "the country's start-ups are successfully competing with the international market". Yet now the Russian internet "risks losing its most essential function: the free exchange of information".

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/519858/how-long-can-the-good-times-roll
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Visit/economy/uk-economy/brexit/600739/boris-johnsons-big-brexit-plan
Brexit

Boris Johnson’s big Brexit plan

The prime minister needs to get Brexit done, and get the economy growing – particularly for first-time Tory voters. Can he manage all that while negot…
15 Jun 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/european-stockmarkets/601489/european-assets-bounce-as-the-eurozones
European stockmarkets

European assets bounce as the eurozone's economy turns upwards

Both the euro and European stocks have rallied strongly in the last few days.
12 Jun 2020
Visit/economy/eu-economy/601448/margrethe-vestager-a-symbol-of-all-thats-wrong-with-the-eu
EU Economy

Margrethe Vestager: a symbol of all that’s wrong with the EU

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, wields enormous power over industry, and abuses it, says Matthew Lynn.
7 Jun 2020

Most Popular

Visit/investments/property/601606/house-prices-crash-uk-property-prices-falling-where-next
Property

House price crash: UK property prices are falling – so where next?

With UK property prices falling for the first time in eight years, are we about to see a house price crash? John Stepek looks at what’s behind the sli…
2 Jul 2020
Visit/economy/inflation/601584/the-end-of-the-bond-bull-market-and-the-return-of-inflation
Inflation

The end of the bond bull market and the return of inflation

Central bank stimulus, surging post-lockdown demand and the end of the 40-year bond bull market. It all points to inflation, says John Stepek. Here’s …
30 Jun 2020
Visit/investments/stockmarkets/601611/nasdaq-all-time-high-markets-and-the-real-economy
Stockmarkets

How can markets hit new record highs when the economy is in such a mess?

Despite the world being in the midst of a global pandemic, America's Nasdaq stock index just hit an all-time high. And it's not the only index on a bu…
3 Jul 2020